Wednesday 22th August, 2007

 

Dinanath Ramnarine

- thorn in WICB’s flesh

 
 
 
 
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By Yvonne Teelucksingh

As President of the West Indies Players’ Association (WIPA) Dinanath Ramnarine has -over the past year anyway – been engaged in an ongoing fight with the West Indies cricket Board (WICB) as he champions the rights of the players he represents.

One of the first initiatives of new WICB President, Julian Hunte was his stated intention to address the “credibility of the Board” and also to appoint Ramnarine to one of the four non-executive director positions which Ramnarine has accepted “with pride and humility.”

On the face of this, it would appear to the non-partisan observer that someone has either made a tactical move or finally admitted that the WIPA through its President deserves to be treated with a bit more courtesy than hitherto, and to form part of the process to rehabilitate West Indies cricket.

As the new President has rightly pointed out, the players are part of the problem and should be part of the process of its resolution.

WIPA has formed in 1973 during the WI tour of England with captain Rohan Kanhai as President and Deryck Murray, Secretary and was incorporated on March 19, 2003 under the 1995 Companies Act of T & T (Sections 9 and 309) but has been most vibrant under Ramnarine’s leadership.

According to Ramnarine, “WIPA is the authorized representative and collective voice of all West Indian cricketers, past and present … and “the exclusive bargaining agent for Players who have been selected for their Territorial teams and the West Indies Cricket Team, including those on Retainer Contracts and on the Under-19 teams.”

In February 2002 – almost four years exactly from his Test cricket debut

in the WI v England Test at Georgetown towards the end of February, 1998,

Ramnarine played in his last Test match between Pakistan and WI at Sharjah where an on-field disagreement with captain, Carl Hooper appears to many to have been part of a plot to subtly remove him from Test cricket.

His ODI debut had taken place the previous year (1997) when the WI played Sri Lanka in Port of Spain.

In the end, thwarted on every side and greatly disgusted by the “them and us” syndrome that has been the hallmark of WI cricket from day one - and one which has now seen the team take on the appearance of a comic opera rather than the cohesive professional entity that thrice enabled them to lift the ICC World Cup – Ramnarine quit in frustration to pursue a full-time role as WIPA President.

It is interesting to note that Deryck Murray, one of WIPA’s founding members has stated that “convincing the WI Board that we had the best interests of West Indies cricket at heart has always been a difficult battle” and that “we were aware that, as far as the Board was concerned, the Association would not be a welcome innovation.”

It is also interesting that he “was warned that I was putting my West Indies cricket at risk as I would be ‘targeted’ by the Board and ‘dropped’ at the first opportunity.”

Ramnarine appears to have taken in front.

Dinanath Ramnarine was born on June 4, 1975 at Charlieville where he attended the Charlieville Presbyterian Primary School before moving on to the prestigious Presentation College in Chaguanas. His father had died when he was very young and as a result, life had become more challenging for the family so that from early o’clock, Ramnarine has been used to dealing with challenges. A

Having graduated from ‘Pres’, Ramnarine worked with Industrial Gases Limited (IGL) and then with Petrotrin. Curiously enough, this young man who has been described by some of his detractors as “abrasive”,“obnoxious” and “a street fighter with the vocabulary of a stevedore” – among other less complimetary adjectives - spent his time at Petrotrin in their Public Relations department…

For Ramnarine, like thousands of young boys across the Caribbean, cricket was an outlet from the slings and arrows of day-to-day life in a small country village. In any event, cricket appears to have always been his great love and having played for his school, Ramnarine also went on to play for Azad Abasali’s Alescon Comets.

Described by his admirers as a “self-made man”, Ramnarine appears unafraid of a challenge and certainly, is not prepared to take what he sees as insulting and injurious behaviour lying down.

In the ongoing impasse between his association and the WICB, it is clear to the unbiased onlooker that in his tussles with the latter, “il a raison.”

What appears to stick in the collective throats of the WICB is a perceived lack of finesse and diplomacy on his part.

Indeed, when challenged, local cricketing sahibs were quick to agree that while Ramnarine’s cause had merit, it was “his manner that left ‘a lot’ to be desired.” In fact, one wit brought some measure of levity to the entire unfortunate business when he stated, “Is more than ‘a lot’, girl – a lot is only 5000 square feet!!

Ramnarine, however, is adamant that his abrasive, confrontational manner is the only one that the WICB appear to understand and reckons that if that is the way to get things done, then so be it.

One respected sports writer while agreeing that “what he has brought to the (WIPA/WICB) relationship is more assertiveness and a more confrontational manner”, quickly points out that he “ is very thorough and clearly knows more about the details of terms and contracts” than most members of the WICB for whom, he adds there appears to be “a clear lack of respect and trust.”

He also points out that in five separate matters that have gone to arbitration, the ruling has gone in favour of WIPA so obviously Ramnarine is doing something right even if the manner of so doing gets up the noses of his opponents.

Whether he does this with the jovial kindliness and respectful manner which many who know him intimately say are an integral part of his character or whether he is forced to “treat men as he finds them” and engage in street-fighter mode, one thing we can be sure of and that is he is doing his job as WIPA President and representing his players to the best of his ability.

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