By Sean Devers
Once a West Indian cricketing power-house, Guyana endured its worst ever First-Class season this year.
In addition to the poor showing on the field, allegations of political interference and the power-struggle among Cricket Board officials continue to affect this country’s national sport.
Guyana’s hosting of matches in the Digicel home series involving Pakistan is now a concern and it is assumed that anyone genuinely interested in Guyana’s cricket would be keen to see positive changes both on and off the field.
The GCB elections which was set for January, is a critical step in Guyana’s cricket revival.
However, with the fifth ODI and First Test between West Indies and Pakistan set for Guyana next month, the GCB elections, at which a new President will be installed, will be further delayed because the Friendly Societies Act, which falls under the Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security, has postponed a meeting which was set for tomorrow.
Kaieteur News was informed by an official from the Friendly Societies Act last week that the meeting, which was already postponed, would take place tomorrow and that that the Enquirer’s report was expected to be handed over to the GCB, paving the way for Elections, which is now close to three months overdue.
When contacted on Friday, Permanent Secretary Trevor Thomas confirmed that no meeting will take place tomorrow. He explained that the GCB’s Audited report is still being examined and could not provide a date for the meeting.
Thomas denied earlier information from the Friendly Societies Act that the report was ready and said that while he understood the urgency for the GCB elections because of Pakistan’s tour to Guyana, addressing the GCB issues in a comprehensive manner was also important.
“All issues have to be addressed and the final report will not be ready by Monday (tomorrow). We hope to complete this as soon as possible,” PS Thomas said.
It is understood that once all legal requirements are not met by the GCB and the Friendly Societies Act (which the GCB is registered under) fails to give the green light, elections cannot be held.
The GCB constitution also states that at least 28 days notice of the elections in one of the national daily newspapers must be done, which could result in the elections being held just before Pakistan arrive here.
This could seriously compromise planning and affect Guyana being given International matches in the future if two different ‘GCB executive bodies’ are responsible for hosting the matches and have conflicting ideas. It is imperative that the GCB elections are urgently held since the board, elected for a two-year term in January 2009, has technically expired but can run the affairs of the GCB until the next elections are held.
Allegations of political interference have surfaced and if that proves true, the WICB and ICC could also intervene since this is not encouraged with national Boards who participate in International cricket.
The prolonged impasse between the feuding factions of the Demerara Cricket Board seems to be going ‘nowhere’ despite several Court hearings. It is understood that the case comes up for judgment on Thursday and the outcome of the DCB elections will directly affect the outcome of the GCB elections.
There is plenty of speculation as to why the GCB or Guyana’s Sports Minister is not intervening to end the controversy or set up an interim body to run Demerara’s cricket until the matter is cleared up. Guyana’s Sports Minister, Dr Frank Anthony, has promised to try and settle the DCB issues but the dispute continues while the thousands of cricket fans in Guyana have no say in the matter.
When contacted Friday evening, GCB President Chetram Singh said he was very frustrated with the slow progress of the Labour Ministry on such an important matter and added that while he has been informed that tomorrow’s meeting is off, no reason was given.
Singh is not seeking re-election after serving as GCB Head since 1991 and said that it was his hope that the new President and his team would have been in place to ensure the Guyana leg of the Pakistan tour was a success.
“As far as I am aware the report is ready. I was told this at the last meeting and I am frustrated from a cricketing point of view with the whole issue. We (GCB) submitted copies of the audited financial statements and annual returns since January and this whole process is just being dragged on,” Singh disclosed.
Singh, the longest serving Director on the WICB, urged those in authority to act in a speedy manner to do what was best for Guyana’s cricket since much is at stake long after he leaves the Board.
Government has spent much on the construction of the Stadium at Providence for the hosting of the 2007 World Cup and Singh said, with all the new Stadiums in the West Indies there is ‘stiff’ competition for matches and the installation of a new President and executive is vital to Guyana’s cricket.
“Some of the work right now at the Board office is being directed to the Pakistan tour but we (GCB) need people to serve in various committees….we need an executive to get it moving ……we need elections since I don’t want this board to be making decisions which could then be overturned when the new executive comes into power,” Singh pointed out.
He said a smooth transition is important in any organization, adding that he did not want to do anything that might offend the ‘new people’ and leave a vacuum when they take over.
It is also understood that the GCB will be seeking legal advice on the way forward since at least two legal minds indicated that the Elections can be held even if the Labour Ministry fails to give the green light.
Some in the sporting fraternity say that while the new Sports Policy document stipulates that every sporting Association in Guyana must register under the Friendly Society Act, those who have not yet registered must be careful since this could be a mechanism for Government to have a ‘strong say’ in who runs those organizations. They also questioned the role of the National Sports Commission.
It is felt that because of the internal fighting among officials, only a few are running the GCB and it is imperative that Dr Anthony ensures that the GCB elections are held as soon as possible.
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