Facilitator embraced in mediation talks

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados CMC – Mediator Sir Shridath Ramphal has embraced the presence of a facilitator in the fierce dispute between West Indies players and the board that led to a boycott of the current Bangladesh series by the region’s top flight players. Experienced Industrial Relations practitioner Gerard Pinard is representing the board in the mediation talks and Sir Shridath is encouraged by the early interactions.

“This I think is a very positive step forward,” Sir Shridath said in an exclusive CMC Sport interview.

Sir Shridath is mediator in the long-standing row over pay and contracts that until last week was growing more bitter between West Indies Players Association (WIPA) boss Dinanath Ramnarine and the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), headed by Julian Hunte.

After an agreement last Tuesday for a mediation process, Sir Shridath had his first meeting on Sunday with the feuding parties and he feels the involvement of the board’s nominated facilitator should help the process.

“Using a facilitator is a technique of mediation that you use to try to draw back from the more hostile exchanges and develop the processes towards reconciliation through facilitators chosen by the parties, being persons in whom they have confidence, to speak for them and to agree for them, to do a deal for them if you like, to make the compromises,” Sir Shridath said.

Sir Shridath is targeting the end of next month at the latest for settlement of this dispute and the next scheduled mediation meeting is set for next week.

He believes both parties are committed to taking the process past the crippling conflict which has left a makeshift team representing West Indies against Bangladesh in the current Digicel Home Series.

They have lost both Test and One Day International (ODI) series to the little-rated Bangladesh and the board has already named a largely inexperienced squad – minus most of the top flight players – for the Champions Trophy in South Africa in September.

The Guyana-born mediator believes a settlement is within their reach.

“I would like to give the region hope. I believe both parties are conscious and indeed they have said so that they have responsibilities beyond themselves, not just to the board, not just to the players, but to the people of the West Indies, who are the owners of West Indian cricket and to the international sport for cricket,” he said.

The former Commonwealth Secretary-General declared he wants to move swiftly toward a resolution.

Following his first meeting, Sir Shridath said he believed a deliberation period of six weeks should be enough to broker a solid agreement.

“West Indies cricket cannot afford a long stalemate which is the situation we are in now. My own timeline – although the meeting hasn’t put a time on it – my own personal hope is that we can see this process through within August.

“By the end of August, this should be a process done and put behind us,” he told CMC Sport.

Sir Shridath was appointed to mediate the dispute following a meeting between WIPA, the WICB and CARICOM’s chairman Guyana’s President Bharrat Jagdeo in Georgetown last Tuesday.