Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies Professor Sir Hilary Beckles does not agree with calls for the dissolution of the West Indies Cricket Board.
In fact the former WICB director is suggesting a restructuring exercise that hopefully would see the WICB emerge “stronger, legitimate and more respected”. Sir Hilary added that such a development would be worthy of grand celebration in 2027 when the board reaches the milestone of 100 years of service to regional cricket and “Caribbean nationhood”.
Sir Hilary’s comments were contained in a letter to Barbados TODAY and came only days after an Independent Review Panel of the Caribbean Community Sub-Committee on Cricket Governance chaired by his academic colleague and principal of the UWI Cave Hill Campus, Professor Eudine Barriteau, recommended the WICB be disbanded and an interim committee installed to run the affairs of cricket in the region.
But Professor Beckles described the WICB as a cultural treasure, akin to the UWI, and suggested that any reform should take into consideration fomer Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson’s report on cricket governance.
“Old institutions, furthermore, like the WICB and The UWI, are cultural treasures within our new and emerging societies and should be preserved for posterity, but change with the times they must. This is not an easy task. Stakeholders have the right to demand their transformation but must facilitate their adaptation.
“As we enter this second phase of nation-building, a new management model for the WICB is required so that it may persist as fit for purpose. This is where we have reached. The report on cricket governance penned by the distinguished Hon. P.J. Patterson has set the tone and texture for WICB’s financial and corporate reform, and systemic governance change. It sets out a new model that is now seen more clearly as compelling,” he wrote.
Sir Hilary noted: “The University of the West Indies, as a sister regional institution, recognises and respects the long and mostly effective service of the West Indies Cricket Board since its establishment in 1927. It gave oversight to our greatest cultural global achievement as a people in which we all rejoiced during the first stage of our nation-building.
“But long established institutions are especially required to demonstrate their fitness to serve in changed circumstances. They are expected to make explicit provisions for both external review and internal self-assessment, leading generally to governance reform and operational restructuring. In all circumstances it is better when meaningful realignment and refinement are achieved so as to avoid public calls that they be dissolved.”
Sir Hilary stated that Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell in his capacity of the Chair of the CARICOM Sub-Committee, had invited Professor Barriteau to chair a Task Force intended to breathe the “final chance of life” into the campaign for urgent action. He highlighted the long and positive association which the WICB had enjoyed with the UWI and said the UWI was ready to assist in any reform of the board.
“Established 21 years after the WICB in 1948, The University of the West Indies currently has a number of mutually beneficial agreements with the WICB. These contractual engagements are valuable to us. Both students and faculty members have benefited from these relationships. How pleased we were, for example, that the Sagicor-WICB High Performance Centre was located within The UWI, and that two of our students, also graduates of the High Performance Centre, are today the captain and vice-captain of our Test team.
“The University has an open communication channel to the leadership of the WICB and has reason to believe that they are ready for a dialogue with CARICOM in respect of review and reform. We pray, however, that it is now seeing the way to implement the more far-reaching recommendations of the Patterson and Barriteau reports.
“The time has come. There is an opportunity for favourable result. To this end, The UWI places itself officially at the disposal of CARICOM and the WICB, and joins with the Hon. P.J. Patterson and Chairman Mitchell, and all stakeholders, to participate in the formal reform process,” he said.