The West Indies cut their Indian trip short after the fourth one-day international in Dharmasala on Friday due to an internal contract dispute, a move that has caused considerable commercial fall-out for the hosts.
Sri Lanka answered a call to play five ODIs to partially cover for the Windies, whose tour had one more ODI, one Twenty20 and three Test matches still to be played, but that has hardly placated the game’s most powerful national board.
A press release signed by board secretary Sanjay Patel confirmed that legal representatives will now be called, raising the prospect of a potentially crippling damages claim against the islanders, whose fragile finances are already threatened by the BCCI’s decision to withdraw from all existing agreements with the WICB – starting with a planned Caribbean visit in 2016.
The two brief bullet points which could plunge the troubled WICB into an even wider-scale crisis read: “1. BCCI will initiate legal proceedings against West Indies Cricket Board due to the abrupt cancellation of this tour.
“2. All Bilateral tours between BCCI and WICB stand suspended.”
The WICB’s board of directors are meeting in Barbados on Tuesday and plan to issue a statement of their own upon its conclusion.
The West Indies team have been in dispute with the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) over the signing of a new collective bargaining agreement and memorandum of understanding (MoU), which would see sponsorship payments reallocated to fund the wider professional game in the islands.
And with no agreement in sight the worst-case option of departing India with matches still to play was taken.
Some of the players involved were putting their own lucrative Indian Premier League contracts – or futures – at risk, but it is understood that no ban will be imposed on individuals taking part in that competition.
The WICB eventually made a conciliatory offer of a sending a new group of players to fulfil the fixtures but with a guaranteed mis-match not proving appealing to the Indians or their commercial partners, a five-match one-day series against Sri Lanka was hastily fixed.
Those games have been confirmed to take place in Cuttack, Hyderabad, Ranchi, Kolkata and Ahmedabad, with a detailed itinerary in the offing.
While West Indian relations with the game’s most powerful body have now sunk to a new nadir, Sri Lanka Cricket are now in a postion to take advantage of their new status as saviours.
An additional note on Tuesday’s BCCI release read: “The Members appreciated the gesture of Sri Lankan Cricket Board for having accepted our request to play five ODIs starting from 2nd of November 2014, at such a short notice. This tour is in lieu of their scheduled tour to India next year which will be reciprocated by India touring Sri Lanka in months of July/August 2015.”
India have also named a 15-man squad for the Sri Lanka series, with captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni absent.
It is unclear whether Dhoni has been rested or is unfit, but he has been replaced by Wriddhiman Saha as wicketkeeper and Virat Kohli as skipper.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar also misses out, with Varun Aaron taking his place in the seam attack, while there is a recall for spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.