Says Sean Devers
As a former Berbice senior cricketer who has experienced the honour of representing my country on the cricket field, it is with sadness that I watch Guyana’s demise.
The problems in Guyana’s cricket have escalated in the last two years after the battle for the GCB Presidency between Chetram Singh and Bish Panday in January 2009.
The fact that Guyana has won just two regional titles at any level since 2005 (U-19 three-day in 2007 & t20 last year) has not helped as allegations of misuse of funds and the constant back-biting among board officials continues almost non-stop.
Delayed due to investigations by the Friendly Societies Act, the GCB elections was held in July and was controversial with the non-participation of the Demerara Cricket Board which was divided into two factions, neither of which was recognised.
The GCB constitution is badly outdated and needs to be urgently amended. It says the presence of two of the three county boards and at least 12 of the possible 27 delegates must be present at the AGM for a corium to be formed for the holding of elections, the last agenda of the AGM.
Chief Justice Ian Chang said to me recently that it was strange that less than half of the designated delegates still form a corium. I fully agreed, but it is the constitution, despite its flaws, that governs Guyana’s cricket. If the BCB did not attend the AGM, the elections would have been postponed but some of their members turned up and Ramsay Ali was elected President.
When the GCB called National women’s trials and picked the Guyana team (led by a Berbician) for the regional series in Barbados, none of the county boards questioned the Board’s right to do so. An injunction from a member of the BCB was then filed questioning the GCB elections. The injunction was subsequently dismissed since according to the Chief Justice, the GCB was a legal non entity.
The Chief Justice recommended that the Sports Ministry assist in solving the problems with the GCB but it appeared that some misinterpreted the ‘recommendation’ of the Chief Justice thinking it was an order.
President of the BCB Keith Foster seem not to understand that the Chief Justice’s discloser that the GCB is a legal non entity does not mean the GCB is illegal.
On the surface, with all the problems surrounding Guyana’s cricket, the decision by President Bharrat Jagdeo to form an IMC seemed a commendable gesture.
However, the setting up the IMC by the Guyanese Head-of-State and putting his Sports Minister who had very little practical or administrative knowledge of cricket, to head that body could be deemed a political appointment, something the ICC does not encourage. WICB President Julian Hunte and Clive Lloyd met with President Jagdeo and Sports Minister Dr Frank Anthony last week to discuss Government’s Position and a follow up meeting was scheduled for this week.
If there is no solution to the problem and the President insists on forming a committee headed by his Minister, the WICB can impose sanctions against Guyana.
WICB matches would not be staged here and the worse case scenario would be Guyana being left out of WICB and ICC tournaments. This could mean the end of the dream of playing for the West Indies for thousands of Guyanese youths and the loss of income for those already playing at the First-Class level.
The WICB recognizes the GCB as the governing body for Guyana’s cricket despite the formation of the IMC and a trial match to pick a National team to oppose Trinidad and Tobago in two t20 practice matches tomorrow and Wednesday was scheduled for last Saturday at Bourda. The BCB told its players to boycott the match because the GCB was illegal and then threatened disciplinary action against the players who participated in the match.
“We were told that the cricket board told the players that they had to turn up for the trial match or else they would not be selected for Guyana,” BCB President Keith Foster said, suggesting this was a threat.
Because he has never been in a position of being invited to National cricket trials and has no experience of being a Berbice or Guyana cricketer, Foster could be excused for not knowing the requirements of players who aspire to represent their country. But as the BCB head he should have been better advised.
In 1998 I was told by the then Chairman of National selectors Leslie Amsterdam (at the time the BCB President) that if I did not attend a senior national trial match I would not be eligible for Guyana selection. This is after I had asked to miss the third trial game to cover a Test match in Barbados.
The BCB has ordered the players, who put Guyana’s cricket first by participating in the trial, to a meeting in New Amsterdam today although the Berbicans in the National squad have to attend a Guyana practice session this afternoon in the City.
If the BCB wishes to support President Jagdeo’s decision to set up an IMC to run Guyana’s cricket and have politicians involved, that is their choice. If the BCB intends to boycott activities organized by the GCB then that is also their right.
But to force players to jeopardize their careers to support the Board’s position on a political issue and to want to impose punishment on players for standing up for what is right, should never be condoned.
I was asked by the Ramsay Ali led GCB to serve on their Cricket Development Committee. I was offered the same position on the Bissoon Singh faction had they ascended to office. My main concern is the cricket and it matters not to me who are the personalities in charge of Guyana’s cricket once they want to see the genuine development of the game.
While I have never been officially informed why I have been left out of cricket commentary on the state-owned NCN Radio since 2006 although I am employed by regional Radio stations and the BBC World Service, I have never been ‘anti or pro’ Government since (fortunately or unfortunately) I have little interest in Politics.
Cricket is my life and the President’s setting up an IMC with a politician as its head, could affect Guyana’s cricket. The amending of the GCB constitution must be done urgently while a mechanism must be put in place to ensure the best possible persons form the GCB in free and fair elections and all allegations properly investigated.
However, while the Government should play a role, especially through its Sports Ministry, it should not, to my mind, set up the committee since this could be deemed political interference. The quest to show who is boss and who has more power must be put aside in this very sensitive issue which could determine the future of Guyana’s cricket and politicians and those that support them must be careful on the way forward without jeopardizing Guyana’s cricket.
The decision of the Berbice cricketers to ignore the BCB in the interest of Guyana’s cricket sends a positive message that the most important people in the cricket fraternity (the players) will not be caught up in politics.
The BCB should leave the players out of the politics and remember that if there are no cricketers there would be no need for cricket administrators.
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