Saturday, 1 November 2014

BCCI demands $42m in damages from WICB

Calling West Indies' pull-out midway into the India tour a "monumental disaster", the BCCI has slapped a US$41.97m damages claim on the WICB. The BCCI also suspended bilateral relations with the WICB till the dispute was resolved, and threatened legal action if the West Indies board didn't respond within 15 days.

Scheduled to play five ODIs, a Twenty20 and three Tests, the West Indies players pulled out of the series after the fourth ODI in Dharamsala on October 17. They cited the failure of West Indies Players' Association (WIPA) and WICB to respond convincingly to their questions related to the memorandum of understanding and collective bargaining agreement signed by the two parties in September.

In a a stern four-page letter addressed to WICB president Dave Cameron, a copy of which is in possession of ESPNcricinfo, BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel on Friday indicated that if the WICB failed to respond within 15 days about how it intended to compensate the losses in "acceptable terms", the BCCI would initiate legal proceedings. "Pending resolutions of all disputes the BCCI suspends all bilateral cricketing relations with the WICB," Patel's letter stated.

Patel's missive arrived even as Cameron and senior WICB officials were engaged in meetings with players and WIPA in Trinidad to resolve the dispute. The meeting was facilitated by Prime Minister of St Vincent, Ralph Gonsalves, who helped resolve the dispute between Chris Gayle and the WICB three years ago.

As soon as Dwayne Bravo, the West Indies ODI captain, said that the players would be forced to take extreme steps unless they got clear answers from WIPA and WICB regarding the new MoU/CBE, Patel said the BCCI understood the seriousness of the issue and attempted to avert the debacle.

Patel pointed out that Bravo and his team-mates continued to play till the fourth ODI only because of the intervention by him and the other senior BCCI officials.

Patel stressed that the consequences of the West Indies pullout were "multi-fold and crippling" to the Indian board. "The BCCI is faced with huge revenue losses, a loss of reputation and is at risk of losing valuable commercial partners," Patel wrote. "The consequences of cancellation of a committed home Tour during the biggest festival season Diwali in India is a monumental disaster for the BCCI. It is during this season that our partners derive the most value from their rights.

"Our broadcaster had committed to its advertisers during this season and on account of your actions, is facing a severe crisis the effects of which are felt by the BCCI. The BCCI holds the WICB responsible and liable for all such consequences and intends to enforce its rights to seek compensation from the WICB to the fullest extent permissible in law."

Patel demanded a written assurance from the WICB explaining how it intended to pay damages claimed by BCCI and warned a failure would mean further sanctions. "In the event the BCCI does not receive such a proposal in acceptable terms, within a period of 15 days from receipt of this letter, please note that the BCCI has peremptorily instructed its attorneys to initiate steps for recovery of the losses by filing appropriate legal proceedings against the WICB in the appropriate Indian Court and you may treat this notice as a formal demand in that regard."

Although SLC has helped fill in the breach caused by West Indies' withdrawal by agreeing to play a five-ODI series, Patel said it was not enough to "offset the loss" incurred. "This is because the Sri Lanka Cricket Board has not committed to any additional tour of India but has only advanced its 2015 Tour to 2014. In return, the BCCI has agreed to tour Sri Lanka in 2015 whereby it has permanently and irretrievably lost a valuable home tour."

Patel slammed the WICB for cancelling the tour "in complete disregard of your legal commitments" despite knowing the damages it would cause. "The adverse financial ramifications and the negative impact of your action to unilaterally cancel the remainder of the Tour was well within your understanding, yet you still went ahead and cancelled the Tour in complete disregard of your legal commitments.

"The WICB is also aware that each National Board is committed to touring each other in a given period such that the schedule of tours between each of the Boards is fixed 8 years in advance. Such touring obligations are on a reciprocal basis so as to reflect not only fairness in ranking but also equal opportunity to each Board. As such, given the limited windows of opportunity and the long-term schedule of tours as between the National Cricket Boards, rescheduling of Tours within the 8-year period becomes impossible."