Conde Riley is not daunted over the possibility that Joel Garner may be entering the race for the presidency of the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) when elections are held on August 14 at Kensington Oval. On July 27, 2017, Riley was elected president of the BCA after Garner the then incumbent president did not run for the position after holding the post for ten years.
In July 2016, Garner was appointed manager of the West Indies team on a three-year contact. In the President’s Overview of the BCA Annual Report & Statement of Accounts for April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017 Garner wrote:
“My appointment as manager of the West Indies team has precluded me from executing my duties as President of the Association in the manner that I would have liked.”
After eighteen months in the post, Garner was reassigned to the role of ambassador for Cricket West Indies and Rawl Lewis took over the managerial duties of the team. Even though the towering former Barbados and West Indies fast bowler has not formally announced he will be contesting the top post in the BCA, there are indications that he will be making a bid to regain the position he help for a decade.
Riley, a retired investment banker, said he was not perturbed over speculation that Garner might be throwing his hat into the ring when the elections are called.
“Any member can run for president. It is part of the democratic process that exists within the BCA. If Joel contests the post and wins that is fine with me. My record during my tenure as president of the BCA is there for all to see, it is up to members to decide if I have done enough to be re-elected president,” a confident Riley told Barbados TODAY.
He listed his most outstanding achievement during his first term in office as settling an outstanding issue between the BCA and their lottery partner which had become quite bitter.
“Bringing resolution to a ten-year fall out with our lottery partner and getting the government to mediate in the matter has been in my view the main achievement of the Board during my first term as president. The relationship had become fairly acrimonious over the years but now it is settled, the machines have been increased and there is a new arrangement of what we will be paid from the lottery machines,” Riley said.
He pointed out that the BCA has not been receiving any money from the Government under the lease deal for Kensington Oval for over ten years. He added that following discussions the BCA has submitted a business plan to the Government and should receive some of the almost $15 million they are owed by Kensington Development Corporation.
“We have hosted and paid for a number of events for Cricket West Indies, namely the Super50 in 2018, the first Test and Two ODIs against England earlier this year. As a result we are owed a substantial amount of money by CWI. I believe it has been a major success of the Board to bring all of these financial related matters to a head, to place ourselves in a position where we are able to collect the money owed to us. In my first term, we had to basically stabilize the BCA, we were owed large sums of money by several bodies including Kensington Development Corporation, CAGE Barbados Inc., the Government, as well as Cricket West Indies. The majority of this term was spent trying to renegotiate and recover debt repayment. As a result we had to shelve our development plan but after reaching an agreement with several of our debtors, our revenue should increase between $4millon to $6 million annually. We are also expecting to receive $2.4 million owed to us by Cricket West Indies by the end of August,” Riley explained.
According to Riley, the BCA will use the injection of funds to build the long overdue indoor facility at Kensington Oval which is a leftover project from when the Oval was rebuilt in 2007 and is a key aspect of the BCA development plan.
“We need to build the indoor facility now, it must be done to make Kensington attractive to English County clubs when they are looking for venues to train before the start of their season. We are looking to build the indoor facility and market Kensington as a complete cricket facility. All of the major cricket grounds in the world have an indoor facility. Kensington Oval is regarded as the Mecca of cricket grounds in the region. I think it is fitting for us to have an indoor facility at the venue,” Riley said.
He is elated that the BCA has secured a major sponsorship deal valued at $500 000 with the Pakistan-based maker of cricket equipment, Stonehill.
“This is a big sponsorship deal for the BCA. We are going to buy high quality balls from Stonehill who will in turn supply every player in each club in the island with two pairs of white clothing and two suits of color clothing for two years. The schools will receive kit bags and helmets. This is really a major achievement. Previously, we purchased the balls and got nothing, Stonehill is going to brand the clothing and give them to the cricketers. This deal is a significant achievement and a marketing coup,” Riley said.
Other initiatives that took place during Riley’s tenure at the helm of the BCA was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Cricket Association in Argentina to help them develop their cricket. Two of their players are currently in Barbados training with the senior men’s national team and seven local players are going there later this year to assist with their coaching.
“We are also signing off on an MOU with the Cricket Legends of Barbados where they will assist us in various programmes such as mentorship and coaching which would help us develop our cricket. Several of them are already coaching in our junior programmes and our clubs, we hope to have this finalised within a couple of months,” the president said.
He explained that running for the presidency was a natural progression after serving as president of the now defunct Barclays Sports Club and being elected to the BCA’s board in 1996.
“I have always had an interest in the development of young people, my mother was teacher. I grew up fully aware of how important it is for a person to give service to their country. Cricket is a pathway to success for our young people. I feel extremely proud when I see our young cricketers being successful on the national, regional and international cricket stage. Cricket in my view is more important today than ever. We are living in a society where a lot more of our young people are acting in a deviant manner, cricket can provide them with a solid foundation in life. I have served as chairman of every committee of the BCA with the exception of marketing. I was overwhelmed by the support I got when I was elected president two years ago. Even if I am not elected president when the elections are held, I will still serve cricket,” Riley said.