Within any sport or any organization, there is always a list of terms and conditions under which employees and employed mutually and legally agree to work with. This is called a contract.
Cricket West Indies board has always sought to implement contractual arrangements with players be it formal or informal according to the various tours players were on. On March 4, 2005, then Board president Teddy Griffiths lamented about West Indies Cricket being ‘strapped for cash’ at the time and as a consequence, the Board has operated for the majority of the period between 2000 and today under severe financial constraints.
In an effort to standardise player contracts, Cricket West Indies board has been negotiating, for the past several months, with the West Indies Players’ Association to conclude a Collective Labour Agreement, Memorandum of Understanding, Retainer Contract and Match/Tour Contract. While an agreement has been reached in principle on the Collective Labour Agreement and Memorandum of Understanding, and considerable progress was made in agreement over the conditions of the Match/Tour Contract, the parties have been unable to reach agreement on the financial value of Retainer Contracts.
In the initial stages, retainer contracts meant guaranteed payment to the player for the duration, which is typically a year. The payment is designed, among other things, to allow the contracted player to focus on his cricket year round whether or not he is selected to play for the West Indies team. Another impact of the retainer contract is to provide greater security for the contracted player in the event of injury. With all that being said, many supporters like myself are of the belief that no player will be in full agreement with such a contract especially the fact that they might not be selected to represent the West Indies in a particular format of the sport and not being able to ply their trade in the sport of cricket elsewhere. Gone are the days when cricket was seasonal and many players sat at home in their respective territories waiting for an upcoming tour or lucrative offer in the form of county cricket which isn’t the biggest calling card for cricketers these days, or the infamous IPL league T20 contracts among others.
Information coming from CEO, Johnny Grave, says all Windies franchise players are now contracted from the 1st of July 2018 until June 30, 2019, with their performances assessed from the 1st of April to the 31 March. It is understood that this will allow for a more efficient process of reviewing, renewing and awarding contracts within West Indies professional cricket and give everyone at least three months to plan for the season ahead. Starting each year with the Caribbean Premier League, followed by the Super 50 Cup and finish on the 4-day competition.
The biggest calling card for cricketers worldwide is that of IPL and other T20 leagues. The retainer contract seems to be the board’s way of having a tight control over its players dictating whether or not they can play and that shouldn’t be because once signed, the conditions are legally binding for that entire duration. Case in point, when Sunil Narine was heavily involved in the Indian Premier League playing for Kolkata Knight Riders, the West Indies had an upcoming home series vs New Zealand in which he was selected. During the start of his team’s semifinal match, Narine made the decision that if his team were to reach the finals of the 2014 IPL he would not be able to make the deadline. Narine was then deemed, according to Michael Muirhead, ineligible for selection for the first Test against New Zealand. Instead, he was deemed ineligible for that entire Test Series according to the very shady Richard Pybuss, then director of cricket for the West Indies Cricket Board.
Don’t get me wrong I’m not against formal contracts for our players, but players should be given some freedom to ply their trade outside of tour schedules being orchestrated by the board. In other sports, players are tied to a contract but are allowed to take up an endorsement deal which benefits them the player and also the respective sports they’re involved in which is a win-win situation for all parties involved. With West Indies Cricket/Cricket West Indies that’s not the case there are no endorsement deals negotiated for or between players and any corporate entity, so where possible, many of our players ply their trade in as much cricket playing nations as possible in order to make a livelihood playing professional cricket.
With these new contracts signed by players for the 2018 – 2019 period, I noticed that prominent players like Gayle, Pollard, Sammy, Narine, and Bravo to name a few have not been listed as persons who have been given or actually signed a retainer contract. Am I to believe that the board along with Courtney Brown, Chief Selector don’t feel as if these players need to be apart of any Cricket West Indies squad? Your guess is as good as mine, but I am hoping we are not walking down a road both parties vouched they wouldn’t go down in the future.
I am not here to hit out against CWI having or issuing retainer contracts but at the end of the day, such contracts should be beneficial to all parties involved and not one-sided. Here’s to hoping one that sooner rather than later, our board will get it right with players allowing, the best teams to represent Cricket West Indies across all formats and leaving us supporters watching and enjoying cricket, lovely cricket.
(c) Nubienqueenb76 2018