Clive Lloyd and Michael Holding have blamed the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and the West Indies Players' Association (WIPA) for dragging West Indian cricket into a corner. The WICB and WIPA, which is negotiating on the cricketers' behalf, have agreed to resolve the impasse through mediation and the appointment of former Commonwealth secretary-general Shridath Ramphal as arbitrator but Lloyd and Holding said the problem would not be solved with a temporary resolution.
According to Lloyd, the leading West Indies players had become too "greedy" for their own good and their performances failed to measure up to the "obscene" amount of money they are getting paid. "When you say the West Indies team is going to withdraw from a series it is not that they are short of money. We have players who are millionaires with an average of 15.00 and they are a first-team pick," he said.
Lloyd was astonished about the fact that only three of the first-team players have a batting average of 35-plus [Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Chris Gayle]. "We have players who are being paid $500,000 or more and they do not pay a cent in any tax. We are the only country where players don't pay any tax."
Holding, part of Lloyd's famous fast-bowling quartet that helped establish West Indies' dominance in the 1970s, said the blame lay with both WIPA and the WICB. "The WICB are a dysfunctional organisation that need to realise they are dealing with a modern game and changing times," he said. "They have been left behind due to their inept staff and an outdated board of directors, most of whom take up space instead of offering something to the organisation or the game."
As for the WIPA, Holding was not sure if certain individuals were using the players' body to actually settle personal scores with the board. "Have they [WIPA] ever produced a list of members to show whom they represent?," he said. "Are people involved with their organisation carrying chips on their shoulders or grouses with the board from their playing days?"
Lloyd was not far behind in criticising WIPA. "WIPA is not trying to achieving anything but strengthen their bank balance. When you have an association that caters to various needs of the players, you need to love the game and I do not think we have a lot of people at WIPA who are in love with the game," he said.
As an example Lloyd cites payments for West Indies' tour of England where, according to him, WIPA got away with ransom. His main grouse was why the board needed to pay the five players who had to opt out of the IPL mid-way to join England tour earlier this summer. "WICB received $2 million for the England series but our players wanted 600,000," Lloyd said. "Then we had to compensate someone for missing out on the IPL. What I can't understand why do we need to compensate and pay somebody to play for your country. That to me is nonsense. We moved up to $1.48 million but they stuck to their guns and said the board still had to compensate the players who missed out on the IPL."
Lloyd and Holding agree the WICB was, and has been, the original culprit in the case and both have had a pungent taste of the closed environment within the WICB ranks. A few years ago the pair were part of the cricket committee of the West Indies board, comprising former greats, formed to help pick West Indies cricket out of the rut it had found itself after the retirement of the Sir Viv Richards in the mid-1990s. Holding later resigned over differences of opinion with the board. Both now agree that the board needs a desperate infusion of modern professional methods of governance if the game has to progress in the Caribbean.
"It can't be a case where a board member is there for life. The honorary secretary has been around for 40 years," said Lloyd. "The solution is to include former players into its set-up as that would help administrators manage the game better once they understand clearly where the players are coming from."
Holding said the obvious damage to West Indies cricket is the way sponsors will look upon the entire entity. "The performances on the field have not been heart-warming and if the people entrusted to run the game, the people the sponsors will be interacting with directly, are made to look so incompetent, what will encourage them to get on board with West Indies Cricket?," he said. "Nothing works without sponsorship in the Caribbean. It is not a rich part of the world."
According to Lloyd, the only way for players to be on top of the bargaining is by "winning", but the WICB needs to take charge as well. "WICB needs to be in charge just like other countries' boards - Australia, England etc - are."
As a long-term solution, Holding suggested that both organisations first get their act together and become trustworthy. "They then need to copy the formula used by Cricket Australia to compensate their cricketers. It is a very equitable formula that is not a secret and both their players association and the board are happy with it."
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo