By: Nagraj Gollapudi (ESPNcricinfo)
Adding a new twist to West Indies’ pullout from their India tour, Dwayne Bravo, their ODI captain, has said he is “shocked” at statements by team-mate Marlon Samuels, who indicated earlier this week that he had not wanted to quit during the series.
In an interview to a Caribbean radio station, Samuels said that since he is not accredited with the West Indies Players Association, he wanted to focus on finishing the India tour before raising any objections concerning the collective bargaining agreement and memorandum of understanding signed between the WIPA and the WICB.
Samuels told Power 104 FM that his priority was West Indies cricket. “Wavell Hinds (the WIPA president) cannot negotiate on behalf of me so I know that once I continued (to play), I just needed to finish this tour and then I would have asked questions,” Samuels said. “The main thing first was West Indies cricket; that is why I remained focused throughout everything.”
Samuels was the highest run-getter in the abandoned series with 254 runs, including two centuries in the three possible ODIs. According to Samuels, he was present only during two of the eight player meetings Bravo headed on the tour. “For most of those meetings, I was probably in my room ordering room service. I don’t go to those meetings,” Samuels said. “A lot of meetings were kept but I have no time for those meetings. My focus was just on playing some cricket.”
However, Bravo countered Samuels, saying the Jamaican was an “interested party” and spoke “vigorously” during the meetings he attended. “I note the comments attributed to Mr. Marlon Samuels from media reports and wish to state that Mr. Samuels was invited to and did attend the majority of meetings with the players on tour,” Bravo said in a media statement issued on Friday. “We extended an invitation to Mr. Marlon Samuels with the full knowledge that he is not a member of WIPA but was an interested party. Mr. Samuels contributed vigorously to the discussions held and indicated clearly, at that time, that he would stand with any decision taken by the team. I am therefore shocked to see the statements, if true, that have been attributed to Mr. Samuels.”
According to Bravo, the decision to quit the tour was taken “in concert with all members of the squad” and not solely by him. “I wish to state for the record that all correspondence sent and decisions taken were with the full agreement and consent of the players on tour including the current Test captain Mr. Denesh Ramdin and the T20 captain Mr. Darren Sammy. It was agreed that someone needed to correspond with WIPA after we were presented with the match/tour contract in India when it became evident that the terms and conditions were very different from what we were accustomed to and expected. The team members met and I, as captain, was nominated and accepted the responsibility to correspond on behalf of the players on tour and I will continue to do so as designated.”
Bravo said that the players, barring Samuels, have decided to pursue the issue through legal help going forward. “We do not wish to make any further statements on this matter since the players on tour (except Mr. Samuels) with some additional players who did not tour India have appointed counsel to represent them in this matter.”
The deadlock between the players, the WIPA and the WICB has resulted in fears being privately expressed by other Full Members, who are not afraid to work out alternatives to West Indies if Bravo and co. fail to resolve the issue. However, Bravo expressed optimism when he said: “We look forward to a speedy resolution and that our concerns, and that of all players including the first-class players, are addressed in a satisfactory and timely manner.”
According to Bravo, though the WIPA had laid out a new payment structure for the international players during its annual general meeting on February 1, it has not shared the new agreement, which was signed with the WICB in September, with the players. Having failed to get a convincing response from Hinds, Bravo and his team-mates approached the WICB to communicate with them directly. However, Dave Cameron, the WICB president, said he would only communicate with the players through the WIPA under the rules of the MoU. Infuriated at the WICB stance, Bravo and the rest of the West Indies squad quit the India tour after the fourth ODI, drawing the ire of the BCCI and the cricketing fraternity at large.