West Indies players will be thrown off the squad for the World Twenty20 if they do not agree to financial terms by Sunday’s deadline, according to the head of the region’s cricket board.
The hard-line stance comes in the wake of reports that the 15-man squad, upset at a huge pay cut, has rejected the contract offered by West Indies Cricket Board.
Cricinfo on Tuesday published a letter from Darren Sammy to the WICB in which the West Indies captain said the financial terms for the World Twenty20, which starts in India on 8 March, were unacceptable.
“We want to represent the West Indies but the financials on offer we can’t accept,” Sammy wrote.
WICB chief executive Michael Muirhead did not sound in a negotiating mood, however, when he spoke on Jamaican radio. “The WICB is committed to play in the tournament, let me say that first,” Muirhead said on Hitz 92fm.
“No one will leave the shores of the West Indies without signing a contract and if these players in particular choose not to sign, then I guess we’ll be left with no option but to substitute other players for them.”
Muirhead added that the board was not in a position to improve the remuneration package, negotiated with the players association nine months ago.
“They have had lots of time to digest and argue and do everything,” he said. “Five of the players were instrumental and were there at the onset, so at this point, I’m hoping that the players will sign and take advantage of the other benefits that are there.”
He said that players would receive half of any shirt sponsorship the board negotiates in addition to a portion of prize money.
Although West Indies cricket has fallen on hard times in the test format, it remains a major player in the shortest form of the game. West Indies won the 2012 World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka and are currently ranked second in the world. This year’s squad includes dashing batsmen Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard.
Sammy, who requested an urgent meeting before Sunday’s deadline, has proposed the players participate in the World Twenty20 under the same conditions as at previous tournaments.
He said players were facing a pay cut of nearly 80% and stood to earn only $21,000 apiece this year, compared to $135,000 at the last tournament.
The latest impasse between WICB and the players comes some 18 months after the premature end of West Indies’ tour of India because of a longstanding payment dispute.