Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo
BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel has blamed the WICB for failing to resolve internal issues, which resulted in the series being called off with an ODI, a Twenty20 and three Tests still to be played. The players, Patel said, had to be "convinced" to take the field for the Dharamsala ODI, though he still sympathised with their situation.
According to Patel, he, on behalf of the BCCI, had given the WICB president Dave Cameron a deadline of Thursday, the eve of the Dharamsala ODI, to confirm that the West Indies will respect the commitment of the full series despite the dispute between WICB, West Indies Players Association and the team members. The duo met on the sidelines of the ICC Business Corporation Board meeting in Dubai over the weekend.
"After I spoke with the West Indies players in Kochi, the players agreed to play but everyone knew that the dispute was still unresolved. We were hearing that someone from WICB was to meet the players in Kolkata [ahead of the fifth ODI on October 20]," Patel told ESPNcricinfo. "We needed clarity and reaffirmation of their commitment about the tour, so I told Mr Cameron to confirm to us by Thursday that the series will not be interrupted."
Patel said Cameron tried to explain to him that he was "trying his best" to resolve the issue, but his hands were tied. "I told him you cannot put an international series in jeopardy due to internal issues," Patel said. "No board should let internal issues affect international cricket, after all."
Instead of receiving any communication from the WICB, though, Patel got a call "very early in the morning" on Friday from a "support staff member of the Indian team". "I was told that the West Indies players have refused to play any further part in the series. It came as a shock."
Patel then asked Anurag Thakur, the BCCI joint-secretary whose home association was to stage the Dharamsala ODI, to convince the West Indies players to take the field. He felt calling a match off on the morning of it would have been detrimental to the BCCI, the broadcasters and the fans, Patel said. "All the tickets had been sold out, so it wouldn't have been fair to the public. Anurag managed to convince them and they agreed to play the match around noon."
Thakur confirmed that he had spoken to the players but, he said, it was not easy to convince them to play. "Despite [attempting] every bit of convincing, they were hell bent on not playing," Thakur said. "Before the BCCI decided to prepare a formal announcement [on the status of the tour], I personally went up to the players in order to talk them into not pulling out [of the Dharamsala ODI] and fortunately succeeded in my quest."
Given the time difference, Patel said he thought he would hear from the WICB once the day started in the Caribbean. Instead, just when the match was about to start, he received an email from Richie Richardson, the West Indies team manager, that said "the team will not be in a position to continue with the series". "You cannot call a tour off unilaterally. It is not just unprofessional but is also detrimental to the game at large," Patel said.
Patel insisted he did not blame the players, though. "Whatever is the case, the onus is on the board to not let things slip up to such lows. We are extremely disappointed with the unilateral decision."
Thakur was not as forgiving to the players. He said the BCCI should seek ICC action against them and the WICB, as well as compensation for the losses caused by the tour being called off.
"First, the BCCI should file a complaint with the ICC about the behaviour of players and the West Indies board," Thakur said. "Second, in order to have successful future tours, BCCI should not play with the Windies. Third, it should also file a claim for compensation with the WICB - the amount of revenue it is going to lose. And fourth, also the local associations, those that have spent truckloads of money to get everything in place only to have one of the teams pull out, should take necessary actions.
"I do sympathise with the West Indies cricketers but this is no way to deal with a matter or to take a decision. They could have made up their mind before coming to India - they may have some valid reasons but at the same time this is not the way to behave."