Tit for tat and trou­ble yet again

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORTS - Tony Becca

EV­ERY TIME that West In­dies cricket ap­pears to make a move for­ward, some­thing hap­pens to dampen the spirit around it.

There al­ways seems to be a fight be­tween the board and the play­ers, espe­cially the se­nior play­ers. It is as if one is us­ing the new-found achieve­ment, or the flicker of a good per­for­mance, to show the other who is the boss.

It seems as if the fight is to keep the other one in its place, and it ap­pears as if it does not mat­ter to them what hap­pens to West In­dies cricket.

The lat­est war clouds came with the an­nounce­ment of the cen­tral con­tracts for West In­dies play­ers for 2016-17 and the board’s de­ci­sion not to of­fer an ‘A’ con­tract to any­one but in­stead to of­fer a ‘B’ con­tract to only two, and to of­fer ‘C’ con­tracts to the other 10 con­tracted play­ers.

The only two play­ers of­fered ‘B’ con­tracts were Kraigg Brath­waite and Mar­lon Samuels.

De­spite a fi­nan­cial prob­lem, it seems strange that the board chose to of­fer only 12 con­tracts to the West In­dies team, and it seems strange also be­cause 11 play­ers make up the team; the team plays in three types of tour­na­ments – Test, One-day, and T20; and the play­ers for each team change ever so of­ten.

What has be­come of, or what will be­come of, play­ers like De­nesh Ramdin and Ke­mar Roach?

It also seems strange that de­spite the ap­par­ent fair­ness of the sit­u­a­tion, the board chose not to of­fer ‘A’ con­tracts to any of the play­ers – pos­si­bly to Mar­lon Samuels, its se­nior player; to Dar­ren Bravo, ar­guably its best bats­man re­cently; to Kraigg Brath­waite, its sheet-an­chor bats­man; to Ja­son Holder, the cap­tain of the team; and to one like Deven­dra Bishoo.

‘C’ GRADE CON­TRACTS

It seems strange, though it is prob­a­bly jus­ti­fied based on con­sis­tency, that the West In­dies team, once the best in the world, the team that ev­ery­body, or al­most ev­ery­body, said would be back on top by now, or near to the top, is made up of play­ers fit for only ‘C’ grade con­tracts.

Dave Cameron, the pres­i­dent of the board, has tried to clear up any mis­un­der­stand­ings over Bravo’s con­tract, how­ever.

In a re­lease on the mat­ter, Cameron said: “It is ex­plicit. If your av­er­ages are not above a cer­tain level, it tells you what con­tracts you will get. It is very, very dif­fi­cult. His (Bravo’s) av­er­ages over the past two years have been de­clin­ing, so what do you do? Re­ward poor per­for­mances, or do you en­cour­age him to get bet­ter?”

He con­tin­ued:”If you keep giv­ing him ‘A’ con­tracts, then what is the mo­ti­va­tion to get bet­ter?”

Cameron may be right, in a way, espe­cially re­mem­ber­ing Sa­muel’s re­cent Test per­for­mances, if he can an­swer why, if cur­rent per­for­mance is re­ally worth much more than past per­for­mance, Samuels was of­fered a ‘B’ con­tract against Bravo’s ‘C’ con­tract for 2017.

Maybe the of­fer was based upon Samuels’ in­valu­able in­nings in the fi­nal of the T20 world cham­pi­onship, and prob­a­bly for­get­ting their re­spec­tive batting av­er­ages, and espe­cially so, Bravo’s bril­liant cen­tury against Pak­istan re­cently.

It is said to­day that sport is busi­ness, and big busi­ness at that. Sport, how­ever, is sport. Per­for­mances come and per­for­mances go, and maybe the best way to deal with pay­ment in sports to­day is the way it used to be dealt with, cer­tainly in the West In­dies, and in foot­ball.

Once you have made your name, you never lose pay or money. You get paid for who you are, or for what you used to be, not re­ally for what you do, at least not per match or per sea­son.

In the West In­dies, you do not treat a Dar­ren Bravo, or a Bishoo, or a Holder like you do a Miguel Cum­mins, or a Jomel War­ri­can, or even one as promis­ing as Alzarra Joseph. You just do not do that. You will be de­scribed as “diss­ing” the young man.

Dar­ren Bravo, who once chose to play Test cricket over T20 cricket, may now join what has been de­scribed as “the gravy train”: he may now join the likes of brother Dwayne, Chris Gayle, An­dré Rus­sell, Dar­ren Sammy, Kieron Pow­ell, Lendl Sim­mons, Sa­muel Badree, Su­nil Narine, Holder, Samuels, Ni­co­las Pooran, and com­pany in the money leagues around the world in a bid to make up for the loss.

Maybe the whole thing has re­ally come about be­cause of the lack of money needed to ful­fil the con­tracts, but what is al­most cer­tain, Dar­ren Bravo may be one more player miss­ing, not only from Test cricket, but from West In­dies first-class cricket, from the league ex­pected to de­velop the play­ers who should take the West In­dies back to the top or near to it.

WHY COM­PLAIN NOW?

Some­thing is strange in all of this. Cameron says: “It is ex­plicit. If your av­er­ages are not above a cer­tain level, it tells you what con­tract you will get.”

That means that the play­ers knew what was in the con­tract, and if that is so, why did they not com­plain be­fore? Why wait un­til con­tract time comes around?

Is it that the player, or play­ers, feel that he or they would not be af­fected; that he or they are so good that they can­not fail to per­form?

That at­ti­tude of some of these West In­dies play­ers would not sur­prise me.

What is the strangest thing of all, how­ever, is the tweet that Dar­ren Bravo sent out to all and sundry in re­sponse to Cameron’s at­tempt to clear the air.

If it is true, it is to­tally dis­re­spect­ful.

“You have been fail­ing for the last 4 years. Y don’t U re­sign, and FYI, I’ve neva been given a A con­tract. Big idiot,” tweeted Bravo,

That is go­ing too far – a West In­dies player, a se­nior player, a young man, say­ing that the pres­i­dent of the West In­dies Cricket Board has failed for the last four years, ask­ing him why he does not re­sign, call­ing him a liar, and la­belling him a big idiot.

That shows the big di­vide be­tween the play­ers, the board, and the pres­i­dent, and that ex­em­pli­fies the prob­lem of West In­dies cricket.

WITH­DRAWN CON­TRACTS

The board has since with­drawn his con­tract. Dar­ren Bravo has since been pulled from the team for the Tri-Na­tions in Zim­babwe for “in­ap­pro­pri­ate and un­ac­cept­able” be­hav­iour, and he has been told that he must apol­o­gise to the pres­i­dent for the dis­parag­ing com­ments and prob­a­bly for us­ing the tweet as Cameron him­self once did.

Two wrongs do not make one right, and Bravo was un­doubt­edly wrong.

The ques­tion that many, in­clud­ing me, are ask­ing is this: Is Cameron, by get­ting in­volved with the day-to-day op­er­a­tions of cricket and by do­ing the job of the Cricket Com­mit­tee, act­ing as the pres­i­dent of the board or as the CEO of the board? Or does the board have two CEOs? Or is it a one­man or­gan­i­sa­tion?

The peo­ple, the cricket fans, are also ask­ing why Richard Py­bus, a for­eigner, and de­spite him be­ing the tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor of cricket, was given the power to with­draw Bravo’s con­tract, to de­mand an apol­ogy from Bravo, and to de­ter­mine what fur­ther penal­ties, if any, he Bravo faces as pun­ish­ment for his de­plorable ac­tions.

It is strange, and sur­pris­ing, if it is re­ally Py­bus’ pen and Py­bus’ hand that made the de­mands – that in this day and age – a non-West In­dian can stop a West In­dian player from rep­re­sent­ing the West In­dies re­gard­less of the cir­cum­stances.

The war clouds are spread­ing, again and omi­nously so.

West In­dies bats­man Dar­ren Bravo.

PY­BUS

CAMERON

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