Bravo’s rash shot
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.
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.