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Another review, another rejection expected

236581By Tony Cozier From ESPN cricketinfo

Four governance reviews of West Indies cricket have not been acted upon, because the board does not want change

The West Indies Cricket Board confirmed at its annual general meeting in Jamaica last weekend that its name is to be changed to Cricket West Indies.

It was a retitling first promoted by the comprehensive Patterson Report on the board’s governance and structure in 2007, prepared by a committee headed by the former Jamaica prime minister PJ Patterson. Like other key points, it has remained dormant in the nine years since, while in the interim, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa have made the switch.

Patterson explained at the time that the new name would reflect the difference in the WICB’s governance structure as recommended by his panel. That “difference” is yet to be realised, in spite of the committee’s caveats that “change must be effected urgently” and that “the status quo is not an option”.

Under pressure from Caribbean governments (CARICOM), who have insisted on the implementation of the main item of the review committee, presented last November, the latest of four of its kind, the WICB tackled the subject of transformation at its Jamaica meeting. Two statements were issued afterwards, however, that blurred the question as to whether or not the board intends to follow the lead of Australia and New Zealand in meaningfully reorganising itself.

One came from the shareholder boards. The six – Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Leeward Islands, Trinidad & Tobago and Windward Islands – strongly supported the WICB’s earlier rejection of the proposals of CARICOM’s independent panel. Established jointly by CARICOM and the WICB under the principal of the University of the West Indies, Barbados campus, Dr Eudine Barriteau, that panel included the president of the Caribbean Court of Justice, Sir Dennis Byron, and that of the Caribbean Development Bank, Warren Smith, and former West Indies vice-captain Deryck Murray.

226369History indicates that the WICB directors will once more dig their heels in as they have done over the years. They have repeatedly rejected submissions from the various reports reviewing the board’s governance and structure

Its main proposal was that the board should be immediately dissolved and that its current members resign while a differently constituted alternative was assembled. It was a pill too bitter to swallow. WICB president Dave Cameron, who has risen to the top of the WICB after 14 years in the directorate in one position or another, used forthright language to accuse the report of making “findings and recommendations… not supported by the facts”. It was, he said, “wrong to blame governance of the WICB for the team’s performances on the field”.

At the same time, Cameron announced the formation of a panel of “experts” to assess the proposals not implemented from the earlier reports on governance. It is to be led by Don Wehby, a Jamaican business executive, now a government senator and former cabinet minister. He and two others, Clifford Reis of Guyana and Ricky Skerritt, an earlier West Indies team manager, are non-voting WICB directors; three non-aligned members are to be added.

Cameron said the panel would focus primarily on the recommendations of committees under Trinidad & Tobago High Court judge Anthony Lucky in 2004, Patterson in 2007, and St Kitts-Nevis Queen’s Counsel Charles Wilkin in 2012, all of whose findings were shelved. The panel’s remit is to examine “if there is an opportunity to bring anything back to the territorial boards and the WICB for adoption by the shareholders”.

“Once that process is complete, a change-management expert will be brought in to complete the process for a smooth transition,” Cameron added.

It sounded very much as if Wehby’s group is expected to endorse the earlier proposals from Patterson and Wilkin and present them to be stamped by the member boards and the WICB itself. If so, they will find it a very hard sell.

History indicates that the WICB directors will once more dig their heels in as they have done over the years. They have repeatedly rejected submissions from the various reports reviewing the board’s governance and structure. The latest rebuff has so frustrated CARICOM that the two bodies are no longer on speaking terms.

Patterson and Wilkin echoed each other’s propositions almost word for word, and Barriteau’s stipulation was that the WICB be immediately dissolved.

Patterson’s plan was for a two-tier system – a Cricket West Indies Council and a Cricket West Indies Board. The council, drawn from “a wide range of stakeholders”, 23 was the suggested number, would meet once a year “to review the state of West Indies cricket”. The board would be the executive arm of Cricket West Indies to act within the “broad outlines” settled by the council.

Wilkin’s group projected a board reduced to 15, comprising president, vice-president, representatives of the territorial boards cut from two to one each, six directors elected from outside the board, and the chief executive officer as an ex-officio director.

Four years after handing his report to the WICB, Patterson charged that its main point for restructuring was ignored “because it would have resulted in some degree of openness which does not exist in the present situation”.

“I wasted a year after retirement [preparing the report],” he lamented.

Both he and Wilkin concluded that the directors were hostile to the suggested changes due to their intention to protect their positions on the board.

In the circumstances, it is unrealistic to believe that WICB directors will suddenly do a complete u-turn and agree to a restructuring of the organisation, whatever Wehby’s committee finds pertinent in reports that have gathered dust for years, while West Indies cricket has increasingly staggered in the international game that it once dominated through the 1980s.

Hope still lingers that the board might finally be moved by the reality that is if it does not accept the need for reform, the revival that has been elusive for two decades will remain that way.

Tony Cozier has written about and commentated on cricket in the Caribbean for over 50 years
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.


PJ Patterson, the former prime minister of Jamaica, recommended a two-tier system of governance – a council and an executive arm – in his 2007 report © AFP

What does the West Indies board hope to achieve from yet another examination of the various reviews down the years? © WICB Media/Brooks LaTouche Photography Ltd

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Related story:

Michael Holding questions his mention in Dave Cameron’s response to lawsuit

prv_76c26_1457890538From Cricbuzz

“I won’t bother to mention the other broadcasters around the world who are willing to offer me contracts to do cricket broadcasts for them,” Michael Holding said.

Michael Holding has questioned why Dave Cameron, the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) President, has called his name in response to the lawsuit levelled against Cameron by veteran journalist Tony Cozier.

On March 4th, Cozier officially sued Cameron for defamation, after the latter was quoted in the media allegedly suggesting in a town hall meeting on May 22, 2015 in Barbados, that Cozier’s struggling vision was the reason why the iconic commentator was no longer doing television commentary in the Caribbean.

“There is no ban on Mr Cozier. The challenge is Mr Cozier has gotten to an age – and everyone needs to agree, that he is not actually seeing very well anymore. And we are being very, very frank about that.

“It has nothing to do with him as a person. And we don’t believe the quality of the commentary benefits from having him on television. He still continues to do radio.”

However in responding the Cozier’s lawsuit in the Barbados nation newspaper, Cameron unusually interjected Holding’s name, stating:

“I do not have anything personal against Tony Cozier or Michael Holding. I am seeking to rebuild the cricketing industry in the West Indies and trying to take it to the next level. This issue is not about my perceived intransigence or arrogance, but about other things,” Cameron said.

Speaking to cricbuzz, Holding explained his issue with those comments: “I fail to see why Mr Cameron has included my name in his response to Tony Cozier’s law suit. Is he saying that there is something wrong with me or my commentary, why he doesn’t see it fit for me to do television in the Caribbean?”

He continued: “I won’t bother to mention the other broadcasters around the world who are willing to offer me contracts to do cricket broadcasts for them but I will point out that this now seems contrary to Cameron’s utterances previously. He previously said I was not available to do commentary in the Caribbean because of my commitments to Skysports. But I suppose since I proved that to be a lie, he can’t now repeat that reason so what is it now?”

In a May 24th, 2015 Barbados today article, Holding had also previously called the WICB president out for saying at the same town hall, that the former’s commitments to Skysports UK is the reason he no longer does television commentary in the Caribbean.

The WICB has been heavily criticized regularly for the handling of the declining cricket team under Cameron’s leadership – especially since the 2014 India tour pull out. Cozier and Holding, as the two leading Caribbean media personalities worldwide, have been vocal in their condemnation of Cameron.Recently for a cricket website, Holding tempered WICB’s attempts to hype the youth team winning the Under-19 world-cup.

This is not the only questionable statement Cameron and WICB officials have made however. Cozier had also noted in an article last November that Cameron had told coach Phil Simmons that he needed a “statement of commitment” from Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard before they could play the one-day or Tests format for West Indies again.

Michael Muirhead, the Chief Executive officer, told cricbuzz last month that their investigations into Simmons accusations of “outside interference” in the selection process which led to his suspension last year, found no evidence of this.

Sources close to Simmons have revealed he is also considering his legal options after seeing those comments.

Despite these cacophony of issues – the WICB continues to soldier on, but the pressure remains. At the last WICB annual general meeting on May 5th in Jamaica – all six territorial boards signed a document saying they stand with WICB in disagreeing with the CARICOM government’s position to dissolve the WICB.

Keith Mitchell and Keith Rowley, the Grenada and Trinidad & Tobago Prime Ministers respectively, though have hinted that, at the next CARICOM heads of government meeting in July in Guyana, a firm decision could me finally made.

“In July the matter comes up again in the Heads of government meeting in Guyana and hopefully by then if good sense prevails, then West Indies cricket might have a future”, Rowley said.

© Cricbuzz

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