A hasty decision

In the ongoing tug of war between the WICB and the players, both the sides have unfortunately allowed their hearts to rule their minds. In their quest to prove a point to each other, they have not paused to muse on the repercussions of their decisions.

A standoff between the administrators and the players can prove to be healthy for the sport, but it does hinge on the way it is concluded. The recent decision of the West Indies team to walk out of the tour of India does not augur well for the overall growth and image of cricket in that neck of the woods. In a face-off with regard to payments, there will come a stage when the governing body disregards everything else in its quest to prove that it cannot be held to ransom. On the other hand, the sportsmen would like to convey that they cannot be short-changed either. Both sides are obviously fighting for what they perceive is of paramount importance to them.

But in the ongoing tug of war between the WICB and the players, both the sides have unfortunately allowed their hearts to rule their minds. In their quest to prove a point to each other, they have not paused to muse on the repercussions of their decisions. The decision of the players to return in the middle of a tour can only be termed as hasty, as the impasse could have been solved after the completion of the tour. In a way, the players have cut the very branch on which they were sitting. How did they expect to get a pay raise if their decision results in WICB not getting the guarantee money from the BCCI?

I remember being a part of the Indian team that demanded a pay hike prior to the tour of Pakistan in 1989, but despite the BCCI not acceding to our demands, we decided to go ahead. That decision was taken on the contention that, though money was the bone of contention, the issue was not necessarily all about money. The BCCI did contemplate sending an alternate squad then. However, the WICB does not have the luxury of thinking along those lines for obvious reasons. While the players have perhaps decided on emotions rather than reason, the WICB has failed horribly in handling the situation.

The need of the hour was for the administrators to explicitly state to the players the ramifications of a hasty decision. After all, they are more knowledgeable about what is at stake in every respect, as players can be single-tunnelled in their vision, especially when they are in the middle of a tour. On their part, the WICB failed to realise that the West Indies have gradually improved upon their performances in recent years, buoyed by the fact that good performances in international cricket will lead to lucrative IPL contracts. Of course, the players cannot be allowed to take things for granted, but it is the duty of the administrators to settle an issue using every tack at their disposal. As a result, things have completely gone off the screws.

The immediate future does look bleak for the WICB as well as the players. No country will take to a snub kindly and therefore, the BCCI will be well within its limits to react strongly. It is an open secret that the West Indies board cannot call the shots as it could perhaps do when Lloyd and his men were ruling the cricketing world. The legacy that those legendary cricketers left behind makes the fans across the world still hope that the West Indies will entertain them with their unique brand of cricket. But the recent episode does trigger some anxiety on that front, as there is a possibility that the WICB could cut short the careers of some immensely talented cricketers. Dwayne Bravo has endeared himself to millions of fans with his all-round ability, but one wonders if he has taken a decision that will not only be a setback for him but also for West Indies cricket in the end. The Kerry Packer series made the administrators see things differently, but whether the WICB will muster enough objectivity in its future decision-making and set its house in order remains to be seen.