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Caught between two giants and can’t let go!

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There is absolutely no doubt in the minds of the majority of West Indian cricket fans that we are at one of our weakest points ever as a team, both as a one day and a test side. In recent times West Indian cricket fans have not only grown accustomed to very short innings from its players, weaker strokes and more drop catches, but must further burden their spirits and ears to find out what really went on between the two rivaling telecommunication giants (Cable & Wireless and Digicel) who attempted to secure sponsorship rights for what appears to be a dwindling aspect of our West Indian culture.{{more}}

It is always a struggle when we attempt to fight a battle on two fronts. In the case of West Indies cricket the struggles on the field became more difficult to address when the fights off the pitch began. As a result of such controversy off the field between the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and Cable and Wireless, which resulted in further confrontation between the players and the Board, it appears that West Indies cricket may have suffered what may be considered a fatal blow. Was it one of the last nails being driven into its coffin? The sponsorship dispute has resulted in a split of the players right down the centre. How much worse can an already weak team get?

The issue aroused a high degree of contention and speculation, and as a result, a 50,000 word document was prepared by Justice Anthony Lucky which is now known as the Lucky Report.



Why the Lucky Report?



The issue as it relates to who was to receive the sponsorship rights for the West Indies Cricket team became contentious when it appeared that Cable and Wireless may not have obtained a fair deal in bidding for such rights. Hence a committee was set up to determine whether the negotiations were conducted in good faith, incorporating the principles of fairness, transparency and full disclosure in accordance with accepted business practice.



Negotiation breaks down



The first issue which triggered an avalanche of problems was the failure of both the WICB and Cable and Wireless to commence negotiations within the contracted period which was to be some fifteen (15) months prior to the expiry of the previous contract (old contract) between the two parties. The reason given for the failure to honour the date set out in the contract was that neither party was able to assemble their full negotiating and advisory teams, since a home series was being played at the time. While this explanation may sound justifiable, it however shows the many detriments which can follow in circumstances where strict adherence is not given to the honoring of contractual dates and deadlines.



In order to fully appreciate the fiasco which the whole affair turned out to be, very careful attention must be given to the following dates:



September 17th 2003 – Cable & Wireless agrees to the terms for the new contract.

October 20th – A draft of the new contract is submitted to the WICB.

December 4th – CEO of the WICB informs the WICB President that Cable & Wireless had materially altered the terms and conditions agreed on September 17, 2003, and that such amounted to a breach.

December 5th – Clause 14.2 of the contract was enforced allowing the WICB to seek new sponsorship.



The slippery slope



It was from December 5, 2003, that relations between Cable & Wireless and the WICB became manifestly strained. Cable & Wireless was now exposed to a rivalry of a highly competitive nature in any of its attempts to secure the bid for sponsorship of the West Indies Cricket team. It was now a question of who do we choose, Cable & Wireless or Digicel?

Now that we have a basic idea of what triggered the whole ordeal, where does the future of West Indies cricket stand today? What can we do to improve the poor quality of cricket which West Indian fans have grown accustomed to?

Cricket is an important part of our culture, and while at the end of it all the two telecommunication giants whose future are dependant on market forces may choose to close- up shop for varying reasons, we as a West Indian people must demand far better representation from the WICB for a game which is so dear to us. So let’s get on with the game, we have a team to build.

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