PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) – West Indies Twenty20 captain Darren Sammy has assured the region his squad will not boycott the upcoming T20 World Cup in India next month.
Fears the 15-man squad would opt out of the March 8 to April 3 tournament were heightened over the past week when it emerged that yet another contract dispute with the West Indies Cricket Board was simmering.
Writing on the players’ behalf, Sammy told the WICB that the new contracts pay structure was unacceptable, arguing it represented between a 50 and 80 per cent reduction in earnings.
“We want to propose that we participate in the T20 World Cup 2016 under the same conditions that we have represented the West Indies in previous tournaments,” said Sammy.
However, in an interview with a radio station here Thursday, he said the squad had never considered skipping the event and were committed to play even though their concerns were yet to be resolved.
“I would like to let it be known that not at any given time did the West Indies team think about not going to the Cricket World Cup,” Sammy said categorically.
“We’ve all made it clear that we were going to play the World Cup. At the end of the day we are professionals, we are paid to play cricket. It is our job. It is our life. We just had some issues, some questions we wanted to ask and we asked them and we’ve just not got a response.
“But we want to assure the Caribbean that playing the World Cup has been at the forefront of all the players’ minds and we will do whatever we can in our power to go out there and win the World Cup for the Caribbean people.”
Players complained that under the new pay structure, their guaranteed income for the upcoming World Cup stood at a mere US$27,600.
In the past, the lowest paid player was guaranteed nearly $60,000, with the highest paid player raking in $137,000.
The WICB hit back by outlining the new ICC pay system which now sees funds to ICC members disbursed over an eight-year period instead of for specific tournaments.
Further, the board pointed out that it had, along with players’ union WIPA, the International Cricketers Association (FICA) and a representative from the International Cricket Council (ICC), engaged in mediation last year to hammer out the new agreement for players – which was then communicated to them.
Sammy said even though players would go ahead with the tour, serious concerns remained over the agreement and noted the WICB and the players needed to continue communication on the matter.
“The issues we raised, the questions we asked, when we come out of the cricket, the younger players will get experience and come out and ask the same set of questions, so you need to find a common ground where both parties are happy or we need to find a way to communicate better,” the all-rounder advised.
“We must put our egos aside. At the end of the day, the board cannot do without the players and the players need our cricket board in order for things to function.”
He continued: “The cricket will always go on. At no given time under my watch were we not going to play the World Cup but we had some issues we wanted to raise and find answers to and which we still have not found the answer, but we as a group we are going to play the World Cup and try our best and win the World Cup.”
Sammy said that for many of the seasoned players on the squad, the T20 World Cup could prove to be their final ICC event and this was extra motivation to lift the title.
“It’s the format that we’re best at. We cannot ignore that. I believe the squad that has been picked is very capable of going to India and winning the World Cup,” he said.
“We all will be coming from playing cricket … we will have a lot of cricket matches under our belt and I can’t wait for the opportunity to strategise with coach Phil Simmons in order to plan the way we’re going to win the World Cup.”
He added: “I know we’re painted … to be a certain type of cricketer but this could be the end of an era where Dwayne Bravo, Darren Sammy from Under-15 and Under-19 [level] in West Indies team, this could be the last ICC event that most of these players could be playing so we all are motivated.
“I know from speaking to the guys we will give it our best shot and hopefully we can repeat what we did in Sri Lanka [in 2012] in India.”