CWI CEO: We don't pay players a pittance

Cricket West Indies CEO Johnny Grave  -
Cricket West Indies CEO Johnny Grave -

BRIDGETOWN: Cricket West Indies chief executive Johnny Grave has dismissed the notion that players are paid a “pittance” by the board, but said the emergence of even more franchise leagues meant an increase in economic opportunities for them, while further imperilling their availability for international tours.

Speaking to former England Test captains Michael Atherton and Nasser Hussain on the Sky Sports Cricket Podcast, Grave said CWI was actively seeking “balance and compromise” with players, in order to ensure full strength sides were selected for its Future Tours Programme obligations.

Last month, West Indies were forced to select a rookie side for the ongoing two-Test tour of Australia after the established likes of all-rounders Jason Holder and Kyle Mayers, chose to “explore T20 franchise opportunities.”

“We do pay our players very, very well. I think there is a perception in the world that we pay them pittance,” Englishman Grave asserted.

“Most of our top international players, when you include and factor in Caribbean Premier League contracts, they’re probably earning half a million US dollars a year, so it’s not like they’re playing for us for free.

“But the challenges exist, and we, like all the boards, are fighting to find the balance and the compromise and at times, like we did with this (tour), we can’t compromise. It’s a World Test Championship obligation.

“We acknowledge it clashes with other lucrative leagues and we accept and respect that the players have that choice.”

Over the last decade, West Indies have faced multiple challenges with player availability, as the cash-rich Indian Premier League emerged as a lucrative option in international cricket.

To reduce the conflict, Grave said CWI had made an arrangement with its players which would see a window created to allow their availability, not only for the IPL, but for the domestic Caribbean Premier League.

However, Grave pointed out that with even more nations launching franchise leagues in recent years, it was proving difficult for CWI to create the perfect window.

“The first year that I joined (in 2017), we played Pakistan in the IPL window and obviously their players were all available, because they don’t play in the IPL,” Grave explained.

“And then we played England in the CPL window, so players had to effectively give up both earning opportunities, which was never going to be sustainable.

“So pretty obviously, we agreed very quickly with all the players that we would give them an exclusive window for the IPL and for the Caribbean Premier League, which was in our own interests to do so.

“There wasn’t a huge amount of trust back then, but it’s one of things we’ve been really focused on, in terms of never compromising that promise.

“We’ve actually gone as far as to put it into all of the players' contracts that we can’t do that, and it’s something that we’ve kept sacrosanct, and I think now we’ve just got to re-think and pivot again, because what used to be fine in terms of the balance of an IPL and CPL window (has become more complicated).”

He continued: “The earning opportunities now, particularly January and February, with four leagues going up against each other for overseas players (have increased). You’ve got the ILT20 in the UAE, you’ve got the SA20 in South Africa, you’ve got the Big Bash finishing and the Bangladesh Premier League going on. In a few weeks the Pakistan Super League will be starting.

"And they’re all leagues that offer six-figure sums for three weeks' work and four overs per game for bowlers, and the opportunity, I guess, is something that players at certain times in their careers can’t say no to."


"CWI CEO: We don’t pay players a pittance"

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