How is it that Cricket West Indies is bringing its training camp to the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus in Barbados when it co-owns the Coolidge Ground along with the government of Antigua and Barbuda?
That is a question CWI director and president of the Barbados Cricket Association Conde Riley would like the newly elected Ricky Skerritt administration to answer. Speaking on an Antigua radio programme yesterday called Staying With The Big Issues, Riley described the move as absurd.
Riley questioned whether not using the Coolidge Cricket Ground which is worth about US$7.5 million was payback from Skerritt and his team to the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus and its professor Sir Hilary Beckles for backing the new president during his campaign for the CWI presidency.
“I am also shocked that at this juncture, we have a ground where the government of Antigua and Barbuda assisted the West Indies Cricket Board where we now have an asset [Coolidge Cricket Ground], and we are bringing a camp to Barbados to go to Cave Hill. That is preposterous! Why would you do that?
“You do not do things for doing them sake. Why would you bring a camp to Barbados where the BCA is asked to do all these things when you have the Coolidge Cricket Ground in Antigua? President Skerritt will have to answer to that. Because we saved last year two million dollars and you are going to move it to Cave Hill because Professor Beckles supported you? No. When things are wrong, Conde Riley will speak out. It makes no good sense to come to Cave Hill because Cave Hill is not providing the coaching skills. We [BCA] have to move everybody down there, and I say it is so wrong.
“Antigua is well placed, our office is there, we have the ground, we have four hundred and something parking spaces, and we are looking at it in a business plan. And you are going to bring something down to Barbados and ask the BCA to assist you? Utilize what we own because I am sure that we will have to pay the University of the West indies for the utilization of their facility when we own one in Antigua. Absolute nonsense! It borders on not being a no-brainer. I will lose the presidency of the BCA on this one, but if I was the Prime Minister of Antigua who assisted [Cricket West Indies], I would say something about this,” Riley said.
The BCA president revealed that his association was owed $2.4 million by CWI, yet the current administration sought not to utilize the cricket ground which it owned while at the same time exposing itself to unnecessary lawsuits. Former assistant bowling coach Vasbert Drakes filed a lawsuit against CWI after being fired last week.
In addition, Riley called out regional prime ministers for interfering in the business affairs of CWI.
“What upsets me, the BCA is owed $2.4 million, when you fire anybody without cause, you expose the organization of the [Cricket West Indies] to lawsuits. It is a no-brainer because all we have to do is let the thing pan itself out. But you fire everybody, coaches, selectors, everybody, and we are exposed now for firing people without cause. Now that puts another financial burden on Cricket West Indies. We are not at this time based on when our payment would come through from ICC [International Cricket Council] bidding for media rights. I run the Barbados Cricket Association along with a board. My background is in investment banking, we have a bond issue that is supposed to carry us through until we collect this money, I implore the board not to get investors nervous because we need this money.
“I was elected president at an election that had over six hundred people – a democratic process. What they are talking about is similar to what the University of the West Indies has in place, where the governments put money into the universities, open campuses and so on and then they have a council. But governments do not put money into Cricket West Indies. If you look at what CARICOM is in charge of in terms of LIAT, University of the West Indies – promise much, delivers nothing.
“All of the governments including Barbados owe the university money, and I said to a friend of mine give the guys who run West Indies cricket right now LIAT and UWI, and give these honourable prime ministers Cricket West Indies, and it will collapse. And I am saying that factually, because you look at what is going on with LIAT and look at what is going on with the University of the West Indies. They have no moral authority to come and take over West Indies Cricket. A lot of people are afraid to talk to them, but you must speak truth to power,” Riley stressed.