Stunning the BCCI and millions of cricket fans, the West Indies team have decided to call off their ongoing tour of India and head home after the fourth ODI played at Dharamsala on Friday, following an ongoing contract dispute between the players and their board.
The West Indians were originally scheduled to play five ODIs, a T20 and three Tests during the 48-day tour ending November 19. The BCCI has now roped in Sri Lanka to fill the void with a five-ODI bilateral series from November 1 to 15.
While the BCCI made its displeasure clear by warning the West Indies Cricket Board that the pullout would damage “long-standing ties”, the WICB responded by issuing a press release that said, “The West Indies Cricket Board advises, that, contrary to media reports, it has taken no decision to discontinue the ongoing tour to India.”
But according to BCCI officials, the West Indian players were not even prepared to take the field for the fourth ODI. They finally agreed to do so only last night after they were warned by Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) president Anurag Thakur that a last-minute pullout could lead to crowd trouble.
“They were told that Dharamsala is a small town, and there could be a law-and-order crisis if there was no match. In addition, there were no flights out of here till the day after; since the West Indians were already here, it made sense for them to play the ODI,” said a BCCI official.
The visitors had been locked in a tussle with their board ever since they landed in India, over the issue of revenue sharing, but the situation worsened after the players fell out with their official representative back home, Wavell Hinds, a former player who went on to sign the contract on their behalf.
On Thursday night, the players tried to have negotiate directly with officials, but the WICB refused to interact with them, insisting that they would deal only with the West Indies Players’ Association (WIPA) represented by Hinds.
The BCCI, meanwhile, expressed shock at the pullout. It warned in a press release, “The WICB’s inability to resolve internal issues with its players and allowing the same to affect an ongoing bilateral series does not reflect well on any of those involved. The withdrawal gives little thought to the future of the game, the players and the long standing relations between the BCCI and the WICB.”