PM Gonsalves proposes ‘grand settlement’ to end cricket crisis

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent (CMC) – St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves has written to CARICOM asking the regional body to communicate to the Indian Cricket Board (BCCI) his “grand settlement” proposal, aimed at diffusing the BCCI’s US$42 million compensation claim against the West Indies Cricket Board and ending the full blown crisis.

Gonsalves told reporters in Kingstown on Monday that the “grand settlement” included five elements, the first of which was that the WICB settled the internal matter with the “India 14”.

He was referring to the West Indies cricketers who prematurely ended their tour of India last month over a pay dispute with WIPA, resulting in the US$42 million claim in losses from the BCCI.

Gonsalves has been at the centre of the resolution process, recently chairing a high-level meeting in Port of Spain which included Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell, WICB president Dave Cameron, players’ spokesman Dwayne Bravo and WIPA president and chief executive, Wavell Hinds.

“All that we agreed on at the Hyatt Hotel in Port-of-Spain on the evening of the 30th of October, I don’t have to go through the details, but settle that (players’ issue) first,” Gonsalves said.

The “grand settlement” is also calling for WIPA and the India 14 “to stop their internecine squabbling and get back on track as one entity in WIPA”.

Thirdly, Gonsalves’s proposal is calling “for firm, urgent, practical steps to be taken in the reform of the management and administrative systems of the West Indies Cricket Board.”

“The West Indies Cricket Board at the moment is functioning as if it were a private club,” Gonsalves said forcefully.

“It needs to be responsible and responsive to the community. These are issues which have been raised in the Patterson Report several years ago and that is the starting point for the reform, otherwise this thing is going to happen again.

“I’m not making any criticism here about any individual leader currently inside of the WICB. I think it is clear to everybody that the structures which exist are not appropriate for the administration and management of West Indies cricket. They have to be responsive and responsible to the community.”

Gonsalves continued: “WICB doesn’t own any cricket ground. WICB doesn’t own West Indies cricket; the people of the region own it. They (WICB) are custodians with their links to the ICC to organise cricket at the regional level and at international level. There are national associations, but the structure which exists is inadequate for these times and these circumstances.”

The fourth point of Gonsalves’s proposal is that “the WICB and the BCCI must work more closely and collaboratively in the interest of both Indian and West Indian cricket and world cricket.”

“And, of course, there are many practical things which we can do together. And once we have those, as the lawyers will say, in those premises, given those four points, the fifth point is that India, in the interest of cricket in Indian and the Caribbean and world cricket, that they simply forgo the claim in the light of what I call this grand settlement,” Gonsalves contended.

He said he had copied his letter to CARICOM’s bureau and noted that time was running out on the WICB to avoid a lawsuit.

In making its claim of compensation, the BCCI had given the WICB 15 days in which to outline how it would settle the amount.

“Time is of the essence, because on Friday of this week will be the 15th day after the letter from the BCCI to the West Indies Cricket Board making the demand.”

Cameron sent a letter to the BCCI on November 7, apologising for the players’ walk-out of the ODI tour and urging them to settle the matter through the ICC Disputes Committee.

Gonsalves acknowledged he was aware of the letter. He said, however, Cameron had requested the help of CARICOM at the recent Port of Spain meeting, in approaching the BCCI and the Indian authorities to see if the matter could be resolved.

Gonsalves, though, made it clear that he was not asking CARICOM nations to pay the US$42 million bill.

“Now, when I said that I’ll be working to help with a resolution, for some strange reason, that metamorphosed that I will take money from the treasury of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and ask other countries to do so. I explicitly said no, that is not on the cards,” Gonsalves stressed.

“But because Ralph got involved and he’s playing a leading role in this matter, that what you have to do is to tarnish his role by going to an absorb position and to sell that to the region, where some news agencies believe that I said so, when I never said so.”