The West Indies cricket team leaves for Australia today following a fight among two telecommunications companies for the hearts and minds of Caribbean consumers that almost killed the tour.
Digicel and Cable and Wireless have for some months now been conducting a behind the scenes battle over how their logos should be displayed when West Indies cricketers take to the field for the game.
The struggle arose after Digicel replaced C&W as the major official sponsor of West Indies cricket, only to find that C&W had been signing up individual appearance contracts with players, committing them to wear the C&W blue and white while they are members of a team sponsored by Digicel.
‘We have a contract with the WICB [West Indies Cricket Board]. There are duties and deliverables on behalf of the WICB and we expect them to deliver on those,’ said Seamus Lynch earlier this year at the time he held the post of Digicel’s regional Chief Executive Officer.
The tough talk by Digicel was supported by the fact that this fast growing mobile phone company had committed to at least US$20 million in support of regional cricket over the next five years. In doing so it replaced C&W, which had spent US$35 million in 20 years of sponsorship.
The row got so loud that it required intervention of Caribbean heads of states, Grenada Prime Minister Keith Mitchell and Barbados’ Owen Arthur.
Diplomacy prevailed, and the tour is going ahead today although a final agreement is yet to be worked out with the competing sponsors.