While reflecting on the first One-Day International between West Indies and England, which the latter won by six wickets at Kensington Oval on Wednesday, cricket fans would have also turned their attention to the news that former West Indies team manager Ricky Skerritt will be challenging Dave Cameron for the presidency of Cricket West Indies (CWI).
And based on what was revealed in yesterday’s press release and listening to Skerritt on Sportsmax after whispers of his intention to unseat Cameron had been bandied around for the past few weeks, the March 24 elections in Cameron’s home country of Jamaica could be very interesting.
Skerritt, 62, who hails from St. Kitts, will have Dr. Kishore Shallow, the president of the St. Vincent & Grenadines Cricket Association Inc., as his running mate.
The 35-year-old Shallow will be seeking to become vice-president. Emmanuel Nanton of Dominica holds that post.
Both candidates’ nominations were supported by the Leeward Islands Cricket Board and Trinidad & Tobago Cricket Board.
Skerritt and Shallow have created a robust ten-point “Cricket First” plan which identifies the strategies needed to regain global competitiveness and dominance.
If successful, Skerritt has promised to immediately seek the reallocation of resources currently used for centralized activities to CWI, to where it matters most with local grassroots cricket, coaching development and the territorial governing bodies.
The 10-point “Cricket First” Plan includes a creation of a cricket-centric organizational culture, optimum use of technology for greater effectiveness, increased investment in grassroots cricket, enhancement of the franchise system, modernization of coaching education, increased exposure for Under-23 and Under-19 players, re-evaluation of system of team selection, repair of stakeholder relations, decentralization of High Performance system and utilization of regional technical expertise.
Skerritt also expressed strong opposition to recent moves to create an ‘executive status’ for the elected office of the CWI president.
“After six years as president, Dave Cameron’s intention to implement sweeping changes to the democratic process of decision-making within West Indies cricket is troubling. His desire to lead CWI as a full-time executive, is not reflective of the West Indies cricket ethos,” Skerritt said in a statement.
“By advancing his plans for an autocratic leadership structure, which marginalises the role of commercially recruited executives, the incumbent has placed his personal thinking diametrically opposed to the values of West Indies cricket”.
It was also revealed that Skerritt and Shallow will propose a six-year term limit on the presidency.
“I am convinced that a presidential term limit will remove much of the uncertainty and anxiety caused by the cricket politics and excesses that too often surround the office of president,” Dr. Shallow said.
There are six member territories of CWI with two votes each.
Cameron and Nanthan are both seeking a fourth term. They were last challenged in 2015 when elections were held in Jamaica as well.
On that occasion, Cameron defeated former West Indies fast bowler Joel Garner, then the president of the Barbados Cricket Association, 8-4, while Nanthan also won by the same margin over Baldath Mahabir of Trinidad & Tobago.
In an interview today, Cameron described Skerritt’s challenge as “interesting”.
“It demonstrates that we do have a democratic process. If you want to help West Indies cricket then there is an opportunity for everyone to serve,” he said.
As it stands, there could be some intrigue. Apart from the Leeward Islands and Trinidad & Tobago, Skerritt is likely to gain support from Jamaica and hopefully the Windward Islands.
It is widely expected that Barbados and Guyana will back Cameron.
On the field, after setting a new record for the number of sixes in a One-Day International, West Indies let themselves down in the field on Wednesday.
It was entertaining to see 23 sixes smashed in a total of 360 for eight off 50 overs with veteran Chris Gayle hitting his 24th ODI century.
But on a pitch tailor-made for batting, being smart with the ball was a key ingredient.
West Indies dropped at least five catches and variation among the pacers was lacking as England, spurred by centuries from Jason Roy and Joe Root, triumphed with eight balls to spare.
“We just didn’t hold our chances and the chances we put down were crucial,” said West Indies captain Jason Holder. “Our bowlers did create opportunities, but we didn’t hold them.
Holder went further.
“We’ve got to be a little clearer with our bowling plans. We bowled quite a few loose deliveries and we can tighten up with that. But I thought our combination was right; we’ve just got to hold our chances. If you drop quality players like Roy and Root and Jonny Bairstow then they make you pay.
“We’ve got to be a bit better in the field. I felt the energy and body language could have been a lot better. That would give the bowlers some momentum to work with.”
Both teams played four seamers and apart from Ben Stokes, who took three for 37 off eight overs for an economy rate of 4.63 and Chris Woakes, with two for 59 off ten overs (ER: 5.90), all of the others conceded more than six runs an over.
What one saw, especially from Stokes, was the clever use of the slower delivery.
This five-match series is expected to give West Indies a guide for the selection of the squad for the World Cup in England in a few months.
Gayle has said he will retire from ODIs after the World Cup and his innings of 135, following an early escape on nine and a relatively slow start, showed that he still has it in him to deliver.
He struck three fours and 12 sixes in his 129-ball knock, albeit there were as many as 65 dot balls. It is an area the critics will be anxious to pounce on, strengthening their arguments about his lack of scampering singles and twos.
While there is some merit in such assertions, one should also make a broad assessment of the batsmen.
Debutant John Campbell scored 30 off 28 balls, Shai Hope made 64 off 65 balls, Darren Bravo (40 off 30), Shimron Hetmyer (20 off 15), Holder (16 off 12) and Ashley Nurse (25 not out off only eight).
Here is Holder’s assertion.
“Credit to our batters,” he said. “We had enough runs. I thought Chris played a really good innings. He took a bit of time upfront, got himself set and then put pressure back on the spinners in the middle and forced Eoin Morgan to bring back the seamers back a bit earlier. I felt he held the innings together and gave other batters a chance to express themselves.”
Credit must be given to the England batsmen, who paced the innings intelligently.
For example, Player of the Match Roy scored 123 off 85 balls including 15 fours and three sixes while Root made 102 off 97 deliveries with nine fours.
Morgan got 65 off 51 balls containing four fours and three sixes and Bairstow 34 off 33 balls.
The England batting is strong and the West Indies bowling is expected to be put to the test for the rest of the series.
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 over three-and-a-half decades and is responsible for editing the BCA website (www.bcacricket.org). Email: Keithfholder@gmail.com