“Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord.” – Zechariah 4:6

Caribbean cricket supporters woke up to the news recently that the players representing the West Indies ODI cricket squad withdrew their services in the middle of the tour of India ostensibly because the poor internal communication regarding the handling of a pay dispute.

Speculation about the negative feedback of such a decision began to be articulated in the international press and included the following:

(1) the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the most financially powerful cricket administration in the world, may consider making a claim to the WICB to recoup their net losses resulting from the cancellation of the tour – this could cripple WICB’s finances.

(2) BCCI may be tempted to withdraw from future Caribbean tours – this would spell disaster for WICB’s future revenue.

(3) The BCCI and other cricket nations could lodge a complaint to the ICC about the WICB’s cricket administration which could result in the ICC being forced to expel the WICB from the international cricket family – this could signal the end of West Indies cricket as we know it and could mean that present and future West Indies cricketers, in all forms of the game, could have their cricketing future for the West Indies curtailed.

(4) The IPL could ban West Indies cricketers from their league – this would remove a lucrative source of revenue.

I cannot think of one positive outcome from the action of withdrawal of services. It should never have happened. Now, all stakeholders of West Indies cricket have to engage in a series of damage control measures in an attempt to avert the undesirable outcomes suggested above.

Fortunately, West Indies cricket and its players have at least six things going for them which could mitigate the likelihood of the above potential threats being activated by the BCCI, IPL or ICC. 

(1) The brand of West Indies cricket is internationally sought after – this makes it difficult to comprehend international cricket without the Windies.

(2) Past West Indian cricketers, many of whom have condemned the action of withdrawal of their services by the players, have established excellent relationships with cricketing nations around the world and the ICC – this could be a buffer against any precipitous action by the international cricketing community.

(3) Past West Indian cricketers have, for the most part, demonstrated the highest level of loyalty to their country and the region – this holds these persons and the West Indies in high regard in the eyes of the cricketing world.

(4) If the BCCI were to flex its strong financial muscles too much – this could exacerbate the cricket wealth divide between the 10 Test playing nations.

(5) The West Indies players in the IPL contribute significantly to the very high brand value in many of the leading IPL franchises – IPL will not want to lose them.

(6) There have been offers of apology from past West Indian players, the WICB and others – this may diffuse some of the emotion aroused by the withdrawal of services.

West Indies cricket will soon know where it stands in the eyes of the international cricketing community.

The real issue is to determine how could this debacle have been avoided and what measures can we put in place to minimise the likelihood of its occurrence in the future?

I think that this debacle could have been avoided if three things had been addressed.

(1) If some more effort had been expended by the WICB and WIPA in shepherding (life coaching) players to the point where they understood that loyalty to country is supreme and any action similar to that which took place should be akin to mutiny and severely punishable according to a governing protocol.

(2) If WIPA management had been more careful not to “let their egos get in the way” but rather to spend more time and effort listening to the needs of the persons that they are mandated to represent, the West Indies players, and act accordingly.

(3) If the WICB had addressed the corporate governance of West Indies cricket which is the communications protocol between the stakeholders of West Indies cricket.

I wrote an article published on September 7, 2009 entitled “Dismantling and Rebuilding of WICB and WIPA” which recognises the fact that the primary stakeholder of West Indies cricket, the West indies cricket supporters, is disenfranchised. I think it is still relevant today. For those interested it is archived at www.cbetmodel.org under “Latest Weekly Columns”.

The corporate governance issue is not only restricted to West Indies cricket but is at the core of the following four areas:

(1) The functioning of the Caribbean Community. The Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) has been successful in the context of the “CSM” but the “E” is silent simply because governments refuse to give up any policy space to a regional entity.

(2) Caribbean governments which try to execute business programmes within a ministry. These programmes should be more appropriately executed on their behalf by a private sector trust. The role of government is to perform regulatory and service functions and the civil service rules, inherited from our colonial past, are well designed to support this role.

(3) Caribbean private sector companies. The private sector corporate structures are designed for efficient execution but are often ignored leading to inefficiency.

(4) Caribbean start-up enterprises. Start-up companies, in my opinion, should start their businesses with a board meeting so that they get their structure right from the outset.
Let us execute our projects not by might, nor by power, but by shifting gears to a higher spiritual perspective with a sound corporate governance structure.

As the scriptures teach us, all things should be done decently and in order.

(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. – CBET – His columns may be found at www.cbetmodel.org and www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com)