Mixing the bitter with the sweet can be very hilarious.
Never in my wildest dreams did I believe that I would be such a “champion” in writing about Dwayne Bravo in last week’s column.
So as a fellow Libran, I am inviting the chirpy Trinidad & Tobago and West Indies all-rounder to add a couple verses to his popular song with the words – Keith Holder a champion, Stephon Nicholas a champion, Trinidad & Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB) a champion, along with all of those who either praised or blasted me on the various websites and social media.
In my opinion, Sports Editor Stephon Nicholas wrote the most interesting story in the Trinidad & Tobago Newsday on October 11, under the headline “Just Play Ball”.
I quote: “Over the weekend, the TTCB sent out an email under the heading “Big Bird Slams Bravo” which carried a link to a story published in Barbados TODAY entitled: ‘Time to move on from the Dwayne Bravos’.
“The article, written by Keith Holder, criticised Bravo for leading “a pull-out midway through the tour of India over player-payment issues” but fails to mention that the very Task Force commissioned by the WICB to investigate the circumstances surrounding the scandalous incident in October 2014 found the WICB and West Indies Players Association (WIPA) principally culpable for what transpired and not the players.
“Holder also described Bravo as “mischievous” for his comments on the disarray the Twenty20 team was during their recent series against Pakistan which they lost 0-3, stating he is batting like “a desperate T20 player knowing that his international career is virtually over.”
“Whatever Holder’s sentiments are, whether right or wrong, he is entitled to his opinions but what is the TTCB motive behind sending this article to all its media contacts? Can you envisage the Lakers administration promoting an article last season saying Kobe should retire? Will the Argentina FA send to its media contacts an article Lionel Messi cost them the Copa America and the World Cup finals?
“It brings to memory the actions of WICB president Dave Cameron who got into hot water during the 2015 World Cup for re-tweeting a fan’s criticism of Chris Gayle during an actual game.
“Bravo has made the TTCB a lot of money. The 33-year-old all-rounder was part of the 2009 Red Force team that reached the final of the Twenty20 Champions League, finishing with the most wickets in the tournament as TT lost a heart-breaking final to New South Wales Blues. The team received $1.3 million for their second place finish.
“In 2011 and 2013, Bravo represented the Chennai Super Kings at the same competition instead of the Red Force with BCCI rules stating that the TTCB were entitled to US$150,000 compensation each time.
“The TTCB has not had the best of relations with Bravo, Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine, Rayad Emrit and Denesh Ramdin of late but surely being an accessory to the attack on one of its greatest ever players and a former captain of the red, white and black is not necessary.
“Large sums of money in the T20 format has given players a sense of independence which sometimes spill into arrogance as the regional cricketer admitted and with no party compromising, the centre cannot hold and things fall apart.
“The WICB has shown that it is stubborn enough to destroy the only successful West Indies team – its T20 – if players or even its coach do not conform.
“The TTCB’s mission statement is “to develop and sustain cricket as the most successfully organised sport in Trinidad & Tobago and the National team as the best in the West Indies, in collaboration with its players, which shows that they recognise the importance of its main asset.
“It’s now left for them to treat them as such and perhaps pave the way for improved player-board relations at the West Indies level.”
Stephon, I appreciate the information which you have shared as I was unaware of the TTCB sending my article to all of its media contacts.
I, however, need to respond to at least one of my critics, Casiba, whoever he or she is.
Casiba wrote: “He is an establishment guy from the old colonial cloth. Nobody needs to read or listen to Keith Holder. Anyone in BARBADOS who keeps on referring to “Alma Mater” is a total clown. On his Facebook page Leslie Lett rips Keith Holder. Keith supports WICB to a fault. His comments incense me.”
Well, Casiba, I think you and Leslie Lett are living in colonial times or you only read my columns when you believe they are attacking players like Bravo.
In the circumstances, I will share with you a sample of my criticism of the WICB over the years. The following was written in my column of January 8, 2016 under the headline “More WICB PR blunders”.
“Despite all of the “pretty” press releases relating to the fixtures and coverage of the 2016 NAGICO Super50 Championship, which started yesterday, the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) disappointed fans with its mind-boggling public relations.
“It is high time for the foolishness to stop.
“If Wycliffe “Dave” Cameron, the haughty WICB president and his fellow Jamaican Michael Muirhead, who is the Chief Executive Officer, cannot get the Operations department to run properly from its headquarters in Antigua, then fire the staff and also resign.
“There is total disrespect for media personnel and by extension cricket fans in the region when it comes to critical matters. Dementia appears to afflict Factory Road.
“After waiting patiently for the itinerary for the NAGICO Championship, the WICB first released it on December 11 under the headline “Expanded format for 2016 Tournament”.
“For accuracy and the benefit of those who were not privy to the release, here is what it stated.
“Co-hosts Trinidad & Tobago Red Force are expected to face a typically stiff challenge when they open their defence of an expanded NAGICO Super50 Tournament against Combined Campuses & Colleges Marooners at Queen’s Park Oval in Port-of-Spain, the capital of their two-island republic.
“The West Indies Cricket Board announced today the schedule for the Tournament which opens on Thursday, January 7 in Trinidad and St. Kitts. It will again be contested between eight teams, comprising the six territorial franchises, as well as the Marooners and an ICC Americas composite side.
“In the other first round matches, Barbados Pride meet ICC Americas; Guyana, last season’s beaten finalists, tackle Windward Islands Volcanoes, and Leeward Islands Hurricanes host Jamaica Scorpions.
“The preliminary competition will be played under a non-elimination format with the eight teams equally divided into two groups. Each side is carded to play six matches apiece during the preliminary rounds, with each playing the others in their group twice.
“The top two teams from each group advance to the semi-finals at Queen’s Park Oval, where the group winners play the runners-up from the runners-up from the opposite group in a one-off match for a place in the Grand Final on Sunday, January 24, at the same venue.
“This equals a total of 27 matches for the biggest, senior regional domestic 50-overs-a-side tournament ever staged by the WICB.
“Group “A” which will be played in Trinidad comprises Red Force, Marooners, Pride and ICC Americas, a pre-selected group of the best players in the Western Hemisphere outside of the WICB territories plus eight players that advanced from a player combine held in September in the American city of Indianapolis.
“Group “B” which will be played in St. Kitts, consists of the Jaguars, as well as the Scorpions, Volcanoes and Hurricanes.”
It was a brilliant release, accompanied by a Match schedule with starting times.
Suddenly, Lockhart Sebastien, the long-standing team manager of the Windward Islands and himself a former first-class player, who has never been afraid to speak his mind and expose the ills of the WICB – even if he is the West Indies team manager in waiting to replace Richie Richardson – noticed that it was folly to place two developmental teams, CCC and ICC Americas, in the same group.
A great exponent of the media and one who I recall even during his playing days would be glued to a radio to follow cricket commentaries once he was off the field,
Sebastien did an excellent job in highlighting the ineptness of the WICB’s Operations department. He should have been immediately confirmed as the next West Indies team manager.”
So to Casiba and others who parade on social media, thanks for your comments. I also suggest that you closely examine the column by Stephon Nicholas in the Trinidad & Tobago Newsday.
Keith Holder is a veteran, award-winning freelance sports journalist, who has been covering local, regional and international cricket since 1980 as a writer and commentator. He has compiled statistics on the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) Division 1 (now Elite) championship for three-and-a-half decades and is responsible for editing the BCA website (www.bcacricket.org). Holder is also the host of the cricket Talk Show, Mid Wicket, on the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation 100.7 FM on Tuesday nights. Keithfholder@gmail.com