Former West Indies fast bowler and the first Antiguan to represent the senior regional team, Sir Andy Roberts, believes the body charged with representing players from the Caribbean has been more of a hindrance than a blessing in the efforts to solve issues plaguing West Indies cricket.
Sir Andy, who claimed 202 wickets in 47 Test matches and 87 wickets in 56 One Day Internationals, accused WIPA (West Indies Players Association), of babying players and making it difficult for coaches to perform their duties.
“You get some hard-nosed [strict] coaches, some of the former players and you get the board out of the way, and also you get WIPA out of the way, because some of the things that the former players would say to these current players, WIPA maybe, would object to some of the things. But these guys need to be spoken hard to because they must realise it is not a bed of roses. It is hard work, it is commitment and you have to make sacrifices in order for you to get to the top and stay at the top,” he said.
The board has come under constant pressure, more so from regional heads of government who have sought to have the board dissolved and a special committee be set up to run the affairs of regional cricket.
Sir Andy believes, however, that WIPA is just as responsible for the behaviour of some players and that coaches must be able to exert pressure on players who are not living up to expectations.
“WIPA has always been a problem, especially when [Dinanath] Ramnarine was around because you couldn’t talk too hard to the players, you couldn’t say the players were faking injuries or else they would want to take you to court. So these are some of the things that need to be done, some hard decisions must be taken in order for these players to realise that they can’t just come and mock around,” the former player said.
In 2016, the WICB and dissatisfied players found themselves at odds over the legitimacy of the WIPA role in negotiating players’ contracts.
This disagreement was highlighted in an exchange of letters between then West Indies Twenty20 captain Darren Sammy and then WICB chief executive Michael Muirhead.
WIPA’s relationship with the West Indies players had broken down considerably two years earlier during the controversial abandoned tour of India, stemming from a similar contracts dispute.