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Pandemic forced West Indies to pay wages via borrowed money, says Ricky Skerritt

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Cricket West Indies President Ricky Skerritt revealed on Saturday that the global pandemic forced the board to pay wages of players and staff with borrowed money.

Skerritt, who will fight against Guyana Cricket Board secretary Anand Sanasie to be re-elected for a two-year term, disclosed the financial situation of the cricket body and how their international debt - close to USD 20 million - reduced to a third in his tenure.

“The biggest problem we were facing is that all of our future cash was spoken for before we even got it. We were living on borrowed future income. So, we had close to USD 20 million in institutional debt,” Skerritt told ESPNCricinfo.

“Now, we've cut our debt down by at least a third now after less than two years. And, with some difficulty, we have improved our ability to meet our obligations, we just could not meet most of our obligations [previously],” he added.

The 64-year-old went on record to state how the CWI paid the staff with borrowed money as everyone received a 50 per cent pay cut in the wake of the pandemic.

“The pandemic is devastating but it gave us an opportunity and an excuse to focus on what we really needed to focus on, which was keeping CWI going and getting all stakeholders to understand that it would take sacrifices from all of us, including a 50% pay cut for everybody.”

“We were borrowing money to pay wages. We did that for the first year that I was in office. Right up until the early summer last year we were literally having to borrow to just pay players and staff,” Skerritt said.

The West Indies team was first to tour amid the pandemic, flying to England for a Test series in July last year. However, there has been talks that some unnamed individuals within the governing body wanted Ricky Skerritt to demand a lump sum amount to complete the tour.

“Some people were upset that we tried to re-introduce cricket because, for them, no cricket was going to be used as a failure of ours. They (people) wanted me to somehow hold a gun to the head of the England Cricket Board (ECB) and extort money from them because there was this perception that if we didn't go to England, the ECB would go bankrupt,” the CWI boss revealed.

However, the former Windies team manager argued that he simply couldn’t comply with such plans.

“There were other teams lined up to go to England and I could bet you that none of them are going to do the distasteful action of seeking to extort money for the trip. It just doesn't happen in ICC systems. There's absolutely no record of a visiting team being able to extort money from a host. That's not how the system works.”

Feature image courtesy: AFP / Randy Brooks

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