By Sean Devers
The three-day visit to Guyana by President of Cricket West Indies (CWI) Ricky Skerritt and Chief Executive Officer Jonny Gravewhich commenced on Thursday and entailed meetings with various Stakeholders in Guyana’s cricket, Minister of Sports Dr George Norton and Guyana’s Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo.
In their congratulatory message after the CWI’s elections the group said that they looked forward to an urgent resolution to the crisis in the administration of Guyana’s Cricket which has been ongoing since 2011. This includes the illegality of the current executives of the Guyana Cricket Board as stated in a sworn affidavit emanating from the Ministry of the Presidency.
On Thursday Evening at the Pegasus Hotel, the CWI officials met with the ‘Guyana Cricket Stakeholders’ group which comprise of representatives from the cricket fraternity of Berbice, East Coast, Linden and Georgetown and many are optimistic that this meeting was the first step to fixing this problem.
President of the Georgetown Cricket Association former West Indies player and Coach Roger Harper, speaking on
behalf of the Guyana Cricket Stakeholders’ group, noted that no decisions or commitments were made at Thursday Evening’s meeting which was more of a ‘fact finding’ visit. Harper informed that the legality of the GBC’s Executive Body was one of main issues discussed.
“We discussed some of the main issues affecting cricket in Guyana but no decisions were made, this is the first time a CWI President has come to Guyana and listened to what we had to say. So I am fairly satisfied that this is start to fixing the problems we have,” said Harper.
CWI, under the Presidency of Jamaican Dave Cameron had turned a blind eye on the GCB’s indiscretions and the GCB was one of the Regional Boards that supported Cameron at the CWI’s last elections.
Repairing stakeholder relationships was one of the key points of the “Cricket First Plan” put forward by Skerritt and vice president Dr. Kishore Shallow in their bid last March to be elected to their posts – and this visit to Guyana is part of a series of trips that the CWI president has undertaken in keeping with this plan.
Skerritt, who defeated Cameron in the last CWI elections in Jamaica, said these fact-finding visits to CWI member territories and problem-solving efforts at the local level are now a key priority for the organization.
Cricket West Indies has also retained high profile commercial lawyer Devindra Kissoon of London House Chambers who represented cricket legends Chris Gayle and Ramnaresh Sarwan in the past, and lead negotiations among the ICC, WICB and WIPA on matters concerning player’s rights in 2012.
Sources stated that priority of the discussions focused on the hosting of the India Games in Guyana, the development of the youth cricket, and the impact of the recent court rulings on cricket in Guyana.
CWI also expressed concern about the process of appointing the ombudsman and questioned whether consultations were had with the West Indies cricket board or former President Cameron personally.
In March, Dr. George Norton announced the appointment of Stephen Lewis as Cricket Ombudsman although he works in Chambers of GCB’s Attorney Roysdale Forde, and was injuncted from acting in the same position by the Court and who works in same office of the GCB Attorney.
When asked for comment the Cricket West Indies lawyer declined, except to say the meetings were a success and statements would be forthcoming from the Board shortly.
High Court Judge, Justice Fidela Corbin on April 3, 2019 ruled that the executive committee of the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) is illegal and could not hold themselves out to be office bearers or perform functions of the Board.
Anand Sanasie, acting in his capacity as CEO of Cricket Guyana Inc, was a member of the presentation party for the U-19 inter-county 50-over tournament.
But while the Guyana Cricket Stakeholders claim that the CGI has also been deemed illegal, Kaieteur Sports has seen no evidence to support this claim.
“This initial short visit will focus on discussions related to the hosting of India matches during the upcoming home series in August, but it will also hopefully give me a more detailed introduction to the legal and administrative issues that are currently prevailing in Guyana,” he said.
The 2019 Regional 50-over U-19 tournament is also scheduled for Guyana, but sources indicated that if the issues surrounding the GCB are not solved then the tournament could be shifted to St Vincent or Grenada.
The CWI pair and their Lawyer were expected to meet with Sanasie and his former GCB executives some last evening.
In July 24 last year, approximately 39 persons from a group calling themselves ‘Guyana Cricket Stakeholders’ staged a peaceful protest against the Government of Guyana outside the Office of Attorney General Basil Williams to highlight Government’s apparent reluctance to address the issue of the Guyana Cricket Administration Act and the alleged illegality of the GCB.
Spokesman for the group, former WICB Director Claude Raphael informed that the two-hour Picket was aimed at bringing to public’s attention the David Granger’s Government’s perceived lack of will in dealing with the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) issue which he feels is affecting the development of Guyana’s cricket. He called for Government’s intervention to bring some normalcy to the manner in which cricket is administered in Guyana. The group wanted free and fair elections to be held by the GCB.
After a challenge to the Guyana Cricket Administration Act 2014 by the GCB, the then Chief Justice (Ag) Ian Chang, upheld an injunction and issued an order that prevented any elections of the GCB and its membership until the substantive matter is heard.
In 2014, then Sports Minister Dr Frank Anthony had, as was mandated by the ‘Cricket Administration Act’, appointed Pastor Winton McGowan, a respected cricket historian, to the position of ‘Cricket Ombudsman’ with his duties being to verify the members that were eligible to vote and oversee the GCB elections.
In the GCB Challenge to the ‘Cricket Administration Act’, Minister Frank Anthony and Attorney General Anil Nandalall were named as defends but now that the Government has changed, former Sports Minister Nicolette Henry and Attorney General Basil Williams, who worked on the ‘Cricket Bill’ when he was in the opposition party, have now become the defendants in the case.
The Guyana Cricket Stakeholders staged their protest to address the issue of the injunction preventing Elections of the GCB, the Guyana Cricket Administration Act and the alleged illegality of the GCB.
The two delegations and the Media were told by Williams that the way was now clear for Elections of the GCB and its Affiliate members since the Challenge to the Guyana Cricket Act from the GCB, which was upheld by the then Chief Justice Ian Chang on April 29, 2015 resulting in an injunction stopping the Elections had been quashed.
The then Sports Minister Dr Frank Anthony and AG Anil Nandlall were named as defendants but before the matter was completed a new Government was voted into power.
“We inherited this injunction from the previous Administration but legally if nothing happens after a year the injunction is abandoned and incapable of revival,” said AG Williams.
That effectively meant that elections of all boards could now be held but the GCB appealed the decision.
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