WI Cricket Woes – In Perspective
The current dilemma in West Indies Cricket has created so much bitterness amongst the cricketing Diaspora that I feel compelled to present my views on this matter hoping that they might ignite some mature, pragmatic attempt at alleviating this seemingly unending problem.
Fortunately for me I had the opportunity to function as a WICB Director quite recently thereby experiencing a first hand view of how the Board operates, and consequently being able to understand and appreciate the difficulties involved in administering such an entity.
It certainly is not as easy as some people on the outside think, since it immediately reminded me of the problems of CARICOM, which the WICB in a somewhat reduced manner seemed to replicate.
I came to the realization that the three main actors in WI cricket: 1. Players 2. WIPA and 3. WICB appeared not to understand their roles/responsibilities or moreover are either incapable or unwilling to carry them out efficiently and effectively in the interest of WI cricket.
The Players: These “Professionals” seem to have lost their direction, they do not see themselves as the “Beacon” the ‘shining light that illuminates West Indies cricket at its best or “Blacks Out” the entire arena at its worst.
They do not appreciate the need for them to present themselves fit and ready for battle, whenever they are called. Rather they are more prepared to tell the WICB how they should or should not manage, totally oblivious of their responsibilities in the field thereby resulting in lacklustre or otherwise indifferent performances.
Notwithstanding all of this they demand their pound of flesh; totally unmindful of the dropped catches, missed run outs, poor shot selection and generally unpardonable cricket exhibitions on the field of play, all of which reflects poor preparation, mentally and physically, and a “don’t give a damn” attitude, much to the disgust, embarrassment and pain of their supporters, along with the considerably reduced financial returns to the WICB.
The professional cricketer must present himself for “work” – Ready Fit & Focused, and not prone towards complaints and blaming of the administration for his short comings.
WIPA: must play the role of the players representative with pride and responsibility by not only negotiating for more money and better conditions but to realistically review the overall position with the WICB, in the context of the Boards expectations of the Players and their responsibilities to the WI cricket product, both on and off the field bearing in mind the impact their performances will have on the public/spectators. Fairness must be the key to any discussion or negotiation.
WIPA must not see itself in a confrontational role but more understanding, conciliatory, cooperating and compromising in presenting players issues within the context of the West Indies Cricket Boards’ Policies/limitations.
It is incumbent on the WIPA to hold sessions with the players, on their roles as Players, Professionals and Ambassadors, advising them against the recent popular practice where individual players publicly attack the President or the Board with impunity, whilst concerning themselves with money grabbing at the expense of their individual performance.
Decent acceptable moral practices/procedures must be inculcated by the Players in terms of their respect for the authority of the Board and the correct manner of presenting their views or any problems that might arise from time to time.
The Board: must operate as the provider of the Players needs working along with WIPA in this regard; so that there could be a better understanding of the reasons for any action necessary.
It is responsible for creating the environment wherein the developing cricketer could fully exploit his or her God given talent.
Naturally, difficult problems would surface but that’s where the Board and WIPA will meet and decide on the solutions in the best interest of the “Cricket”.
Individual concerns must not take precedence. It is the only way our cricket could progress. Overtime, there have been all sorts of comments from past test players, commentators, journalists and even current players on who is right and who is wrong.
These pronouncements have largely been proffered by emotional considerations instead of rational objective inclinations.
The desire to fire the Directors and change the Board structure seems to be the most popular reaction of many to the crisis; but do we think that will solve this problem?
The Board does not consist of a static group, for over the years there have been many changes in the leadership (Presidents and Vice Presidents) as well as the Directors.
It is composed of two representatives from each of the six (6) countries that produce and provide cricketers to represent the West Indies; additionally up to six (6) members of the wider society are appointed to add quality to the decision making process of the Board.
For the benefit of those who do not know the following consists of the names of the current directors from each representative country.
1. Trinidad & Tobago - Mr. Deryck Murray - Past test star, veteran cricket administrator.
Dr. Allan Sammy- Distinguished public servant, Veteran cricket administrator
2. Barbados- Mr. Joel Garner - Past test star,veteran cricket administrator
Mr. Conde Riley- Retired business executive, veteran cricket administrator
3. Jamaica - Mr. Linden Wright - First class cricketer, veteran Cricketer administrator
Mr. Paul Campbell - Business executive, veteran Cricket administrator
4. Leewards - Mr. Enoch Lewis - First class cricketer, veteran Cricket administrator
Mr.Gregory Shillingford Former CEO
WICB, veteran Cricket administrator
5. Windwards - Mr. Emmanuel Nathan - Public servant Politician/ Veteran, Cricket administrator
Mr. Elson Crick - Experience public servant, Veteran cricket administrator
6. Guyana - Mr. Chetram Singh - Successful businessman, Veteran cricket administrator
Mr. Anand Sanasie - Businessman, cricket Administrator
7. Appointees - Mr. Clive Lloyd - WI Cricket’s supremo
Dr. Hillary Beckles - Extremely knowledgeable Cricket analyst and veteran cricket administrator
WIPA – Mr. D. Ramnarine- Resigned
WICB President - Dr. Julian Hunte
VP - Mr. Dave Cameroon
CEO- Mr. Steve Camacho
The brief profiles of these gentlemen whilst not exhaustive reflect the quality of personalities who are presently entrusted with the responsibilities of making decisions for the WI cricket board.
They are all hard working, decent, honest and committed members of our society, with a mixture of test stars, cricket administrators and cricket knowledgeables who have been extremely successful in managing their businesses and cricket within their respective countries.
They deserve better than to be regarded as “misfits” by some of their countrymen who can’t spare the time or the effort to get involved either at the territorial or West Indies Board levels to make any useful contribution but seek to publicly criticize.
Maybe coming out of the present scenario will emerge those who profess to know all the answers and reasons, coming on board and making a meaningful contribution.
It is only fair that those who administer cricket in their countries be given the opportunity to make decisions on the direction of WI Cricket in preference to any sideliner since they have a working knowledge and experience of producing cricketers, and are not paid a salary for their efforts.
May I add that the critics seem to suggest by their expressions that this Board is responsible for the mistakes of all time and overlook the fact that there have always been changes on the Board. Over the last fifteen (15) years we have had Sir Clyde Walcott, Peter Short, Wes Hall, Teddy Griffith, Pat Rousseau, Ken Gordon and now Dr. Julian Hunte as Presidents along with a wide array of Vice Presidents and Directors.
The fact is that there have always been administrative problems at WICB irrespective of who headed the Board or whoever were the directors. A point to note is that the previous Board had Mr. Ken Gordon, Sir Allister Mc Intyre, Dr. Granville Phillips amongst its directorship, all tested and proven Officials.
It has never been smooth sailing regardless of the leader or the men on Board. So the problem is more deep seated. At least during the Clive Lloyd breakaway, our Players kept our flag flying high unlike the present crop of “stars”. So maybe the regular turnover of leadership might have been a factor, and not so much the composition or the structure of the Board. Maybe the fact that there was no WIPA then might also have been a factor.
On the present composition of the Board, although the Patterson Committee pronounced that the Board was unwieldy at 18 in number, it recommended a 23 member board which is even more unwieldy. To say that the Patterson Committee’s recommendations have been disregarded is an unworthy misrepresentation, for an audit of the current administration’s efforts will prove that some aspects of the report have been addressed. I will not therefore argue on whether or not enough has been done to date given their limited tenure.
On the structure of the Board the system of: 1. Committees, 2 Executive Committees 3. Board of Directors and the Secretariat have one tier too many, in my humble opinion this innovation of the former President Ken Gordon indeed reflects a genuine effort on improving the decision making effectiveness of the Board. However this system is too burdensome and requires the elimination of the Executive Committee, so that necessary committees could be established to make recommendations for the Board’s approval after which the Board passes on its decisions to the secretariat for execution.
So although I feel that the present structure is manageable without the Executive Committee and some minor adjustments, I would have no problem with a Board structure that has one (1) rep. from each country along with five or six appointees providing that the executive committee is abandoned and the committees strengthened to provide for the analytical investigative work and presenting reports to the Board for approval with the Secretariat executing.
A Board of this nature will have to meet at least once every quarter with the President, CEO and Secretary officiating in between Board Meetings. All of these suggestions should be discussed with representatives of the WIPA, the Board and the Secretariat to ensure that a genuine attempt is made to resolve these matters.
The Secretariat must be managed by competent, qualified individuals who should be able to perform at the highest level with quality and efficiency befitting the expectancy of the WI Cricketing public.
The Board must be firm and deal with inefficient or ineffective employees condignly; they must be penalized or dismissed if they can’t function properly, in order to avoid situations like the Antigua test abandonment and the Providence stadium debacle, amongst others.
So if we could harmonise the efforts of those parties involved in our cricket administration by dispensing our mandate as directors with fair decisive action, to a fit and focused cricket squad, with a cooperative/understanding player representation within an acceptable and efficient structure composed of committed knowledgeable Directors, our cricket must improve; for all are involved in playing their roles. It is against this background that the Board must be commended for the strong stand it has now taken to start over, anew. You cannot bend a tree when it is old.
The Players, the WIPA and the Board must dump the old attitudes, dump the problematic MOU/contracts and design new performance related agreements, respecting each other, in the process whilst remembering that the “Board” is “The Authority” for West Indies Cricket Development and consequently the Tail does not Wag the Dog.