To sign or not?
NATION Associate Editor (Sports) Haydn Gill gives his take on this subject: Were Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard obligated to accept retainer contracts from the West Indies Cricket Board?
THE NEWS that Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard turned down one-year retainer contracts from the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) must have raised more than a few eyebrows.
If some want to make an issue of it, that is their choice.
Bravo and Pollard, two players who have attracted interest from clubs in India, Australia and England, also had a choice to make, and no one should feel their decision shows a lack of commitment to West Indies’ cricket.
It merely reflects the changing face of the game.
In years gone by, it was a given that once a player was offered a retainer contract, an imminent signature was guaranteed.
It provided a player with a sense of security – steady income for a year even if he was not actually in the West Indies team.
The only thing the player had to commit to was making himself available for selection at all times. The contracts were principally intended to ensure that WICB had the top players at its disposal.
Cast your mind back to the mid 1990s when former Barbados fast bowler Vasbert Drakes, a player who could not be guaranteed selection in the West Indies team, opted to ply his trade professionally in South Africa and England. Had retainer contracts been available at the time, Drakes’ choice might have been different.
The difference between then and now is significant. The Twenty20 leagues across the globe are now offering mind-boggling sums of money that the boards from the Test playing countries cannot compete with.
A retainer contract in the 1990s would have matched a player’s earnings with his overseas deals. In such circumstances, it was obvious country would come before club.
A retainer contract from the WICB these days is worth US$80 000 – a tiny sum when compared to the US$750 000 the Mumbai Indians paid to secure Pollard’s services last year.
By turning down the retainer contracts, Bravo and Pollard are merely keeping their options open. One should not get the impression they are turning their backs on West Indies cricket. I have no doubt they will make themselves available for selection.
And let’s not forget that the WICB has made it clear that a retainer contract is not a prerequisite for being selected to represent the West Indies.
It has been suggested in some quarters that if Bravo can’t commit to a retainer contract, he shouldn’t expect to be considered for West Indies captaincy.
It is a view that I cannot endorse. Bravo has not been in breach of any rule and has not been guilty of failing to honour any obligation.
By not accepting the retainers, Bravo and Pollard should also be aware they are taking a risk. As quickly as they were snapped up by Mumbai Indians, South Australia, Somerset and Essex, they can be shoved aside in the same manner as Daren Powell was recently, when Lancashire gave him the push because of non-performance.
• Haydn Gill is the NATION’S Associate Editor (Sports) and can be reached at [email protected]