Chairman of CARICOM’s subcommittee on cricket, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, has identified the unification of the Caribbean cricket community and the implementation of governance reforms as the two pressing issues before new Cricket West Indies president, Ricky Skerritt.
Speaking in the wake of the change in leadership atop the regional governing body, Gonsalves said Skerritt and new vice-president, Dr Kishore Shallow, had campaigned on a visionary 10-point Cricket First Plan, and it was now important to first bridge the gaps between stakeholders and also lay out a timetable for the restructuring of the CWI framework.
Gonsalves also agreed with Trinidad and Tobago counterpart, Prime Minister Keith Rowley, on the need for a regional consultation to urgently discuss the state of the game and the way forward.
“The election represents the moment of and for change in West Indies cricket – change for the better,” the veteran St Vincent and the Grenadines leader told a Barbados radio cricket programme.
“It’s about personalities but far more than personalities, it’s about processes and an agenda for reform. They outlined in their 10-point plan an agenda for reform and I expect they will stick to their manifesto.
“I think one of the first things they have to do is to unite the whole of the cricketing family in the West Indies. They have to go to all the stakeholders in the various countries – the respective boards, players, the governments and other interested parties including territorial boards who didn’t vote for them. So that’s very important – to stamp unity on the West Indies cricket.”
He continued: “There is this organic link between them and the players – the men’s and women’s teams in all the different formats. They have to make sure they (teams) have the right staff and so on because we have a very important World Cup fixture coming up.”
CWI governance reform has been a sticking point for CARICOM in recent years, and it was their insistence on such which led to a frayed relationship between the two bodies.
And Gonsalves said the regional consultation proposed by Rowley would be an excellent starting point, and should be facilitated in a manner to ensure it was as productive as possible.
“The next order of business – and it can be done simultaneously because you can walk and chew gum at the same time – is to signal a timetable for reforms and for some major activities,” Gonsalves pointed out.
“I know Prime Minister Rowley who was very dissatisfied with the Dave Cameron administration has already talked about the summit. I think though we need to prepare well for the summit. There are persons who are talking about you can’t hold the summit too quickly – that’s not my concern.
“My concern is that we prepare well for it with all the stakeholders so it doesn’t become a continuing university seminar. That we can have a good succinct analysis as to what is happening, where we’re going wrong and some of the things we can put right, and some things which are immediate and some things which are longer term, medium term, and you have a work plan to achieve these particular objectives.”
Gonsalves advised the new leadership to be patient in their planning and execution, and to be inclusive in their approach.
“You have to have a buy-in from everybody in the region in doing what you’re doing and we can in the process restore West Indies cricket to its former glory,” said Gonsalves.
“It’s going to take some time. We have a pool of good players, persons with skills but we have to make sure those skills are properly honed and that the mind and the body are in sync.”
Skerritt and Shallow pulled off a stunning victory in CWI leadership elections last Sunday in Jamaica when they toppled three-term incumbents, Dave Cameron and vice-president Emmanuel Nanthan by 8-4 margins.
The challengers gained the backing of prominent members of the cricket community including the likes of Clive Lloyd, Sir Vivian Richards and Sir Andy Roberts.
Gonsalves praised Skerritt as “accomplished academically” and with wide-ranging experience stemming from business to the public sector while noting that Shallow, the SVG Cricket Association president, possessed “youthful enthusiasm but has a very mature head on his shoulders”.
Gonsalves said he believed the pair would “modernise West Indies cricket and deepen accountability” and importantly, gain the support of CARICOM.
“I think there is a lot of goodwill for them. One of Dave’s weaknesses in leadership was the dividing of people in them against us and we don’t need to do that,” said Gonsalves.
“We have to be more soothing and together and I know the Heads [of Government] those who are interested in cricket would very much want to work very well with them.” (CMC)