All is not well between the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and the players who play for them. The board has expressed its disappointment after the players' body, West Indies Players Association (WIPA), asked the players not to sign the letters of invitation that had been issued to them by the board for the tour of Australia in January 2005. Twenty-five players had been picked for the training camp.
Dinanath Ramnarine, WIPA's president and chief executive officer, said in a news release yesterday: "These invitations were issued directly to the players by the WICB, notwithstanding the fact that WIPA is the recognised body for establishing the terms and conditions of engagement of West Indies players."
Ramnarine was angry because the invitations to the players were made public without being vetted by the WIPA. "All of this constitutes an attempt to put pressure on individual players to agree to sign on the dotted line, failing which they would not be considered for West Indies selection," he said. "It is to be noted that some of the conditions stipulated by the WICB have nothing to do with cricket, but represent an attempt to exploit the players for commercial purposes."
Ramnarine concluded: "Having carefully considered the issues, WIPA has advised its members not to sign the letter of invitation and calls on the board to return to the bargaining table in order that the parties can achieve a mutually satisfactory resolution of the issues involved."
The board, meanwhile, have issued a press release expressing their disappointment at the developments. "The West Indies Cricket Board is disappointed at the reported instruction issued to its members by the West Indies Players Association not to sign letters of invitation," it said. The release also stated some of the terms and conditions in the invitation letter.
All the conditions that were included were reasonable ones, such as the player having made himself available for selection to his national side and the player being fit. But that mere fact that they did not state all the terms and conditions indicates that they are not being totally transparent. In case the WIPA is right, and the players' commercial rights are being imperilled, it will have echoes of the controversy between the Indian board and its players two years ago, when the board allowed the ICC to put restrictions on the players' commercial rights during the ICC World Cup.