The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and the regional players’ body are batting on the same pitch, while concentrating on professionalism and meritocracy in an effort to bring back glory for the regional team on the field of play.
Both WICB president Dave Cameron and Wavell Hinds, the president and chief executive officer of the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) called it a “watershed” after jointly signing a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at the Accra Hotel yesterday.
It ended a two-year spell during which the two parties had operated without any document in place and marked the first time that a new CBA/MOU was devised since 2003.
“This is a watershed moment for West Indies cricket as we are setting up our franchise and professional system to ensure that West Indies cricket can go back to its rightful place,” Cameron said in the presence of a number of presidents and representatives from the six territorial boards.
“West Indies’ cricket is not about the administrators, it is really about the players,” Cameron said while noting that it was instructive how the WICB and WIPA had operated in over the past two years in a climate without an agreement in place, paving the way for very fruitful negotiations with the new CBA/MOU.
“I am very happy that we have been able to negotiate over the last couple of months when it was very difficult but we have come to the point where we believe we have the making of a very good agreement that will ensure that we can take West Indies cricket to the top,” he said.
Hinds, a former West Indies opening batsman who took over from Dinanath Ramnarine as WIPA chief executive officer in 2012, said the players body had to make a number of sacrifices, reasoning that they got about 80 per cent of their wishes.
“We know that for the long haul and legacy of West Indies cricket and where we came from as a region, fetching balls from cane fields to the point where we had 20 years of glory, led by Clive Lloyd and company, that to get back to those years, we needed to make sacrifices as players and we need to make sure that we are prepared as players and not learning on the job,” Hinds stressed.
“It is a great occasion for West Indies cricket. It is not a perfect document. Of course, it is still a work in progress so there will be trials and errors and we are all prepared for that as that’s the nature of life and business.
He said the new agreement looks at West Indies cricket as a whole where the focus has shifted from the international group, where normally 20 or 25 players were given three different types of contracts, to a “pay as you play” system based on meritocracry.
“I think it is spread out nicely. . . . This document covers everyone in full. It is important that we put the different categories in place from the start to the professional level. There is a pay as you play or a minimum salary, retainer contracts up to the
‘A’ level that the WICB affords the international cricketers,” he said.
“But we think that it must be a meritocracy basis and that you have to earn your keep to get into the different categories. As the players association, once that was understood from the membership – and of course, we highlighted the fact that it is replicated and practised around the world – the players brought into it and the WICB had a similar vision so it was easy to come to an agreement,” he said.
Hinds further explained that initially under the old structure, the majority of the revenue from the WICB went to the international players.
“As it is now, we have decided as a body that we will take a chunk of that amount from the international pool and spread it across the regional group into the player pool on a meritocracy basis,” Hinds said.
“Once you matriculate into the West Indies senior team, of course you will be getting a greater salary. . . . It affords us to give guys the opportunity to form a career out of cricket so that they can walk into the banks and get a mortgage for homes and to develop themselves and their families while they are playing instead of waiting until they are finished playing.”
Cameron said it was important to have the agreement in place and stressed that everything was done in partnerships.
“The agreement speaks to a percentage of the revenue that goes to the players; it speaks to how that gets distributed between the international and regional players. The agreement is if we do better as an organisation, the players do better and that is the theme right through the agreement.
“We are not only now dealing with the WICB as a corporate body but we are dealing with all the six franchises and territorial boards across the region so we need to have at least an agreement that speaks to how we will be operating,” Cameron concluded.