A BATTING WITH BIMAL BREAKING REPORT: Ramnaresh Sarwan receives $161,000 in damages from WICB

Sarwan was pleased upon hearing the final verdict

West Indies batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan, who has not represented his country since June 2011, was successful in winning his case against the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) over the comments they made about his fitness and attitude and as a result, he was awarded $161,000 in damages.

Even though the verdict was delivered back in March, the West Indies Players’ Association (WIPA) only revealed details of the hearing last month since they wanted to ensure that the WICB paid Sarwan in full.

Sarwan and the WIPA first made an appeal against the WICB in March 2011 after the board had publicly criticised Sarwan about his fitness and attitude towards the game.

Sarwan believes the comments made by the WICB derailed his career as an international cricketer as he was not awarded a central contract for the 2010 to 2011 season, and this damaged his “reputation as a professional cricketer” and “sullied his career as an international cricketer.”

The arbitrator in the case, Seenath Jairam agreed with Sarwan’s view of the “loss and damage” the WICB had caused him, and Jairam stated that Sarwan had been “denigrated”.

Jairam also mentioned that the WICB had breached their Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Sarwan in numerous places, and as a result they were made to pay him damages.

After the verdict was announced, the WICB said that the ruling had been “highly flawed ruling by the arbitrator.”

During the summer Sarwan experienced a lot of success playing with Leicestershire as the West Indies were beaten by England, and the former batsman noted how he had been “mentally broken down by certain individuals”.

The problems between Sarwan and the WICB started on January 11 2010 when Ernest Hilaire, the WICB chief executive, sent Sarwan a message stating that he was concerned about his “attitude and approach to fitness and physical preparation” even though Sarwan had played through the final two Tests against Australia after suffering an injury on the eve of the first Test.

“While this letter is not intended to highlight specific incidents, we hope that you take our concern as a statement of our desire for a higher level of commitment and application from you as a contracted player and a member of the West Indies cricket team,” the message from Hilaire said.

During the hearing, Sarwan noted that he had called Hilaire back when receiving the message, but the WICB chief executive had failed to clearly explain what was meant by the letter.

“Dr. Hilaire still refused to let Mr. Sarwan know what he meant by his words in his letter and, further, stated that ‘if I don’t change my attitude, my career would end’, and then he hung up the phone,” Jairam said upon considering the verdict.

Hilaire, who did not testify against Sarwan during the hearing, stated that the batsman had not been “threatened” in any way.

“Mr. Sarwan had a telephone conversation with Dr. Hilaire relating to the letter. Mr. Sarwan, in that telephone conversation, contested that he was unfit and argued that the team physiotherapist and fitness trainer did not like him, Dr. Hilaire defended the professionalism of the staff. Mr. Sarwan was told that he would need to satisfy team management that he was sufficiently fit to play,” the WICB said.

When Sarwan got injured during the Australia series in January 2010, the WICB refused to let him do an MRI scan, but Sarwan eventually had it done after Cricket Australia paid for it themselves.

Also during the 2010 series against South Africa at home, Sarwan suffered a hamstring injury and he claims that coach Ottis Gibson told him to talk to the physiotherapist about the injury since he was not in charge of dealing with the situation.

Sarwan later paid for his himself to go the United States and Canada to receive treatment.

After not receiving a central contract for the 2010 to 2011 season, Sarwan stated that chairman of selectors Clyde Butts had told him that he had not gotten a contract “due to concerns about his approach and attitude to fitness, which resulted in the frequency of injuries sustained.”

Upon being told this by Butts, Sarwan noted that he was astonished since none of the selectors, including Butts, had ever made a remark about his fitness and health in the past.

“The team management, selection committee and the WICB are concerned about Mr. Sarwan’s extremely indifferent attitude and sporadic approach towards fitness, particularly in recent years. It is the considered view of the selection committee, following consultations with the specialists in the team management, that Ramnaresh’s less than satisfactory and fluctuating fitness levels have directly contributed to multiple injuries thereby causing him to be unavailable for selection to the West Indies team. Due to these multiple injuries, Ramnaresh was available for only two Tests and a total of only 13 international matches for West Indies in the past contract year, (October 2009 to September 2010) which is less than half of the total number of matches played by West Indies for the period,” a WICB media release on September 2 2010 said.

When delivering the final verdict, Jairam declared that Sarwan has been treated unfairly by the WICB and as a result he awarded Sarwan the following damages: $95,000 as damages for loss of retainer (original claim $120,000), $20,000 as damages for breach of contract (claim: $40,000), $18,000 for loss of provident fund contributions given his age (claim: $18,000), $13,000 as damages for loss of publicity/reputation (claim: $15,000), and $15,000.00 under his claim for further or other relief.

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