WICB surprised by timing of cricketers’ demands

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Bridgetown (Barbados), Feb 11 (IANS) The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) has questioned the timing of the Twenty20 World Cup squad’s contract demands, and says if players refuse to sign by Sunday’s deadline, replacements will have to be found.

An exasperated WICB chief executive Michael Muirhead, said the new contract pay structure had been discussed at mediation last May, agreed to by players’ union, the West Indies Players Association (WIPA), and communicated to all players, reports CMC.

Since then, Muirhead said, the contracts had been used in three bilateral tours, so the WICB was now surprised by the latest development since it believed all outstanding contractual issues had been resolved.

“It cannot be that (days before) they leave on the 20th for the World Cup that this group of players wants to come and renegotiate something or negotiate something that is different from what we had circulated,” Muirhead said on Wednesday.

“There must be something wrong. They had it in their possession and were well aware what was being paid from April of last year and we haven’t varied anything.”

“We have stood by exactly what is in there, and now to be faced by them wanting to renegotiate and wanting to go back to the table … is something that I just can’t see how we can accommodate at this point in time.”

He added: “That’s a surprise to me. It’s the first time since we have gone through all that (mediation that) this is coming up again. We have done everything. We have gone through, we have discussed and, as far as we were concerned, all things were now laid to rest and we were moving forward.”

“Now they have come and say they do not want to accept. That sounds like some conspiracy to me.”

Muirhead said last year’s mediation – involving the WICB, WIPA, the International Cricketers Association (FICA) and a representative from the International Cricket Council (ICC) – had hammered out the new details of the players’ contracts.

The changes in contracts were necessary because of an ICC revamp which saw the introduction of a new pay structure for member teams, where monies would be distributed over an eight-year period instead of for individual tournaments.

Muirhead said these changes were distributed to players in hard copy and via email, with copies also given to franchises and territorial to pass on to players.

“This was what was agreed at the meeting when we had the mediation, and we distributed and communicated this to all players across the region,” the top WICB official explained.

“When all of this came out in April/ May, we played under those same conditions (against) England, Sri Lanka, Australia. Why was nothing brought up then to say this is not what we agreed to play under?”

“We increased their fees, we did everything – gave them all the benefits that were there – but at this point in time, 12 days before they leave for] the tournament, they want to hold the West Indies Cricket Board to ransom. There must be something wrong.”

The T20 squad have argued that, under the previous arrangement, the lowest paid player was guaranteed almost $60,000, while the highest player stood to make almost $138,000.

With only $27,600 on offer for the upcoming tournament, the players contend this represents up to a 80 percent reduction in earnings.

Muirhead countered by pointing out that players’ match fees had been tripled, while they would also receive 50 per cent of any sponsorship fees and the “lion’s share” of prize money.

With players refusing to accept the terms on offer, Muirhead said the board would be left with no alternative but to move ahead without them if they did not sign the contracts.

“They have been given a contract and asked to sign it and they have a deadline of Sunday afternoon. If they don’t sign by Sunday afternoon then they are indicating to me that they do not wish to take up the contract under the terms that we have offered,” Muirhead contended.

“So the only option left for the West Indies Cricket Board would be to replace them … I can’t see any other solution at this point in time.”

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