ICL: Indian Cricket League

Just what is it with the West Indies Cricket Board?


Its presidents, its directors and its functionaries have, for the most part, been West Indians successful in a myriad of different endeavours and from every territory covered by its footprint. Inevitably, a few charlatans, imposters and egotists have somehow managed to wangle their way into its membership and its employ but so it is with any such organisation.

Generally, even as they change with time, it is administered by individuals with worthy credentials and a deep feeling for the game that, in more than a century, has established for itself an unrivalled reputation for quality.

Its recent presidents have been an eminent lawyer and international negotiator, a legendary fast bowler who morphed into coach, selector, team manager and government and religious minister, an all-rounder from a famous cricketing family with strong credentials as a business executive and a highly regarded media executive who was also a senator and cabinet minister. The incumbent is his country’s previous ambassador to the United Nations who can place the prefixes Hon. and Dr. before his name and almost as many letters as there are in the alphabet after it.

If its composition has changed to acknowledge the commercialisation of the game globally, the most successful of all West Indies captains and three renowned West Indies players from the eras of excellence can still be found on its directorate.

So it is difficult to comprehend why it should repeatedly make a fool, and a pauper, of itself with one flawed decision after another, the latest over the much-hyped 20/20 for US$20 million match between the Stanford Superstars and England in Antigua on November 1.

Perhaps it became all fogged over by the guaranteed cheque for US$3.5 million it would receive annually for five years for doing nothing more than providing the necessary sanction, as a full member of the International Cricket Council (ICC), for the Super Series extravaganza. It had already been sweetened by the US$2 million licence Stanford pays for recognition of his regional 20/20 tournament.

Even so, someone around the table should have woken up their colleagues to reality by thumping the table and telling them that they better look first at their sponsorship agreement with Digicel. If they did, they were either completely ignored or overridden by unsound legal advice.

Whatever, the WICB now faces a hefty bill for costs as well as widespread and justifiable demands for resignations after the London Court of International Arbitration (LICA) upheld Digicel’s case that the WICB had entered an agreement which “wholly compromises the exclusive rights granted to Digicel as principal sponsors of West Indies cricket”.

Of course, no resignations will be forthcoming. Admitting blame and taking the consequences is not part of the West Indian ethos as reference to the outcome of any one of the innumerable political commissions of inquiries in any Caribbean country attests. Since, given all the evidence, governmental intervention, as often suggested, would lead to even more chaos, change has to come from within, from those directors embarrassed enough to understand the damage such continuing ineptness is inflicting on the game it is specifically mandated to protect and bold enough to push for reform.

This calls for no additional expense or intellectual effort. All that is required is for a couple of reports to be taken down from whatever shelf they have been confined to at the WICB office in St John’s and their proposals dovetailed and implemented.

The first, headed by Teddy Griffith (later to become president), was commissioned by the WICB as far back as 1992 to “devise a strategic plan covering the board’s operations over the next five years”.

The second, under PJ Patterson, the former Jamaican prime minister, was far more recent and its terms appreciably more comprehensive. Its charge was “to examine the structure and offer recommendations as to the possible future of West Indies cricket”. The Patterson committee spent months traversing the Caribbean, soliciting ideas seemingly from any organisation or anyone troubled by the faltering fortunes of West Indies cricket, putting them together and arriving at its recommendations.

The report is a weighty document, something like 140 foolscap pages. It was presented to the WICB early in the year but, perhaps because of its length and its somewhat ponderous language, it has not had much of an airing.

For its part, the WICB has basically ignored it, no doubt because it would rock its boat, even though that boat is now close to capsizing. Its main points are that the name and the structure of the WICB be changed, “to give the organisation a new image and also to indicate explicitly that it will no longer be business as usual”. It did not underline and capitalise the last eight words. It should have.

It recommended Cricket West Indies be run by a Cricket West Indies Council and a Cricket West Indies Board. The size of the Council would be “about 23 members drawn from a wide cross-section of stakeholders”, meeting once a year “to review the state of West Indies cricket based upon a report covering all aspects of the game and its management”.

“It will assess the way forward and indicate to the executive management what steps need to be taken to achieve the strategic goals of the organisation,” it added.

The Council would appoint the president, vice-president and, other than those appointed by the territorial boards, the executive directors of the Board that would have the responsibility for the executive management of day-to-day affairs. Apart from the president and vice-president, there would be 13 other directors. Six would be nominated by the territorial boards, half as many as at present. They would be joined by a cricket director (appointed on the basis of nominations from the territorial boards, past players, the West Indies Players Association), a director representing CARICOM, one chosen from WIPA nominations and three appointed for their “special expertise in operational areas”. The directorate would be completed by the chief executive officer.

The Patterson Report stressed that the Board should not micro-manage Cricket West Indies but simply decide on measures and policies to be implemented and leave the implementation to the Secretariat. These are not earth-shattering, revolutionary proposals but they represent what everyone who met with Patterson and his colleagues, Sir Alister McIntrye and Dr Ian McDonald — and just as many who didn’t — know full well. That’s a shake-up is urgently needed.

So what has the WICB done?

It is planning “a major West Indies cricket stakeholders conference” early next year. Its theme is “Vision of Success” and is meant to “provide stakeholders an opportunity to make inputs into the future direction of West Indies cricket”. So was that not precisely what the Patterson committee diligently did in compiling its thorough report, commissioned by the said WICB?

It is no wonder that there is a body of opinion that, if this dysfunctional organisation can’t get itself into order, the whole thing should be turned over to Stanford and Digicel to run and let’s be done with it. —Trinidad & Tobago Express
Source:Cricket News

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This entry was posted on Monday, October 13th, 2008 and is filed under General, Cricket.

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