Bravo’s rash shot

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY - Orville Hig­gins is a sports­caster and talk-show host. Email feed­back to col­umns@glean­erjm.com.

THINGS ARE get­ting from bad to worse. Re­la­tion­ships be­tween se­nior play­ers and the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) have not been great over the last decade. Lest we for­get, the West Indies Play­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion (WIPA) and the WICB were at dag­gers drawn for much of the time that Di­nanath Ram­nar­ine was in charge of the play­ers’ as­so­ci­a­tion.

There were count­less ar­bi­tra­tion ‘vic­to­ries’ for WIPA. The play­ers left no stone un­turned in go­ing for ev­ery­thing to which they thought they were en­ti­tled. There was ac­ri­mony then, there were strikes then, there was pal­pa­ble bad blood then.

It’s stan­dard through­out the work­ing world that there will al­ways be is­sues be­tween those who per­form the labour and those who pay. It’s sim­ply the na­ture of the beast. When you strip away the fa­cade, the harsh re­al­ity is that work­ers will al­ways want as much as they can get for as lit­tle ef­fort as pos­si­ble, and those who con­trol the purses will ideally want to pay as lit­tle as pos­si­ble, while hop­ing to get the great­est re­turn.

Some­times be­tween these two ex­tremes, com­mon ground is found be­tween both par­ties and ev­ery­body is happy. Quite of­ten, com­mon ground is a shift­ing goal post that con­stantly has got to be hag­gled over. Sports has had its fair share of these stand-offs be­tween man­age­ment and play­ers, and the strug­gles be­tween West Indies play­ers and man­age­ment must be seen for what it is: the in­evitable ‘war’ be­tween man­age­ment and worker as each party strives to get the best deal for it­self.

It’s no dif­fer­ent from Ja­maican nurses and po­lice and teach­ers con­stantly at the Ja­maican Gov­ern­ment for im­proved wages. Work­ers will al­ways want more pay, and man­age­ment will al­ways re­sist.

Dur­ing the days when Ram­nar­ine was in charge, I thought I had seen the worst of the player-board re­la­tion­ship. Then at least, the whole process was han­dled with a lit­tle bit more deco­rum. The tone of the rhetoric was a lot more guarded. Nowa­days, it seems to be open sea­son. The play­ers are no longer ‘putting dem mouth a grung when dem a talk’.

The el­der Bravo said, a few months ago, that the WICB was the most un­pro­fes­sional cricket as­so­ci­a­tion in the world and de­scribed the pres­i­dent, Dave Cameron, as im­ma­ture. Daren Sammy’s out­burst at the end of the re­cent Twenty20 tour­na­ment was scathing, drip­ping with vit­riol against the Dave Cameron-led board.

We re­mem­ber Chris Gayle’s in­fa­mous in­ter­view a few years ago in which he spoke from the heart. We thought those were in­ap­pro­pri­ate at best, and hor­ri­ble at worst, but things have now taken a turn for the worse. Now we are see­ing where a player is calling the pres­i­dent “a big idiot” and re­fus­ing to apol­o­gise for it.

There will be those who feel the pres­i­dent of the board didn’t help sit­u­a­tions when he retweeted an un­com­pli­men­tary barb at Chris Gayle a few years ago. It was clearly the wrong move, but to the pres­i­dent’s credit, he sub­se­quently apol­o­gised.

VER­BAL FREE-FOR-ALL

The lat­est saga is clearly a de­scent into a ver­bal freefor-all where the play­ers are get­ting more and more dar­ing. If the trend con­tin­ues, one of these days there will be an ex­ple­tive-laden tirade from play­ers at the board, and some will see noth­ing wrong. Some­thing has got to give.

The WICB pres­i­dent needs to stand his ground. The pun­ish­ment for Bravo must be swift and se­vere. The mes­sage should be sent to these play­ers that no more ver­bal as­saults will be tol­er­ated.

These West Indies crick­eters have gen­uine is­sues. I be­lieve, for ex­am­ple, that it’s un­fair to of­fer Dar­ren Bravo the same con­tract as a rookie just get­ting into the team. No mat­ter how much Bravo’s av­er­age is head­ing south over the last two years, he must be seen as more valu­able, and there­fore, must be on a higher con­trac­tual scale than a debu­tant. That is some­thing that WIPA and the board need to sit down and re­think.

That, how­ever, didn’t give Bravo the right to his “big idiot” re­mark. These West Indies crick­eters need to be re­minded that most of us have is­sues with those of us who write the cheques. Most of us in the labour force be­lieve we are en­ti­tled to more. Most of us come to work and fight our bat­tles daily with­out re­sort­ing to pub­lic name-calling.

A West Indies crick­eter should not be ex­empt from sim­ple de­cency. Some­one said to me re­cently that these play­ers would never de­scend to the level of slack­ness un­der some other pres­i­dents with a greater so­cial pro­file. The play­ers should know that they may not re­spect the per­son, but they should re­spect the of­fice.

BRAVO

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