x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Troubles far from over off the field for West Indies

It is unfair to expect the world from a team still not ridden of player disputes despite the World Twenty20 title win.

West Indies must build on their recent World Twenty20 title win. Gemunu Amarasinghe / AP Photo
West Indies must build on their recent World Twenty20 title win. Gemunu Amarasinghe / AP Photo

Much has been written about the West Indies teams since their World Twenty20 triumph, with most commentators offering a nostalgic look back to the days of Clive Lloyd when the Caribbean cricketers were the kings of the crease.

A few have even gone off on a tangent, comparing a team that ruled over the game with Darren Sammy's men. Why? Why cannot the West Indies team of 2012 simply be celebrated as the champions of Twenty20 cricket without being reminded of their glorious history, without being expected to bring back those 15 years of ruthless domination between 1976 and 1991?

Why should they now be asked to make a similar surge to the top in Test cricket? Why should they be burdened with such expectations? Instead, let us just hope this win is a precursor to better things, unlike the West Indies' last triumph on the world stage.

A similar optimism had prevailed eight years ago when Brian Lara's team beat England to win the 2004 Champions Trophy. But it all went downhill from there. The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) replaced Gus Logie as the coach immediately after the win, appointing the Australian Bennett King in his place.

A couple of months later, most of the selected players refused to sign their tour contracts for a trip to Australia and it was the start of a feud between the WICB and the West Indies Players' Association (WIPA) that continues to this day.

In the ensuing months, Lara resigned as the captain over a sponsorship dispute and the West Indies were later forced to send a "makeshift" team for their Test series in Sri Lanka following a strike by the top players.

The dispute between the players and the board has continued over the years since, with the stand-off between Chris Gayle and the WICB chief executive Ernest Hilaire making headlines over the past year.

Hilaire has gone now, replaced by Michael Muirhead, an MBA in finance from the Georgia State University. Gayle is back in the team, making up for lost time. But the disputes between the WICB and the WIPA are far from over.

They will be in front of a judge later this week, for arbitration on the future of their Memorandum of Understanding and the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The two sides will be in the courts a bit later as the WIPA has slapped a US$20 million (Dh73.46 m) "restraint of trade" lawsuit against the WICB.

Hopefully, this success in Sri Lanka will convince the two sides to put aside their differences and work together to build on this triumph. This stand-off has already done enough damage.

arizvi@thenational.ae

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