aydee wrote:Interesting stuff.
I really like the concept of the PCL. This step seemed essential for WI cricket, and if it was not possible without the national team players' wage cuts, then I fully support the board over Sammy et al on that particular issue.
Yes, on that I agree.
I'm elated about the West Indies' men and women gaining the World T20 titles (especially in the face of so many writing the West Indies off as crappy - I'm not sure why some people seem intent on disparaging any team ever, whether by calling them minnows or crap...I think it reflects poorly on the person saying it). And yes, Sammy and the other do have legitimate grievances with the manner in which the board handles affairs (the board is often high-handed and arrogant) but compromise requires both sides to give something up. That is not something the players are used to since Ramnarine used to be able to get things to go 100% the players way in disputes with the board as a result of an MOU that was heavily skewed in favour of the Players' Association at the time. What was nice about the way the men's team went about their dispute with the board this time was that they didn't withdraw their services as in the past. Instead they did what I think they should have been doing all along - play on, play hard, play well and freaking WIN to give themselves a strong negotiating hand. In the past Ramnarine would encourage striking but that produced a negative feedback loop since the frequent strikes would discourage fans from watching the West Indian players and thus decrease the revenue of the board and thereby decreasing the earning capacity of the very board that the players wanted more money from. And it is not like cricket is some kind of essential service like garbage collection, the police or firefighters. With essential services, the general population will be clamouring for their return. With cricket the general population will simply decide to focus on entertaining themselves in other ways. So the players were shooting the board and themselves in the foot with the strikes. Had they instead focused on winning they would have brought in more money and kept the public interested and on the side of the players and then just sued the board if resolution was not forthcoming.
Having become so used to having their cake and eating it, for many players they now seem unable to come back to the reality that it cannot always be so. This is even reflected in their demands to negotiate separately from the West Indies Players' Association (WIPA). This is very comical because the Board was sued by Ramnarine (successfully) for attempting to do just that in the past when Ramnarine was head of WIPA. So according to the courts, the WICB cannot negotiate with the players entirely separate from the WIPA. The players back then backed Ramnarine on the issue. Now they have been wanting the board to do exactly that which they successfully sued the board for trying to do in the first place. The irony. Luckily for them Cameron has invited them to dicussions in June (but WIPA will be in attendance, so I think it can be fudged that they aren't negotiating separately).
What the board seems
to be pushing for now is for the various global T20 players to commit to playing domestic cricket in the West Indies as well. I see nothing wrong with that and indeed, Cameron in an interview recently said part of the motivation behind it was to have those players impart the skills and experience they pick up around the world on the other local players. So in that sense Cameron has a very good point - if players are going to play in the domestic T20 competitions in South Africa, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan/UAE, England and Australia then that doesn't leave any time really for them to play domestic cricket in the West Indies. After all for those competitions this is what the general schedule looks like:
- November to mid December: Ram Slam in South Africa; BPL in Bangladesh
- mid December to end of January: BBL in Australia
- basically all of February: PSL in Pakistan/UAE
- start of April to end of May (some of the best time to play international cricket in the West Indies by the way): IPL in India (and the WICB has now been unofficially avoiding scheduling international matches in April/May now)
- mid May to end of August: Natwest T20 Blast in England
- June to July: CPL in the West Indies
out of interest and for completeness, the Sri Lankan T20 competition is from the end of December to the end of January, the New Zealander competition is from November to December and Zimbabwe's is in February.
So in theory with the PCL covering the Regional Four Day competition (from start of November to end of March with a break in January for the Nagico Super50) and the Nagico Super50 (basically all of January) it is quite possible for the elite players to miss the entire 50 overs competition and most of the the 4-day competition due to commitments in South Africa, Bangladesh, Australia and Pakistan/UAE.
I have no issue with players wanting to maximize their earnings, but surely they could come to some agreement that they would play at least one (or better yet at least two) matches in the List A competition and in the First Class competition for the year. After all these same players make themselves available for the CPL in June and July (granted most of them are actually free at that time since only Darren Sammy and Chris Gayle play in the English competition I believe; but even so Sammy and Gayle are available for the CPL and then go to the Natwest T20 Blast).
How hard would it be to play say one round of four day cricket in November (we had 3 rounds in November) and then go about your business in South Africa and Bangladesh and then Australia before returning home to play two List A matches in January (say January 7 and 9) before going back to Australia for the BBL and then when the PSL is finished at the end of February coming home again to play in the final two rounds of first class cricket in March before heading to India for the IPL? Even if you skip the November round of first-class cricket it should still be possible to devote say 5 days in January as well as 2-3 weeks in March for domestic cricket in the West Indies.
And presto! All those players would become eligible for selection in all formats and also eligible for retainers (if they so choose). But the players need to be honest with themselves, the fans and the board about what they want. They can't claim to want to play test cricket but then the ONLY first-class cricket they plan to play is test cricket. It's not supposed to work like that and it will cause up and coming players to question why the can't do like Gayle or Bravo and just get selected for the Test team while only playing Twenty20 cricket around the world. In any case as I pointed out earlier a lack of first-class cricket experience has shown up in the way Bravo played in his last few first-class matches (he was by no means dazzling and certainly didn't warrant test selection ahead of some others based on stats alone). Perhaps though if he attempted to transfer his more recent skills of mixing up the speed of his deliveries to both the List A and FC domestic cricket in the West Indies he might get better returns and become a sure pick for the Test and ODI squads.
The board has many other things it needs to do (establish a longer women's competition and encourage each territorial board to set up school cricket competition for girls and club/league competitions for women outside of the school system for instance) but there some things it has gotten right so far even if the execution could have been better...and in light of the above I have to wonder if the Board's plans to shift the PCL to a start time in May might not be an attempt to further appease the elite players by scheduling the competition so it doesn't clash with the Twenty20 competitions around the world (except for England's).
I don't think that would be the right move on account of the fact that the players need to recognize that there needs to be a balance. Shifting our own domestic competition to a time of unfavourable weather just so the players can play in every possible match in the rest of the world is...well..stupid. What if at some point the English clubs begin drafting many of the West Indians? That will only really leave the months of March, September and October as being free for the West Indies to schedule not only their domestic competition but their international fixtures. That's ridiculous. Other players from other countries strike the balance between overseas commitments and domestic and international commitments and it should be no different for the West Indian players.