Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
The growing impasse between West Indies players and the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) has intensified with both sides exchanging bitter emails in the past week. After Wavell Hinds, who has been the direct target of the players' ire, vehemently refused to step down from his dual positions as WIPA president and chief executive, the players fired fresh salvos against him via a two-part letter highlighting the discrepancies in his response.
The biggest bone of contention between the warring factions is related to the issue of sponsorship payment that Hinds claimed all the West Indies players had agreed to forego towards enhancing the pay structure of 90 regional first-class cricketers during the WIPA annual general meeting on February 1 in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad.
Hinds was responding to a letter signed by West Indies ODI captain Dwayne Bravo on behalf of the players, who alleged that Hinds had "hoodwinked" them by signing a new memorandum of understanding (MoU) which amounted to taking a massive pay cut.
The proposal to forego the sponsorship fee was presented by WIPA director Michael Hall, who asked of the "players on the West Indies team to be an agent of change and give up his daily sponsorship money to help professionalize first class cricket," according to the minutes of the AGM as seen by ESPNcricinfo.
In his letter, dated October 8, Hinds started with a bold stroke: "I am compelled to first refute in the strongest possible manner all of your previous assertions claiming ignorance on the part of the "senior players" regarding the proposal to discontinue the payment of $35,000 per day of cricket for the benefit of members of the senior West Indies team, and the reallocation of these monies to help to fund retainer contracts for an additional ninety (90) members of WIPA."
Hinds said Bravo, along with senior West Indies players Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan having "participated in a lively and lengthy discussion" on the issue had expressed "100% support for the initiative" and authorised the WIPA executive to go forward with the "resolution". That move, Hinds said, "was passed by majority vote of the members present on the floor. The minutes also reflect the only qualification to your support, which was to ask that the current WIPA executive make every effort to ensure that the shortfall in revenue accruing from the reallocation, be made up in other areas of player remuneration."
But Bravo expressed complete surprise that such a resolution was indeed passed, which he noted in the first part of his response, sent on October 10 to Hinds. "There is no mention whatsoever of such a vote taking place and that is in keeping with what persons attending that meeting have said," Bravo said, referring to the minutes of the meeting as well as having consulted his fellow players present at the AGM.
Bravo brought to Hinds' attention the segment in the minutes of the AGM where he had clearly said that, "he support[ed] 100% the proposal but certain conditions must be discussed, one of them being no pay drop for the senior team and the other salary be raised to compensate the loss of sponsorship fee."
Bravo also pointed out that both Hall and Hinds had said before any final decision was taken that the WIPA would consult WICB to make sure that "to balance of the loss of sponsorship fee, a compromise MUST be reached to EVEN out the difference." Hinds and Hall, Bravo said, had made it clear that senior players like himself, Chris Gayle, Darren Sammy and Chanderpaul would be kept abreast of the updates. Instead, Bravo claimed the players were always in the dark over the MoU, which they are yet to see.
"As is evident from the minutes of the AGM, Mr. Hinds and Mr. Hall promised to provide more information, meet with senior West Indian players, make up the shortfall if the sponsorship were taken away, even out the difference and certain conditions must be discussed one of them being no pay drop and more importantly discuss with the players before any final decision is made," Bravo wrote.
In the second part of his response, sent on October 12, Bravo objected to the fact pointed out by Hinds that under the new agreement with the WICB the players actually stood to earn more. According to Hinds, the players would get a 15% increase in their match fee across the board along with a hike in the retainer contracts ranging from 12.5 to 25%. The Test-match fee had been increased from $5000 to $5750; ODI fee had been hiked from $2000 to $2300 while the Twenty20 International fee was raised from $1500 to $1725.
Also, there were two new contract categories being included from this season: Category A+ and Category B+. An A+ player's retainer would amount to $150,000; Category A players would get $135,000, compared to $120,000 previously; Category B+ players $125,000; Category B players $115,000, compared to $100,000 previously; and Category C players would get $100,000, an increase of $20,000.
Bravo said that Hinds' assertion was "inaccurate." According to Bravo, the matter was never discussed at the AGM and a perusal of the minutes made that clear.
"Yet, you inaccurately stated that we got a 300% increase in match fees when the truth is the players are in fact receiving 90% less from what previously existed in our overall fees," Bravo wrote. He also wondered why the 25% participation fee paid to the players by the WICB for playing in various ICC tournaments was erased completely. "To cut the participation fee from players who play at ICC events from 25% to zero is unbelievable.
"Mr. Hinds, we have asked for a comparative analysis of what the players earned last contractual year and what they would earn given this new purported MOU. Instead you have presented figures to signal that WIPA got an increase for the players. This is not correct. We once again call on you to provide this comparison," Bravo wrote, concluding a third part of his response would be sent soon.