Kaieteur News – The President of Guyana, Dr. Irfaan Ali, should carefully consider the continued involvement of Mr. Charles Ramson Jnr. as the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport. The decision to de-recognize the Guyana Cricket Board and to ban officials of that body from accessing the National Stadium is better associated with a Donald Trump administration than with a democratically elected government which has promised inclusion.
Such high-handed actions have no place in democratic governance. And should not be condoned or countenanced.
The present impasse was triggered by a mere difference of opinion as to whether the National Stadium was damaged following a football match held there under sodden conditions over the holidays. The Guyana Cricket Board says that the pitch and outfield were damaged and was of the view that the football match should not have been allowed to be played under such conditions.
This assessment was supported by the Manager of the National Stadium, Anthony Xavier. He was quoted by the Kaieteur News as saying, “The six pitches on the square and almost the entire playing area on the ground, including the bowler’s run-ups are in a terrible condition due to the Football which was played there in the rain.” He further related that the Head Curator of the Stadium has indicated that it would take at least six weeks to get the venue in shape to host cricket.
The Minister was not in agreement with the assessment of damage of the ‘square’ and the outfield and, following a tour of the stadium, lashed out at the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB). He was quoted in the media as saying, ‘ It was brought to my attention that a body that calls themselves (sic) GCB wrote to the …” This was followed later by a prohibition of officials of the GCB assessing the stadium, and a statement effectively de-recognizing that body.
This reaction by the Minister represents a case of overreach. It is hard to reconcile the non-recognition of the GCB because of the violations of the Cricket Administration Act when the government has not lawfully challenged any such violation. On the contrary, it is the GCB which has challenged the legality of the Cricket Administration Act.
Furthermore, the GCB has not been de-legitimized by the Courts or by the West Indies Cricket Board. The GCB remains the representative body for cricket in Guyana.
It is equally difficult to reconcile the Minister’s de-recognition of the GCB with the revelation by that body that the very Minister, upon assuming office, had summoned the GCB to a meeting in which all executives, except three attended. This is at odds with the present contention that the GCB has been de-recognized for the past five months. The GCB could not have been de-recognized if it has been invited to meet with the Minister.
The PPPC administration is once again pursuing confrontation with the GCB. This approach will hurt local cricket at a time when a number of Guyanese cricketers have an excellent chance of becoming permanent fixtures in the West Indies cricket teams.
Already, the reckless decision to host football at the stadium has affected the local team’s preparation since the ground cannot be ready in time to host the three trial matches from which the side to represent Guyana will be selected. This means that the local team will be denied the opportunity of having trial matches on the sward where one of the rounds of the Super 50 tournament will be held.
The public has every reason to be concerned about the government’s actions. Guyana is competing with more than 13 other territories for the hosting of regional and international cricket matches. The International Cricket Council (ICC) and the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) has strict standards which have to be satisfied for the hosting of matches. If Guyana hopes to have any chance of hosting any major tournament or visiting international team, it cannot afford to have problems with its ground and pitch preparation.
The issue of de-recognition of the GCB is pernicious. The ICC has codes against political interference in the administration of cricket. The ICC Constitution forbids political interference in the administration of cricket. In 2019 Zimbabwe was suspended from the ICC because of government interference in cricket administration.
The recent action of preventing GCB officials from accessing the National Stadium is petty, arrogant and autocratic. A simple difference of opinion as to whether a football match should have been hosted in wet conditions ought not to have led to such imperious actions.
Today, it is cricket, tomorrow it might be some other sport that will come under the hammer. The President has a duty to stop this cavalier approach to governance. He has a duty to act now to bring redress to executive high-handedness. (The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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