“As a spiritual being, I draw upon divine strength to do all I need to do, to be all I can be, to achieve my heart’s desires. What an inspiring truth! The joy of the Lord is your strength” – Nehemiah 8:10
First of all let me congratulate Darren Sammy and his team for bringing so much cheer into the hearts of Caribbean people last weekend as the WI cricket team beat the Sri Lankan team in Sri Lanka in the finals to be crowned World Twenty20 champions. Indeed, congratulations to all of those who contributed to the moulding of individual talents into a force that dramatically achieved this dream, notwithstanding our lowly placing in the world rankings prior to the start of the tournament.
Based on Captain Sammy’s many press conferences the following sentiment is a reflection of the message that he conveys: “My body, mind and spirit respond to positive, life-affirming prayers. I feel an upsurge of energy through my entire being. I am filled with the strength of God”.
As a result of their accomplishments the WI team now ranks second in the ICC Standings (7 Oct 2012) ironically behind Sri Lanka the losers of the final. Both in the ICC Test Championship Standings (03 Sep 2012) and in the ICC ODI Championship (05 Sep 2012), the WI team is ranked 7. There is still much to be achieved if we are to return to the halcyon days of WI cricket of the 1980’s and early 1990’s when the regional side was invincible, achieving a record unbroken sequence of 29 Test series without a loss.
WI cricket is a business and the sustainable success of this business is directly related to the efficiency with which the systems of the business are managed. The systems of a business are corporate governance, marketing, operations, human resource development and investment finance. The recent success is due to the ability of the management to bring together talented cricketers and mould them into a high efficiency unit to beat the opposition. This is an example of a successful “operations” system and we must now manage this to maintain success at Twenty20 cricket and achieve success in other forms of the game. In this context, there is a view that the renaissance of the WI test team is being ruthlessly undermined by an Indian Premier League tempting stars to ignore Test duty. This is a challenge that has to be addressed by management.
The WI cricket brand is very popular around the world as manifested by the growing demand for TV coverage of matches involving the WI from countries that one would least expect. Because of this, well before 2007 we witnessed growing revenue for the WI cricket Board despite poor performance of the West Indies team on the field. Now that the team has demonstrated excellence the WICB “marketing” system must get into full gear to exploit the combination of the brand popularity and team success.
The “human resource development” system has been given a boost with the advent of the Sagicor West Indies Cricket Board High Performance Centre. The Centre is geared towards refining the holistic skills and charting the way forward in the development of 15 of the best young cricketers in the region.
In terms of the “investment finance” system there have been reports of poor investment decisions but the focus must surely be to attract sponsorship and TV rights for a team on the ascendency. It is also important to minimise the conflicts with the West Indies Players’ Association which results in far too many litigious matters which are then lost in court and cost the WICB significant sums with no compensating benefit.
The major weakness in the WICB is the failure to recognise and do something about the “corporate governance” system. My position is that the majority of the Caribbean cricket lovers are disenfranchised with respect to their right to vote for the leadership of the WICB, the entity which governs WI cricket.
As a result of the findings of the Moyne Commission from the UK and other local Commissions before and after the Second World War, certain political reforms were introduced as a concession to the aroused political consciousness of the masses and middle classes, who expressed dissatisfaction with the existing methods of government. Universal adult suffrage was introduced which gave the extension of the right to vote to adult citizens as a whole and not just to privileged persons.
The ownership of the WICB consists of the cricket associations of Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, the Leeward Islands, Trinidad & Tobago and the Windward Islands, all privileged persons associations with limited membership compared with the masses of cricket supporters in the respective territories. These associations choose the Directors of the WICB which manages WI cricket. The masses of cricket supporters in the respective territories are therefore disenfranchised. Certain political reforms need to be introduced before consciousness of the masses of cricket supporters express dissatisfaction with the WICB.
The West Indies Players Association (WIPA) has recently thrown its support behind the decision by leading St Kitts attorney Charles Wilkin QC to resign as chairman of the WICB Governance Committee after the WICB clique, as owners of WICB refused to accept some of the recommendations of his committee which, in my opinion are fundamental to the question of cricket supporters’ adult suffrage.
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, let us set about strengthening the link of Corporate Governance lest the good work of Sammy and his team go to no avail.