Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
The West Indies players have said the WICB was responsible for the decision to pull out of their ongoing tour of India because of a dispute over the payment structure. In a letter to WICB president Dave Cameron, West Indies captain Dwayne Bravo wrote the players were "disheartened and extremely disappointed" that the board had decided to engage with the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) despite the players' instruction not to do so with regard to discussions on their behalf.
The failure to heed the players' appeal and to find a resolution to the payment-structure dispute, which the players felt left them disadvantaged, was a "grave injustice," according to Bravo and had left to the decision to abandon the tour after the fourth ODI in Dharamsala.
West Indies' participation in the tour of India had been in doubt before the first ODI in Kochi, when the players expressed concerns about the new memorandum of understanding (MoU) and combined business agreement signed by WICB and WIPA in September. The players felt that under the new structure their payments would be affected adversely by as much as 90%.
Acting as the players' representative, Bravo sought answers from WIPA chief executive and president Wavell Hinds to questions over the MoU, which the captain said the players had not seen to date. Bravo asked Hinds to step down, a demand that was refused. Bravo then sought WICB's help to resolve the matter, but Cameron responded on saying the board would communicate only with WIPA as the players representative. That step from WICB, Bravo said, forced the players to take the extreme measure of pulling out of the tour.
"We were truly hoping that the WICB together with WIPA and/or the players would do everything in their power to seriously address the concerns of the players. Regrettably, this has not happened," Bravo wrote in an email to Cameron before the fourth ODI.
"Mr. President, having taken the field in good faith, [we] appealed to WIPA to address our concerns to no avail and asked the WICB to demonstrate with action, what is often bandied about in words, namely that they are interested in player welfare and partnership, it seems to us that there has been no reciprocal action
"As a consequence and as a matter of principle, we cannot be party to this grave injustice. The players regretfully wish to advise that they can no longer accept this situation, which has affected each and every player in a very negative way. The players are under tremendous stress and undue pressure. We have informed the Manager and Coach of our decision to return home with the hope that these issues will be addressed to the satisfaction of all."
In the letter to Bravo where he said the WICB would only deal with the WIPA as the players representative, Cameron had asked the team to focus on the task at hand: "complete the series successfully." Bravo, however, told Cameron the players had only played the first four ODIs "in good faith" but that stance could not be misinterpreted as their acceptance of the MoU. "Our decision to play in India was in no way intended to convey an acceptance by the players of the unreasonable terms and conditions put forward to us by WICB nor was it intended as an expression of our acceptance of the purported new Memorandum of Understanding."
In his communication to Cameron and Hinds, Bravo had said that until the dispute was resolved, the players should be paid under the old structure, which would benefit all parties. Cameron did not agree and argued in the favour of the new MoU. "For the record, I would point out to you our view that the new MOU/CBA creates a clear, sustainable, long-term compensation structure, so that we avoid the uncertainties and confusion associated with previous one - off negotiations on a case-by-case basis and the loose, informal arrangements of the past."
Cameron also had indicated the WICB would be happy "mediating the apparent issues between yourselves and WIPA - and are willing if invited, to do so" but only under the new guidelines set under the September MoU. Bravo, however, asked how the WICB could play a mediating role when it was party to the agreement players did not accept.
"We note your offer to mediate since in your view this is a matter between WIPA and its members. We wish to state that while you may have been well intended, the offer to mediate on a document that the WICB is a party to cannot be entertained," Bravo said.
The players have been angered by Hinds' claim that a resolution was passed approving the new pay structure at a WIPA AGM, which was attended by senior West Indies players Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Bravo and Ramnaresh Sarwan, on February 1. Bravo has been adamant in his exchanges with Hinds that no vote was taken and no resolution passed.
Bravo told Cameron the players were not against reform and would support WICB as long as they were brought on board. "The players' issue is that there has been no resolution, no mandate, no consultation, no prior Board approval as far as WIPA is concerned and yet there is an agreement of unreasonable terms and conditions. In addition to the issue of deficient representation there is a case that the purported MOU may be wholly unjust and unfair and the new salary structure is untenable. In these circumstances the players feel there is sufficient basis to ask for its termination and its renegotiation."
The fourth ODI in Dharamsala began with the West Indies players standing beside Bravo at the toss while their captain said, "Time to make a decision," and news of the pullout broke during the first innings.