A MISUNDERSTANDING. Simple. That's what caused all the problems between the West Indies players and their board. Or so the two parties would have everybody believe. The irony in issuing such a statement is that it comes after the media has dissected the issue raw and everyone who is even remotely interested knows what it is all about.
The board has been left with egg -- lots of it -- on its face. Not only did Brian Lara and Carl Hooper get everything they had held out for, they also left the board president Pat Rousseau to explain the whole deal to the press. Courtney Walsh leaked word to the Caribbean News Agency about the reinstatement of Lara and Hooper and left it at that. Rousseau had to explain his own climbdown by himself. The humiliation was complete.
If the board had no cards in its hand, then it should not have acted in such a ham-handed manner. Cricket is the most emotive issue in the Caribbean and everybody knows that. Were there reserve players to make up a second eleven if the board wanted to make good on its threat to select an alternative squad? The answer is a resounding no. Lara and Hooper called the board's bluff -- it was just that, no more.
But, mark my words, this entire epsiode will do the game no good. It will lead to a growth of player power which can be just as damaging to the game as the autocratic behaviour exhibited by some boards around the world. It will also lead to a culture of blackmail; had the episode happened earlier, the board may well have had more cards to play. By staging the boycott on the eve of the tour, Lara and Hooper had the element of time in their hands.
But had the seven players already in South Africa not decided to back the others, things may well have been different. This may have been what the board was hoping for. As a sideshow, it must be noted that Ali Bacher, who said the sacking of Lara and Hooper by the board showed that no individual was greater than the game, ultimately played a big role in getting the whole mess sorted out. Strange how he suddenly changed his stance on the sackings!
After all this grandstanding, the West Indies are now under tremendous pressure to win the series in South Africa. Prima donnas must perform as such. Else, they might as well turn around and go home right now.