Conde Riley’s tenure as president of the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) is under serious threat from a familiar face.
Retired West Indies great and former BCA president Joel ‘Big Bird’ Garner says the BCA is in dire need of leadership and as a result he says that he will be challenging Riley for the presidency at the association’s 17th Special Meeting slated for Kensington Oval on August 14.
Garner who served as president of the BCA for ten years, resigned from the position in 2017 after he was appointed manager of the West Indies team in July 2016 for three years.
In February 2018, Cricket West Indies (CWI) announced that Garner was to become an ambassador of CWI and would be the spearhead of the Windies Foundation which was established to help fund grassroots, community and club cricket within the region. Former Windward Islands and West Indies leg-spinner Rawl Lewis replaced Garner as manager of the West Indies team.
“The association needs leadership, it does not have leadership at the moment. I think we have to get back to the point where the BCA is considered to be the leading association in West Indies’ cricket again. Quite a few members have asked me to run again as president or come back to the board to assist cricket in Barbados and that is why I am here,” Garner said in a radio interview over the weekend.
The towering iconic cricketer said when he became manager of the West Indies cricket team he was informed that his involvement with Barbados cricket had to end.
“I had to make a choice either to be the manager of the West Indies team or the president of the BCA, at that time I thought I would be able to help the cricketers at the top but when I got to the job, it was one of cricket operations. My role did not include any involvement with the team, therefore the job was not what I thought it would be,” he explained.
Garner said during his tenure the BCA unveiled a development plan, and a strategic plan was put in place and the association was reorganized.
“When I left it was only a matter of implementing the new development plan, we also had a new marketing plan. I don’t think that the association has gone in the direction that I would have wanted it to go. People looked at the BCA as one of the better-run associations and used some of our plans. We even shared our development plan with some of the other territorial boards which was a plus because we were helping them to build and develop their cricket. If you look at the strategic plan it had three or four years life that could have improved the development and management of cricket. Right now I don’t think they have been sticking to the plan, the first thing that must be done is to have a review and get the cricket back on track,” Garner said.
He stressed that the BCA as an entity had a chief executive officer who should be the face of the organization.
“The president and the board set policy, they are not the be all or the end all of Barbados’ cricket. A lot of decisions are made in the office. The board is there to assist not to manage the office. Part of the problem is that the board members want to go into the office and run it. This is where the confusion arises. The CEO is the person in charge of the office and anyone who is seeking information should go to the CEO. The problem we have got is that board members feel they should be in the office on a daily basis,” Garner said.
When asked if he were elected to the post of president of the BCA what of kind relationship he envisaged he would have with Ricky Skerritt, the current president of CWI, Garner said he was willing to work with anyone.
“I don’t have problem working anyone, I have had good working relationship with everybody as far as I am concerned. Some people think they must toe a particular line. I have never toed any kind of line in my life. We can’t just jump into somebody’s back pocket because we are friends with them. I think that everybody is given a brain and should be able to think for themselves and look at the issues and make decisions based on how the issues are put to them. At the end of the day I am not going to be a blind supporter of anybody,” he stated.
According to Garner, members of different territorial boards have been asking him when he was going to seek to rejoin the board. The former fearsome pacer attributed this to their recognition of the contribution he made when he served as a director of CWI.
“ They recognize that I made contribution on cricket at the table, I did not go there to fight for Barbados alone because it is the territory I represented, my purpose was the development of West Indies cricket,” Garner said.
Garner added he did not expect to garner votes because of his status as a legendary West Indies cricketer. He said he was hoping that the members reviewed his tenure as president for over a decade and used it as a guideline to help them make their decision.