WIPA responds to WICB’s CEO re – scheduling of regional cricket



WIPA is dismayed at the response of the Chief Executive Officer of the WICB, Dr. Ernest Hilaire, to its continued recommendation that the Regional Four-Day Tournament should remain two rounds instead of one, as the Board has recently announced.

The main thrust of WIPA’s position is the insufficiency of cricket being played in this tournament which, therefore, does not provide for adequate preparation for participation against opponents from other countries whose state and county competitions are of much longer durations.

In fact, our investigations have revealed that West Indies will now be playing the least amount of cricket of all ICC full member countries. The WICB prepared the West Indies team for the just concluded Test tour of Australia with four One Day games and will follow up with seven First Class games and no Twenty20 Tournament for a One Day Tour of Australia followed by the Home Series. There are other obstacles preventing the senior West Indies team from competing on a level playing field with cricketers from other ICC full member countries but lack of preparation should not be one.

The WICB’s media statement, issued over the weekend, is unfortunately loaded with inaccuracies and innuendos, which, if left uncorrected, could convey to an unsuspecting public the impression that WIPA has been demonstrating a certain degree of unreasonableness in its stance on the duration of the regional tournament.

In keeping with its commitment to transparency and acknowledgment of the West Indian public as a key stakeholder in West Indies cricket, WIPA issued a 15 point plan following its Board Meeting of December 3rd last which included its views on the Regional Four Day Tournament. This is a matter of scheduling which needs to be agreed to by both WICB and WIPA.

The subsequent announcement by the WICB of a schedule for the Regional Four Day Tournament could therefore be misconstrued to have been agreed to by WIPA. A media release from the Association on the 23rd December 2009 was issued to set the record straight.

It is important to note that this matter of scheduling is very important to the players. Among other things, it gives them advance notice of the schedule of cricket and therefore gives an indication as to whether their services will be required for certain parts of the year so that they may pursue other means of earning a living. Further, the venues for matches must be decided based on which venue is adequately suited to host international matches and meet the standards that the parties have agreed to rather than on what now seems to apply.

Contrary to the WICB’s claim, WIPA never stated in its release that there was no consultation with the WICB. What WIPA pointed out was that, in accordance with the MOU between both parties, no agreement was reached on the schedule of cricket for the 2009/2010 season. In spite of this, WIPA indicated its willingness to continue the discussions with a view to reaching a mutually acceptable decision.

Request for such meeting(s) was communicated to the WICB in writing and through telephonic contacts. Curiously, when WIPA and the WICB Cricket Operations Officer, Mr. Tony Howard, agreed to continue discussions on December 4, 2009, the curt response from the CEO, Dr. Hilarie was “for what purpose?”.

It must be noted that the MOU requires finalization of the schedule of cricket by September 30, 2009. On September 18, 2009, the first (draft) fixtures were received by WIPA which included two rounds of matches. However, on November 16, 2009 a new fixture list was received from the WICB in which only one round of matches was included. WIPA reiterated its objections to the reduction, pointing to the shortness of the tournament, the inadequacy of time for preparation and the need to play against higher level teams from outside the region to sharpen the competitive edge of the players.

During its discussions with the WICB, WIPA was never provided with any strategic objectives or philosophical underpinning for reverting to one round apart from the cost factor which was tabled without details. WIPA became aware of an Under-23 tournament, an Academy team visiting India, a development team tour to Canada, and an A Team programme for 2010/11 through the recent media statement by the WICB.

While there was mention of an intention to pursue A Team matches against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, there were no details of when and where these matches were going to take place. WIPA supports having A Team matches but is of the view that the West Indies A Team should play against opposition of higher ranking and better structure such as Australia, India and England so that these players may continue learning and developing.

Furthermore, no financial details were given by the WICB to allow for a proper evaluation in terms of savings and immediate and medium-term development. Thus WIPA was deprived of the opportunity to explore and propose alternative models or to suggest a compromise position. It is always WIPA’s interest to have cricket played for the mutual benefit of all stakeholders.

WIPA seriously questions the decision of the WICB to abandon the two round games in the regional tournament. It wonders about the inputs, if any, of the Cricket Committee, the Marketing Committee and Directors of the WICB themselves in this decision. WIPA’s understanding is that they played no role.

Who then made the decision?

Were all the avenues explored to secure sponsorship? The WICB has the exclusive right to secure sponsorship for their events but for the past two years there have been no sponsors for this tournament. Yet it appears that the WICB is going to spend far more with its proposal than to have hosted two rounds of matches and two development tours.

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