Former West Indies allrounder Dwayne Bravo, who announced his retirement from all formats of international cricket in October, opened up on the 2014 India tour debacle, in an exclusive interview to i955fm. On October 17, 2014, in the middle of the 4th ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala, the West Indies Cricket Board (now Cricket West Indies) decided to call off the remainder of the tour. The cricketing board told the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) that it was left with no choice after a contracts fallout with the players.
Bravo, in the interview, talked about the events that transpired before the announcement. “Collectively as a team, we decided what to do. I listened to every single player. Apart from one player, everyone signed on a piece of paper, that they were all in support of leaving the tour. But we did not just decide to walk away from the tour. There were different times when we tried to reach out to both our WIPA president [Wavell Hinds] and the cricket president [Dave Cameron, Cricket West Indies president]. So we threatened [to pull out] from the first game, but we played. We threatened for the second game, but we played. The [fourth] game we went out (the whole team accompanied Bravo to the toss), so it was just a message and a signal, trying to let them know that we are not happy with whatever is going on,” the 35-year-old said.
The allrounder, who plays for Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in IPL, further recalled how a message at 3 am in the morning from the then BCCI chairman N Srinivasan prompted him to ask the players to play the first ODI. “I remember fully well before we said we weren’t going to play the first game, 3 am in the morning, I get a message from the BCCI boss, the old one, Mr [N] Srinivasan, that “please take the field.” I listened to him – and woke up at 6 am to tell the team that we have to play. And everyone was against playing. Everyone thought that I panicked and chickened out and all these things,” he said.
“But I was more concerned about the players’ future more than anything else, because it was a serious decision to not play and walk away from the tour. All of us could have been banned for life. So by taking the opportunity and listening to the bosses of BCCI, that was one way to ensure that we are protected,” he added.
Bravo further added that the members of the WIPA did not travel to India to discuss the issue with the players. “We played the first game, we beat India, then we traveled to Delhi. At that time the president [Cameron] was in Dubai, which is few hours away from Delhi. He said he is still not going to come and meet us,” he said. “They [Hinds and Cameron] were scheduled to come, I think, two weeks after the ODI series, by when most of us would have left. Only the Test team would be there. We play the second game, we lose, then the third game rained out, so we stayed in Delhi for an extra week. Again the president [Cameron] refused to come. Then we went to Dharamsala, up in the hills, that’s where we play the last game,” he added.
The right-hand batsman further recalled that the board had discussed about a salary cut with the players in January, but the board directly deducted 75 per cent of player’s salary without prior notice, 8 months later.
“For people to really understand that one of the reasons we even had that fallout between players and the board as far as the contracts is concerned, in January of 2014 we had a WIPA general meeting. The WIPA president Mr Hinds said that we have a proposal – we want to implement a professional league system and in order for that to take place, they asked the West Indies men’s senior team to take a salary cut. So, the senior players who were in the meeting – myself, [Ramnaresh] Sarwan, [Shivnarine] Chanderpaul – we all agree. We said okay, yes we can take a salary cut, let’s discuss figures. The president [Hinds] said that there are no figures yet. They wanted to know whether or not the players would be willing to take a salary cut and when at the end of that meeting our answer was yes, we can take a salary cut, let us know the percentage,” he said.
“The next time we hear from WIPA, or see anything about our contract or new figures, was in October, when the team was already in India. When the team arrived in India – I was already there playing Champions League for Chennai Super Kings – couple of the players message me, “skipper, did you see the new contract?” I said, no. When you look at it, you see, straight across the board, the players’ salary was cut by 75 percent. That’s where it really, really happened, where everything break down. I straightaway get on to Wavell Hinds. He says, “Bravo, tell the players do not sign the contract, it’s not still cast in stone, do not sign the contract”,” he added.
Bravo further talked about WIPA President Hinds remained unclear when the players confronted him on deducting a major portion of the salary without prior notice.
“We said to him “who gave you the rights to negotiate our new contracts without discussing it with any player?” He said he talk to some players. We said, “who you talk to?” He said he talk to Denesh Ramdin and Darren Bravo. Darren Bravo and Denesh Ramdin both stand up and say, “Wavell, that’s a lie. That never took place.” Wavell Hinds had nothing to say. Then, his next excuse was he sent the information to Samuel Badree months ago and it was Samuel Badree’s responsibility to relay the message to the players. Samuel Badree said to him, in his face, “Wavell Hinds I am a cricketer. It is your job [and] that’s why we elect you as president.” You can’t send a player who is on tour, playing cricket, a 90-page contract, saying to go through it [and] relay the message to the players. That’s where it all break down, where it all went wrong,” he said.
Bravo stressed that his one regret about the entire episode is that he did not record the conversations. “The only thing I would do differently is tape everyone. Record everyone who was in there. I’m the only player that really paid for what happened in India. The only one who never get the opportunity to play one-day cricket again. I made a stand, as the captain, as the leader of the team, for the best interest of my players, and by extension the players who have come and played for West Indies cricket. At the end of the day, it wasn’t fair on our bosses to send us on tour and cut the guys’ contract by 75 percent. It was just really unfair,” he said.
He further added that the BCCI was very supportive of Windies players, because of which some of the players are still able to play cricket. “Yeah, they (the BCCI) understood, of course. Because they were very supportive of all of us. Actually they even offered to pay us whatever we were losing. We was like, “we don’t want you to pay us. We need our board to sort out our contracts.” The BCCI was very, very supportive and that is one of the reasons why most of us were still able to continue playing without any serious, serious problems taking place,” he said.
Dwayne Bravo was the captain of the West Indies side that tour India in 2014. The 4th ODI between the two teams was the final time he represented his country in the 50-overs format.