One man fighting the box of frogs

What’s the difference between the West Indies Cricket Board and a box of frogs? The box of frogs make more sense.

Ho ho ho. But on a serious note, for this is a seriously crazy cricket board, there is one man desperately fighting WICB’s inadequacies on behalf of the players: Dinanath Ramnarine, president of the West Indies Players Association (WIPA). And it is a fierce, ugly battle indeed.

Making sense of all this is somewhat of a challenge – I’ve been trying for about a year, and am only halfway there – but fortunately Vaneisa Baksh has done her best in an excellent piece Cricinfo commissioned. Do give it a read.

Ramnarine does not trust the WICB, and if one were to check the record of their dealings for the past five years or so of his tenure, it is clear why. He has had little reason to, and given his prior relationship with the board and its functionaries (remember, he retired at 28, having played in 12 Tests and taken 45 wickets with some pretty good legspin) there is nothing really to suggest there will be any improvement without fundamental changes.

But despite talk by the WICB’s outgoing president, Ken Gordon, that the recently appointed Governance Committee was the most important ever established, the board is not in a hurry to institute the changes the committee has recommended – not when one of those was that the board should give way to a more representative body.

The latest slew of exchanges between the board and WIPA revealed the nature of the tension between them. Ramnarine has charged the board with reneging on terms of their MOU, particularly with regard to including WIPA in negotiations affecting players. Gordon has accused Ramnarine of basically cussing off everyone and calling them liars.

Interesting, fragile times.

Caribbean ‘near breaking point’

For all his lording of the crease and general God-like status, Sir Viv Richards is a king of the sound-bite. But get him onto a subject he really knows and cares about and you listen.

Sadly, such is West Indies’ plight these days, only the media listen to him when really it should be the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) who ought to take notice of what he says.

“I learned a lot [from Close] and there are things the boss or individual in charge has to say. If guys in the workplace are not up to scratch, it is your job to say they are not up to scratch and suggest things they can do to improve.

“But it is coming near breaking point. The West Indies must think seriously – what is most important? Is it the people with their personal political agendas or the majority of the people who are the supporters of West Indies cricket?”

West Indies’ woes during this tour haven’t courted as much criticism as in previous years, perhaps further emphasising their struggle. Such is their plight, commentators are more concerned than they are angry; concerned that this side, one of the weakest West Indian touring parties, is beneath the required standard to compete at Test level.

There is one man who, Richards believes, shows the courage and passion – not to mention skill – required to compete: Dwayne Bravo.

“When you look and see the way Bravo enjoys his cricket, he could have been part of the 1970s and 1980s,” Richards said. “I hope he realises the job he is faced with in the future in helping us enjoy the game. West Indies cricket is all about enjoying and having fun and at the end being very successful doing it.”

The situation really is this bad. Neither the board or the players’ association (WIPA) can agree on any tour which takes place and, even if they do eventually strike a deal, it usually ends in somebody’s resignation. Furthermore, the board fail to recognise or admit their own enormous failures. It is one big buck-passing sham and, very soon, there may not even be a West Indies team. It’s that serious.

Not even Sir Viv can save them now. A win tomorrow, though still unlikely, would be the most tremendous fillip imaginable for them and I can’t help but wish (guiltily so) Shivnarine Chanderpaul is there to guide them home.