Cuffy says Cayman pros should be better paid

The Stanford 20/20 tournament is a resounding success again.

All the big teams are safely through to the quarter-finals and vying for the ultimate US$1 million prize.

Cayman Islands may have gone out to St Lucia but local players are already thinking ahead to next year’s tournament when they will be a full-time pro side. Inadequate preparation because of work commitments contributed to their 46 run loss to St Lucia who are one of only four pro Stanford teams, along with Antigua, Anguilla and Nevis.

Overseeing the transformation from part-timers to dedicated pros is Cayman’s technical director of cricket Theo Cuffy. He is looking forward to the transition. ‘We are in the next group of pro teams, however the Stanford tournament must be concluded first and then I think they’ll refocus into other directions,’ he said. ‘We don’t have any knowledge of when we will go pro but it will be in the near future.’

A bone of contention for Cayman when the pro terms were banded last year was the starting salary of US$2,500 a month. Cayman is one of the costliest places to live in the Caribbean and many turning pro would have to take a drastic cut.

‘The players’ earnings are negotiable,’ Cuffy said. ‘We know that the Antigua Pro Team is earning around $2,500 a month. That is not good enough for us in Cayman. My view is that it shouldn’t be anything less than $4,000 and we should be negotiating along that line.’

Stanford is a generous benefactor who likes to do things his way. Cuffy does not foresee him getting into negotiations with trade unions. ‘I don’t think there are any trade unions in Stanford’s companies. There is a West Indies Players Association but Stanford doesn’t work with them, he’s working with the countries. The players’ association is not happy about it but there isn’t anything they can do, he’s not dealing with them. If they feel so upset about it, I can’t see anything for them to work on. Stanford is dealing with the West Indies Cricket Board who have a deal with the West Indies Players’ Association. Sometimes you mustn’t just be a trade union for trade union sake, that you oppose everything that is being put on the table. You must be able to compromise and work out for the best of the player.

‘Everyone of our West Indies players want to take part in the Stanford tournament and the players’ association must respect that. How we go about it is that we dialogue. Communicate, discuss and then see how it works out, because basically the players are playing for their respective countries and they all want to go for this big pot.

‘It is not only good for the players, the finalists and the respective countries are being paid handsomely too. This can only work to the development of cricket in the region. Why stand in front of that?

The conflict between the players and the West Indies Board has been more or less straightened out now. The president of the players’ association, Dinanath Ramnarine, is now a non-voting director of the Board.

‘It isn’t a conflict of interest. It has worked wonderfully in South Africa and I think this is a way of handling things. It gives the players a voice directly in the handling of West Indies cricket, one that they didn’t have before. Now from the players’ perspective they are able now to relay their points directly through their president. Ramnarine is a tough negotiator but not a horrible person. Six times he has gone to arbitration and won every time.

‘What he has is an incompetent West Indies Cricket Board that he’s dealing with. They need to get their act together. Now certain things are happening in West Indies cricket that makes it seem to me that things are happening under the new president, Julian Hunte. Still, I am unhappy about how the cricket committee was dismantled, in particular how they informed our former greats, like Ian Bishop, Desmond Haynes, Andy Roberts and Courtney Walsh. We treat them with contempt. You send them a letter telling them that they’re removed from the Board simply because they are unavailable when they have meetings. That is not acceptable. It was a restructuring of the committee but I don’t think it was handled properly. We obviously have square pegs in round holes.’