Players are beginning to realise the power they wield | india | Hindustan Times
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Players are beginning to realise the power they wield

When people look at the game’s history, they will read with surprise that in July 2009 West Indies became the first major Test team to be beaten by Bangladesh. After more than eight years the latest Test entrant had finally beaten someone other than Zimbabwe, writes Anand Vasu.

india Updated: Jul 15, 2009 00:23 IST
Anand Vasu

When people look at the game’s history, they will read with surprise that in July 2009 West Indies became the first major Test team to be beaten by Bangladesh. After more than eight years the latest Test entrant had finally beaten someone other than Zimbabwe. If people dig deeper will they see that the team WI put out was hardly a major force.

When the ICC recently said they were considering a two-tier Test system, both WI players and officials should have taken notice. WI are in the bottom three, and the prospect of a year playing only Bangladesh, New Zealand and a qualifier should’ve been sobering.

This happens at a time when Caribbean cricket is vulnerable — their billionaire patron Allen Stanford is behind bars awaiting trial for fraud — and there is the drain of talent to other sports and greener pastures in nearby America. The players and the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) should have been working together to keep the game alive. For that to happen the best team needs to play, and preferably win.

These days, where it’s impossible to hire a junior employee without a contract, it’s unbelievable that WI players went four series without contracts. If anything, it's amazing they did not lay down their bats earlier. Cricketers are only just getting an idea of the kind of power they wield.

For decades it has been administrators who had all the power. Players had to take what they got, and revolt when they needed to improve their lot. The WICB, knowing that previous boycott threats never reached fruition, called what they thought was the players’ bluff.

This time Chris Gayle and his team stood their ground. In the past, with only WICB wages to fall back on, no player would have taken the chance. Now they make significant money playing T20s outside.

What's alarming is that players now know they can hold the game to ransom, even if it costs their team a Test. Jimmy Adams, secretary of the local Players Association and president of the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations, recently said: “Players aren't putting up with this crap,” and described some WICB members as people who “couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery.” If that’s a reconciliatory voice talking, boards better sit up and take notice of player power if they don't want to be caught unawares.