WIPA on the Retainer Contract Exclusion of Guyanese Batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan

WIPA condemns the exclusion of Ramnaresh Sarwan from the list of players to be retained by the WICB for 2010-2011, in light of conflicting statements by the Chief Executive Officer of the West Indies Cricket Board, Dr. Ernest Hilaire. Since Mr. Ramnaresh Sarwan is one of the most senior and experienced batsmen in the West Indies cricket team, the Board’s decision has been questioned by “experts” and other fans alike.

Ramnaresh Sarwan

Ramnaresh Sarwan

Dr. Hilaire had, by letter of January 2010, informed Mr. Sarwan that, following a review of the West Indies Team Report of the October/November 2009 tour to Australia, it was drawing to his attention the Board’s concern about his attitude and approach to fitness and physical preparation. The report of this review has never been seen by either WIPA or Mr. Sarwan. By letter of January 11th 2010 the WICB acknowledged that it was not highlighting any specific incidents regarding these concerns but that its letter was merely to sensitize Mr. Sarwan to its desire for a higher level of commitment and application from him as a contracted player with the West Indies cricket team. The Chief Executive Officer‘s letter to Mr. Sarwan was copied to the President and CEO of WIPA, Mr. Dinanath Ramnarine.

By letter of January 21st, WIPA requested that the WICB specify the instances where Mr. Sarwan has demonstrated such apparently negative behavioral traits and also notified the WICB that since the supposed findings of a “review team” was never discussed with Mr. Sarwan that he should have the opportunity to be heard on the matter. WIPA also made it clear that it would be inequitable to take such a report into consideration with regard to any future selection processes pertinent to Mr. Sarwan in these circumstances. The WICB has not responded on this matter.

WIPA questions the WICB’s decision not to offer Mr. Sarwan a retainer contract for 2010-2011, the comments made in defense of the WICB’s decision and the consequential effect on Mr. Saran’s image that may flow from this.

The following chronology of events demonstrates that Mr. Sarwan’s injuries were sustained in Australia 2009 (back injury) and in the home series against South Africa 2010 (hamstring injury) while engaged in an official duties with the West Indies team:

  • Mr. Sarwan sustained a back injury during the October/November 2009 tour to Australia by the West Indies cricket team, while attempting to catch a ball during an official training session with the team.
  • The diagnosis by the team’s physiotherapist was that he was suffering from back spasms and he was treated for back spasms. This treatment did not bring any relief to Mr. Sarwan who thereafter insisted on being seen by a doctor.
  • Mr. Sarwan was eventually sent to a doctor who recommended a particular injection and a CT scan. The former treatment regime was then changed and Mr Sarwan felt slightly better although still suffering from pain and discomfort, Mr. Sarwan played the second test.
  • The pain arising from the injury got worse during the third test, but Mr. Sarwan’s request for an MRI was refused by the team management because of the WICB’s refusal to pay for this service.
  • Mr. Sarwan insisted on having the MRI done even though it meant having to pay for it from his own pocket, even though he was still a member of the team to Australia. Cricket Australia eventually paid for the MRI.
  • Following the tour, and at his own expense, he proceeded to Florida for treatment after which he was then able to play cricket again.
  • While in Florida, he kept in regular contact with the Chairman of the Selectors, Mr Clyde Butts, who advised him to play in the last two regional games. However, his doctor recommended that he should play only in the last game where he scored a century. Mr Butts further advised that Mr. Sarwan should miss the T/20 games against Zimbabwe so that he could become even more fit for the WI v Zimbabwe ODIs.
  • Mr. Sarwan has always followed all such instructions and decisions taken.
  • Between these series Mr Sarwan participated in a 10-day optional camp and received kudos, reported in the media, from Coach Gibson for his level of commitment in all areas of training.
  • Mr. Sarwan satisfied all the fitness requirements required by the WICB trainer and physiotherapist after the Ireland series March 2010.
  • Mr. Sarwan played in the Home Series against South Africa and injured his hamstring attempting to take a quick single.
  • Due to the nature of the injury, though Mr. Sarwan was offered treatment in Guyana, after medical advice he obtained treatment in Canada again at his own expense. He worked assiduously with a well-qualified and well-equipped institution to manage his injuries so that he could resume playing again in the shortest possible timeframe.

It should also be noted that at no time during the Australian tour of 2009 or the South Africa home series or any past or future tours was there any complaint by Management about Mr. Sarwan’s attitude on or off the field or his commitment to training.

Mr. Sarwan has indicated that the WICB Chairman of Selectors Mr. Butts had informed him, when he was not offered a Retainer Contract for 2010/11, that his exclusion was due to concerns about his level of fitness and the frequency of injuries he sustains, but noted that Mr. Butts had never indicated to him during this or any other previous conversation that there were concerns about any attitudinal or behavioral issues relating to him.

At WIPA’s Awards ceremony in June 2010 Mr. Sarwan copped the major awards of international cricketer of the year and test cricketer of the year for 2009.

Mr. Sarwan’s situation as detailed above is not singular and WIPA is in the process of examining the cases of other excluded players which it believes need to be reconsidered.

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