IS THERE a danger that the West Indies may not fulfil their contractual obligation to tour SA for three Test matches and five one-day internationals in December and January? Yes.

There is a rich tradition of intransigence and stupidity in cricket — it comes from spending so much time in the company of the same people playing a sport in which every individual is destined to fail more than they succeed — while stopping for meals.

But the cancellation of the West Indies tour of India may well be the stupidest move of them all. More stupid than match fixing or ball tampering. More stupid than many of the stupidest individuals ever to play, and there have been a few. Thousand.

The dispute which led to the cancellation of the tour between the fourth and fifth one-dayer with a Twenty20 and three Tests still to go is a triangular between the West Indies players, players association (Wipa) and the West Indies board (WICB) leaving the Board Of Control For Cricket In India (BCCI) as innocent victims. Though it requires a stretch of the imagination for anyone to call the BCCI "innocent" after its treatment of Cricket SA (CSA) last season.

At least match fixers and ball tamperers are under the (mostly misguided) illusion that they stand to benefit from their actions.

But as every cricket follower is aware, unless they have been on a nuclear submarine for the past year, the BCCI has seized control of the global game. and now shamelessly controls every aspect of it.

The threats of retaliation came immediately. BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel said India’s tour to the Caribbean next season was now "highly unlikely" followed by the news that BCCI could sue the WICB for as much as $65-million (about R715-million) in lost revenue and damages.

The West Indian players, meanwhile, have placed their Indian Premier League contracts at stake should they be declared the "guilty" party by the BCCI.

It’s hard to understand the broad details of the fallout, let alone the finer points, but for the sake of completeness, here is the potted history.

But as every cricket follower is aware, unless they have been on a nuclear submarine for the past year, the BCCI has seized control of the global game. and now shamelessly controls every aspect of it.

Half a dozen years ago Wipa president and CE Dinanath Ramnarine persuaded his opposite number at the WICB to sign an agreement which increased the earning potential of the squad.

The WICB believed Ramnarine had been disingenuous with the wording of the agreement and had, basically, conned the board which then asked the players to renegotiate. But Ramnarine stood firm and said: "No, you signed it."

Revenge has been a long time coming but, somehow, WICB president Dave Cameron persuaded Wipa CE, former batsman Wavell Hinds, to sign an amended memorandum of understanding, which cut the international players’ tour income by more than 50% in order to address the imbalance with underpaid domestic players in the Caribbean.

Hinds, always a feisty fighter for player rights, appears to have been either coerced or fooled into signing the agreement which Dwayne Bravo and his players only heard about, let alone laid eyes on, when they arrived in India. When Hinds promised the apoplectic Bravo that he would go back to the WICB and renegotiate, the spectacularly obstinate Cameron said: "No, you signed it."

The players threatened to strike before the third game but were persuaded to play.

When they threatened again before the fourth, Cameron and the WICB lost contact with the real world and recalled the players, seriously angering the BCCI which summarily ordered the Sri Lankan team to fill the void in their schedule. The mess is unlikely to be cleaned up soon.

CSA is left with the prospect of facing a West Indian "B" team hastily cobbled together from has-beens and wannabes, or organising a replacement tour. Having successfully filled the gap left at Newlands last year with a Twenty20 match against SA, perhaps they could expand that to a series? (Just kidding.) Another alternative would be to sue the WICB, akin to suing a beggar for obstructing the pavement.

Perhaps the best chance of a resolution in time to secure the tour of SA will come from the Federation of International Cricketers’ Association (Fica).

"The entire episode is destructive for everyone and for the game. It is going to take genuine will and effort to fix this mess," said Fica executive chairman Tony Irish.

If not, a quick glance at the international fixture list reveals that Bangladesh and Zimbabwe are both free over the festive season. A triangular, perhaps? The pulse races, the heart quickens.

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