Caribbean politicians seeking changes to the administration of West Indies cricket have no interest in running the game, but see a need for a replacement of the game’s current management structure.
This was a position Prime Minister of Grenada, and chairman of the CARICOM Cricket Governance Subcommittee, Dr Keith Mitchell, stressed during his feature presentation of the 18th Sir Frank Worrell Memorial Lecture at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, last night.
Since a review panel led by Cave Hill Campus principal, Eudine Barriteau, had last December recommended to the CARICOM Cricket Subcommittee that the current West Indies Cricket Board be disbanded and replaced with an interim structure, there had been accusations that Mitchell’s group was seeking to have Caribbean politicians take over running of the sport.
So concerned was the Prime Minister about this assumption that he sought to dispel the idea at the beginning and the end of his just over an hour-long presentation.
“Let me make it abundantly clear to everyone that CARICOM has no desire, or intention, of getting involved in the running or day-to-day management of West Indies cricket,” he said to an audience including West Indies cricket legends, National Hero Sir Garry Sobers and Sir Wes Hall, both who support the call for the Board’s dissolution.
Stressing that regional prime ministers were busy people with enough problems and challenges already on their hands, Mitchell said: “CARICOM’s sole objective in the process of reform is to help in creating a structure and an enabling environment in which West Indies cricket can again flourish, and rise to the pinnacle of the sport.”
Explaining the interest of Caribbean politicians in the administration of West Indies cricket going the correct way, he repeated a refrain of regional people that cricket was more than a game in these parts, and that it affected the way people lived.
Having stated that regional politicians were not seeking to get their hands on Caribbean cricket, Mitchell then proceeded to give a number of reasons why his subcommittee supported dissolution of the current Board.
“You cannot have an institution where every day there is some confusion, conflict and problems and claim you’re doing the right thing as leaders,” Dr Mitchell said.
He then spoke about “long-standing antagonism” between the Board and the West Indies Players Association; the ongoing hostility between the Board and its players, and coaches; the unfriendly words between some of the leadership of the Board and some of its players on social media; the number of court cases between the board and its players, or representatives, almost all of which the Board lost; the mishandling of the situation in India that led to the abandonment of the tour; the signing of the agreement to reform the ICC that automatically resulted in loss to the WICB of US$43 million; and the suspension of head coach Phil Simmons for his comments about external interference in team selection, even though the evidence was extremely strong.
Continuing to make the case for WICB structural change, the Prime Minister said there was “the snubbing of the team during the T20 World Cup, especially after the team’s victory; the emotional comments of captain Darren Sammy at the post-match presentation; the Board’s unfortunate response to those comments; the Board’s continuing hostility towards Simmons; and the Board’s removal of Tony Cozier, one of the finest commentators this region has ever seen.”
Regarding removal of the late Cozier from the Board’s panel of commentators, Mitchell said, “the Board should hang its head in shame for the way an icon was treated.”
With the chairman of selectors Clive Lloyd among the audience in the Roy Marshall Lecture Theatre, Mitchell also criticised recent player selections.
“I cannot understand the exclusion last year of some of the best players from the World Cup team, and now the omission from the team in the upcoming tri-series tournament with Australia and South Africa.
“The inclusion of former outcast Kieron Pollard and [Sunil] Narine, and the exclusion of [Dwayne] Bravo, [Darren]Sammy, [Chris] Gayle and [Andre] Russell are quite puzzling
“In my view it smacks of hypocrisy,” he said.