A CARICOM cricket review panel has recommended that the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) be dissolved.
The panel, comprising principal of the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus Professor Eudine Barriteau, president of the Caribbean Court of Justice Sir Dennis Byron, president of the Grenada Cricket Association Dwain Gill, former West Indies vice-captain Deryck Murray and president of the Caribbean Development Bank Dr Warren Smith, described the current management structure of regional cricket as long obsolete and recommended that all current members resign their positions.
The five-member body also recommended the appointment of an interim board whose structure and composition would be different from the current dispensation. The proposal is for an interim board to work with a change management expert to install a new governance framework.
The report noted the measures were necessary in order to “transform and modernize the governance, management, administration and the playing of the game.”
The panel was appointed by the Prime Ministerial Committee on the Governance of West Indies Cricket, in the wake of the crisis that engulfed the board after the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) suspended bilateral ties and imposed US$42 million as damages following the Dwayne Bravo-led West Indies team’s decision to pull out midway through their India tour last year.
Over the past weeks the panel has interviewed several individuals, inclusive of the WICB management, former and current West Indies players, territorial boards and a host of other key personalities involved with the game in the region. Based on its findings, the panel concluded that the WICB’s governance model had failed to evolve and did not prioritise accountability and transparency.
“There is an inherent and as yet unresolved tension between the evolution of the game of cricket into a powerful, professionally driven, entertainment and sporting industry and a system of governance predicated on an earlier, more simplified set of requirements,” the report stated, the contents of which were made public yesterday at a media conference in Grenada.
It was revealed that WICB president Dave Cameron had indicated that the board would deliberate on the panel’s report and recommendations at the meeting of the directors on December 12 in St Lucia.
The report indicated the panel had come to its conclusions based on the state and status of West Indies cricket, which it described as being in disarray for at least 15 years. The panel highlighted a deep divide between players and administrators, constant player strikes, pay disputes, players’ loss of faith in the West Indies Players Association and the languishing of the West Indies men’s teams at the bottom of the International Cricket Council’s rankings.
The report also referenced the recent suspension of coach Phil Simmons following his allegations that the selection of the best West Indies One-Day International team for the ongoing Sri Lankan tour had been compromised by persons outside the selection panel.
At yesterday’s press conference in Grenada to announce the findings of the report, Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell who chairs the CARICOM sub-committee on cricket governance, said it was not a matter of if the recommendations would be accepted, but when. He told the press conference that at every stage of the process, the WICB supported the panel.
Fears in some quarters that the proposals and the involvement of regional governments could be flying in the face of International Cricket Council (ICC) regulations which frown on political interference in the administration of cricket in its member territories have been allayed by the panel.
The ICC’s constitution requires free and fair elections of office-bearers within member boards under its umbrella. Earlier in the year the Sri Lanka Cricket board was dissolved by the government and the Minister of Sports Navin Dissanyake subsequently appointed a nine-member interim committee to administer cricket on that island. The ICC wrote the Sri Lankan authorities informing them they would withhold financial distribution due to Sri Lanka pending an investigation into government’s interference into the running of cricket.
However, Professor Barriteau said the panel had taken the necessary diligence in crafting its recommendations to avoid such a consequence through its consultations during the ICC conference which was held in Barbados last June.
Only this week WICB board director Baldath Mahabir resigned with immediate effect citing unprofessionalism in the organization as among the factors leading to his decision.
“The WICB has been less than satisfactory in other areas. The management of the business has been unprofessional, tardy or lax in many instances, and this, coupled with the very public spats with our players – men and women – have activated an increase in the quantity and decibel counts of voices against the actions of the board,” he said.
Mahabir added that the constant criticism of the board by such a wide cross-section of West Indian society could not be very far off base.
“ . . . Six million West Indians cannot be wrong,” Mahabir said.