Mumbai: India may scrap their tour of West Indies in 2016 after the Caribbean team’s abrupt pullout on Friday, said an angry Indian cricket board (BCCI) which is also considering legal actions and seeking intervention of the game’s world governing body.
The tourists abandoned the series with another one-dayer, a Twenty20 international and three test matches left to play over a protracted payment dispute between the players and their board.
The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) said it had been left with no choice but to abandon the tour of India, an action that angered the world’s richest cricket body, who swiftly roped in Sri Lanka as replacements to play a five-match ODI series next month. However, BCCI will still stand to lose over $50 million in revenue due to this unprecedented cancellation of tour by WICB.
“It will be very difficult to play West Indies in bilateral series in future. They have to demonstrate the willingness that such situations never happen again,” BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel told on Saturday.
“I would say that India’s next tour of West Indies is highly unlikely to go ahead in the current situation.” The Indian cricket team is scheduled to tour the Caribbean for three tests, five ODIs and a Twenty20 match early in 2016.
“Whatever the dispute, they should have honoured the bilateral agreement,” Patel said. “We thank our friends Sri Lanka who agreed to the tour on a short notice but unfortunately we couldn’t fit in the tests as there was not enough time.”
The BCCI was considering legal actions against WICB and has called an emergent working committee meeting on Tuesday to discuss the issue, Patel said. “We have suffered huge losses and the ICC is our parent body and we are going to ask them to ensure that this never happens in the future,” Patel added.
Confusion reigned on Friday as the WICB issued a statement denying it had withdrawn the team after the BCCI announced that the visitors would fly home after Friday’s one-dayer in Dharamsala.
The West Indies board later apologised to its Indian counterpart as well as sponsors, broadcasters and fans in a statement. It said it had offered to provide a replacement team but India had declined that offer.
The WICB said it had spoken to team management and been informed that “the players have taken a decision to withdraw their services for the remainder of the tour of India.” The WICB and West Indies Players’ Association signed a new agreement last month covering pay and conditions but it was rejected by the senior players, including one-day captain Dwayne Bravo, who said they were kept in the dark.
Earlier, the drama unfolded as the panic gripped the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) at 7 in the morning of the match when the West Indies team management conveyed its decision not to “play” the ODI in Dharmasala. The local officials feared the West Indians may have had issues with their hospitality.
For BCCI joint-secretary Anurag Thakur, also the president of the HPCA, it was an unprecedented situation of a team refusing to play. “I could not believe when I was told the match was not on. I was aware of the dispute the West Indian players were having with their board (WICB) but why were we being punished for no fault of ours,” said Thakur.
The HPCA president rushed to the players’ hotel with a team of officials and pleaded with the West Indians to relent.
“We have made up our mind. No further discussion on this matter,” Thakur was told two hours before the match was to commence.
Stung by the West Indians’ response, Thakur retorted, “In that case, I am not your host, you are not my guests. Kindly make your own arrangements to fly back. If the match is cancelled, I am not sure if you can get a flight to go to Delhi.” He then left the hotel. And 10 minutes later came the West Indies team management’s decision to rescind its decision.
Thakur expected the Board to take a strict view of the West Indies’ “let down” of cricket ethics. “The BCCI should sue the WICB for losses and also review the relations between the two boards.
The WICB is to hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday to “conduct a thorough assessment of all the ramifications of the premature end to the tour” and decide what action if any should be taken.