September 18, 2020

Only the media, players and Caribbean people can save cricket from the inept WICB


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West-Indies-Cricket-Board1From Stabroek News

Dear Editor,

After reading with interest the comments and opinions of various distinguished West Indian personalities on the subject of West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) governance woes, I feel obliged to add my views. Apparently the recent withdrawal of the players from the Indian cricket tour along with the unethical reversal of WICB’s agreement not to victimize those players proved to be the final straw that broke the back of even the die-hard, always forgiving, West Indian cricket populace. Enough is enough, for in spite of all the explanations from the WICB, their action reeks of malice.

Tony Cozier, Tony Becca, Pat Rousseau, Charles Wilkins and Dr Ralph Gonsalves, among others, have severely criticized the Dave Cameron led administration, or rather mal-administration, for destroying West Indies cricket. The President himself seemed to be the target for his attitude of continued arrogance and lofty insolence.

Mr Cozier and the others have all made serious, constructive contributions which in my view should have been made some years ago when the ‘WICB private club’ was initiated by then President of WICB, Dr Julian Hunte, and payment of directors fees/salaries was instituted, with the lawlessness of perks for votes. The supposed annual cricket development disbursements were carefully utilized as inducements for favours from directors of territorial boards since (in Guyana) no monitoring of the funds was done and consequently no development of cricketers or cricket ensued.

The Berbice Cricket Board, the East Coast Cricket Board and the Georgetown Cricket Association have been organizing their cricket and producing cricketers for the past five or six years without a penny from the GCB, which is the recipient of all funds disbursed by the WICB. An investigation of the East Bank Demerara, West Demerara and Essequibo Cricket Boards would easily highlight that no development has happened within those areas. So where have the development funds been utilized? President Cameron and his directors which include Guyanese must explain.

Meanwhile President Cameron promoted his ‘private club’ to a higher level by giving to the directors of the WICB private ownership of the so-called Regional Professional/ Franchise Cricket for the four-day and fifty-over versions. The directors are being paid US$45,000 per territory per month to run the franchise as their own private businesses.

It is amazing that the WICB would pay individuals to run a franchise, which certainly is not the case with the T/20 tournament, where the owners paid for their franchise.

Checks at the court registry show that the WICB directors and their associates own the Guyana Cricket Board by changing the previously illegally-registered DEB essentials to the present Cricket Guy Inc.

Why have they been allowed to get away with this farce whilst the following level of inefficiency and lawlessness continue:

The Cricket Academy has been improperly set up, with no territorial satellite stations and therefore cannot serve the current needs of our cricketers/cricket.
There is still no school cricket relationship between the WICB and the territorial authorities, despite years of promises.
Our youth cricket programme is still in a mess with the youngsters being denied the opportunity to play enough competitive cricket.
(a) The 2014 Regional U-15 Cricket Tournament was reduced from a two-day to a one-day affair.

(b) The 2014 Regional U-19 Cricket Tournament saw six teams being divided into two zones with the winner of each zone playing off in the final.

(c) There is no youth cricket tournament for women.

Ladies cricket does not benefit from any domestic tournaments in the various territories and the Regional Ladies Tournament is a lacklustre, poorly-organized appeasement.

The promotion and organization of the professional league/regional tournaments have been poorly initiated, badly structured and improperly implemented, with the respective territorial directors running the tournament with WICB funds while they earn the dividends (profits), all in an atmosphere of secrecy with the public being kept in dark.

The continued disbursement of development funds to territorial boards when there is no proper development programme or monitoring of funds disbursed lacks any serious accountability and smacks of corruption.

The recruitment of a highly paid cricket supremo who seems too lazy to visit the various territorial bodies – particularly Guyana (as far as I know), where there has been ongoing cricket turbulence for the past five years, and where eight of the thirteen-member Guyana Cricket Board executives, accused the minority (5) of administrative lawlessness and fraudulent elections, among other misdemeanours.
Following this one of the eight executives was burnt in the face with acid after a stormy executive meeting. The allegations were then properly documented and circulated widely to all including ICC, WICB territorial boards, Caricom, the media, the Guyana Government opposition parties, etc, but despite every effort not a single voice of concern was offered. All cries fell on deaf ears, and although they constituted the majority of the GCB executives, the WICB only recognized their five friends. Friendship took precedence over principle. All it required was for the WICB to mount an impartial investigation but no one seemed to care, until after two years when the Government of Guyana eventually intervened.

I make the point to illustrate the fact that a six-wheeled coach (like the WICB) could never function properly and effectively if three, two or even one of its wheels is broken. It is necessary to keep all of its wheels functional. We must be our brother’s keeper; insularity and greed must be eradicated from our cricket.

With the spiteful withdrawal of cricket from Guyana by the WICB, Dominica and Barbados gleefully accepted the games totally unmindful of the harm it was doing to the people of Guyana and the young cricketers particularly. Unless and until we could call a ‘spade a spade’ as Dr Gonsalves recently told media personalities, cricket cannot prosper. One must be able to look the other in the eye and tell him or her when he or she is wrong.

As I said before the major woes of our cricket began within the reign of Dr Hunte, but were taken to a greater height of insolence and inefficiency by a group of power-drunk directors who do not even understand their role in the activity and the responsibility of developing West Indies cricket. Dr Gonsalves surprisingly seemed not to have noticed the problems during his countryman Dr Hunte’s reign. It might also have missed Mr Cozier’s notice at other times when he was in the broadcasting booth communicating on cricket. Nonetheless, I whole-heartedly agree with and accept their expressions of concern and strongly feel that the players are not wholly to be blamed for the Indian tour withdrawal. The WICB must take the blame as they have displayed a high level of irresponsibility and a callous attitude towards the Caribbean people. They manage players from the U-15 level to the Test level and therefore the players are ultimately what the WICB produce.

Their handling of the entire matter of the Indian tour is akin to bullyism, which is unheard of in any modern, decent arena of treatment of persons by a parent body.

I unequivocally submit and support the call for President Cameron and his entire Board of Directors to resign immediately, or be dismissed and ostracized by the entire Caribbean people. Alternatively they could proceed to Tortola “where the WICB was incorporated” and practise their vengeance management there. After all it is time for us to take back our cricket from this incompetent group of directors who are just as culpable as their leader, Dave Cameron, whom they blindly support.

After they are removed I recommend that the leaders of the six territories along with Caricom representatives come together and appoint an interim body to oversee the restructuring and reorganizing of the WICB and the territorial boards.

After all, since we have decided to rebuild our on-field WI cricket team, we should also rebuild our inefficient cricket administration at the same time thereby making a fresh start.

Suggested names could include Clive Lloyd, Deryck Murray, Courtney Walsh, Desmond Haynes, Noman Mclean, Darren Ganga, Andy Roberts, Anand Goolsarran, Donna Simmons, Sir Vivian Richards, Clyde Butts, Dinanath Ramnarine, PJ Patterson, Ann John-Brown and Tony Cozier.

Our cricket is experiencing its worst ever period. Only the media, the players and the Caribbean people as a whole could save our beloved game from the present inept WICB.

Yours faithfully,
Claude Raphael
Former Director


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