“It hurts, man, it hurts.” Darren Sammy’s eyes say it all when he is asked about the ultimate demise of West Indies cricket. The Caribbean team hit rock bottom in the ongoing T20 World Championship, as the two-time champions (2012 and 2016) failed to even qualify for the Super 12. As a two-time T20 World Cup captain, Sammy is frustrated and angry. But at the same time, he is pragmatic enough to understand the practical difficulties, including the lack of financial security that Cricket West Indies (CWI) offers.
Sammy is well aware that unlike BCCI, the West Indies Board can never prevent its players from choosing franchise leagues rather than play for the various island nations. “India is strong because they can tell their players that they don’t play anywhere else. They have to understand that they have the money to support it,” Sammy said of West Indies cricket in an exclusive interview with PTI.
“A signed India A-list player could probably earn $1 million a year (Rs 7 crore plus gaming fees plus TV rights money) compared to a Windies A-lister who would earn $150,000 (Rs 1.2 million rupees approximately).
“It’s a big difference and of course there will always be the issue of pay (inequality). It is very difficult for smaller boards (in terms of financial power) to keep their players together when they are paid well elsewhere,” Sammy said, bluntly, you hit the nail on the head.
The peak period of an athlete is short and it is no longer an amateur sport where passion was the greatest ration for men in flannel.
“The days of playing for love are over. Love doesn’t buy you groceries at the supermarket,” Sammy said bluntly.
He thinks CWI can learn a thing or two from how New Zealand Cricket handled this dilemma.
“So it’s a difficult time. I think NZC is doing quite well (no international cricket planned during IPL). If NZC can do that, communication is key. It’s up to the players and the board to get a system that works.” Commitment to a professional relationship requires certain sacrifices.
“When you say you are committed to me (player on board or vice versa), then a certain level of sacrifice has to be made. You can’t commit to me if nothing else is available to you.”