It must have been a very moving moment for the new top two of the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA), Conde Riley and Calvin Hope, following the 15th Special meeting at the Hilton Hotel Thursday night.
After all, if just by coincidence, both veteran BCA Board members were the only candidates to twice challenge immediate past president Joel “Big Bird” Garner, the outstanding former Barbados captain and West Indies fast bowler, who held the post for the past decade.
Now the 64-year-old Riley and Hope, who captained the Barbados Under-19 team in 1975 and 1976 after first representing the side at the age of 15, occupy the pivotal positions in a significantly reduced Board of Management from 14 to nine.
Riley, who had his first taste of serving on the BCA Board way back in 1996, had a resounding win over his two opponents. He swept to 284 votes with Erskine King (84) and Deighton Smith (80) as the other contenders.
In the last administration, Smith served as First vice-president, while King was the Third vice-president.
Hope is the new vice-president. He earned 170 votes, Roland Butcher (118), Maurice Gaskin (107) and Kamal Springer (37).
Gaskin was the Second vice-president on the last Board.
There is also a new secretary in Gregory Nicholls (172). The other contenders were outgoing secretary Anthea Ishmael (142) and Winston Stafford (112).
Nicholls had served in a similar role between 2007 and 2013.
Jason King retained his position as treasurer after Patricia Greenidge withdrew.
The five members to serve on the Board are Timothy Boyce (163), Winston Stafford (143), Roland Butcher (129), Hartley Reid (92) and newcomer Evril “Betty” Lewis-Browne (90).
The others in contention were Patricia Greenidge (86), Erskine King (78), Ignatius Marshall (69), Kamal Springer (60), Dennis DePeiza (48) and Pearson Leacock (six).
Garner is now manager of the West Indies team on a three-year contract. He was at the meeting Thursday night and left the island this evening with the second batch of the West Indies squad for a three-Test series in England. The other players and officials departed here last evening for London.
For Riley, it would have been a very busy last 24 hours as he left for Antigua this morning for a one-day Human Resources committee meeting of Cricket West Indies (CWI). He is chairman of that committee.
Thursday night’s attendance was arguably the largest in the last ten years.
And in the last two decades, the biggest election was unquestionably that of October 12, 1999 at what was then the 65th annual general meeting at Sherbourne Conference Centre. The showdown was between the former West Indies opening batsman Sir Conrad Hunte and K.H.L. “Tony” Marshall, who had been the president for the previous three years.
With both candidates having massive campaigns including full-page ads in the daily newspapers, Hunte won by 23 votes (337-314), while Stephen Alleyne became the First vice-president with a whopping victory over Keith Simmons (404-194).
Sadly, Hunte died of a massive heart attack in Sydney, Australia on December 3 the same year at the age of 67.
Another intriguing battle for the top post was on August 4, 2005 when Marshall beat Alleyne 306 to 293.
That was an election, which resulted in First vice-president David Holford also losing his post to fellow former West Indies player, Desmond Haynes, who was contesting the poll for the first time. Haynes gained 347 votes to Holford’s 258.
Two other established members of the Board also lost their seats at that election. Third vice-president Jeff Broomes was beaten by Garner (368-234), while honorary secretary Philip Nicholls was taken out by floor member Vernon Williams (342-256).
Garner’s reign as president was very interesting. With Marshall not standing for re-election, Garner defeated Hope 173-133 on July 19, 2007 after former BCA secretary Basil Matthews withdrew from the contest at the fifth Special meeting at Sherbourne Conference Centre (later renamed Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre).
In the next election on July 30, 2009 at Kensington Oval, Garner was unchallenged.
Garner swept to a landslide win over Hope on August 4, 2011 at Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre. He gained 148 votes, while Hope managed just 49.
Riley stepped up and challenged Garner on August 14, 2013 with the Sandiford Centre again being the venue. Garner triumphed 166 to 121.
At that election, Riley also lost his position as First vice-president to Deighton Smith after two other contenders, Gregory Nicholls and Calvin Hope, withdrew.
Smith won 145 votes to 136.
Then on August 27, 2015, in yet another setting at the Sandiford Centre, Garner overcame Riley 127 to 101.
Interestingly at that election, Smith was retained as First vice-president, beating Hope 121-109.
In relation to Thursday night’s success, Riley spoke frankly in a wide-ranging interview, which I had with him.
“To be honest, I thought it would have been a tougher fight because the other two gentlemen have been around sport from school days but it seems as though the membership felt that I had demonstrated the passion, commitment and dedication to the organisation and hence their overwhelming support,” Riley said.
“I attribute my success to 21 years of service during which I built up a curriculum vitae, which the members recognised and felt I was the best person to lead the organisation after Joel.
“I would like to thank past presidents in Tony Marshall, the late Stephen Alleyne and the outgoing Joel Garner in particular, who gave me a free hand to execute the initiatives on the various committees I chaired.”
Asked about his immediate objectives, Riley said: “I would like a club audit to establish the needs of our clubs and providing an accredited Level 2 coach for our nursery and secondary schools, for those schools which do not have such a coach.
“As you are aware, the Armstrong building was earmarked for an indoor facility at the time of the World Cup 2007. The plans were drawn and planning permission given but that was shelved.
“It is currently being used by the Ministry of Sport while the gymnasium undergoes repairs. As soon as the gymnasium is completed, I would like to build out the indoor facility, which will add to our cricket development product. It will also make Kensington a more attractive venue for English Counties.”
Riley said he also anticipated a good working relationship with the new BCA Board.
“I have worked with all of the current members of the new Board, with the exception of Ms. Browne, so it should not be too difficult to secure their cooperation.
“I have always been accessible to the Media and nothing will change.”
That last statement is spot on. The Media will love Conde.
Patience is a virtue. Now the Cs are finally in control of the BCA.
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. Email: Keithfholder@gmail.com