“The rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth.” – Isaiah 55:10
The Daily word reminds us that “rain falls onto the earth, is heated by the sun, and rises as steam to form clouds. When the clouds get heavy, they break open and water falls again. This Divine orderly cycle supports life, growth, and harvest.
Cricket is now a business, it is fuelled by the shorter formats of the game, and cricketers are able to earn more and more money without a protective corporate governance system in place. As the players’ informal business mentality escalates in an unstructured environment, all hell breaks loose among the players and the business of West Indies cricket suffers again.
This chaotic cycle supports disturbance in the smooth flow of the international game, decay in relationships and disappointment among cricket supporters.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) Board will have gathered at ICC headquarters in Dubai on November 9 and 10 for the last round of meetings of the year. Among the items discussed were matters arising from the recent West Indies cancelled tour of India.
I was having a business lunch with two colleagues last Friday at the Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad. We were not discussing cricket but as we were about winding up our meeting a former West Indies player moseyed over to our table to greet us. Almost immediately, one of my colleagues shifted the discussion to the implications for the West Indies pulling out of the Indian tour.
In a few short minutes, we experienced what, in my opinion, was a confident, concise interactive prognosis, as follows:
(1) At the ICC meeting, plasters will be found to appease all parties.
(2) The cost of this ephemeral treatment (probably in excess of US$42 million) would be borne by Caribbean governments, most of which cannot afford it.
(3) Caribbean politicians will get involved.
(4) The Jamaican government is not going to stand by and see the further demise of West Indies cricket under their watch (the WICB and WIPA presidents and the WICB CEO are all Jamaicans).
(5) It only takes eight people out of millions of West Indian cricket supporters to elect the President and Vice President of the WICB which effectively means that West Indian cricket supporters are disenfranchised.
(6) If the constitution of the WICB is to be changed, in an orderly way, it would have to be changed by the incumbents – a fat chance of that ever happening.
(7) Is the CARICOM Charter so weak that the Caribbean Heads of Government cannot intervene to alter the West Indies cricket corporate governance structure to enfranchise West Indies cricket supporters?
(8) In less than a year, when the effect of the plasters have worn off, there is likely to be another player dissatisfaction issue rearing its ugly head.
The chaotic cycle will continue unless the corporate governance issue is addressed.
There were again a number of responses to last week’s column.
A Jamaican living in the United States: “Yes, this embarrassingly puerile behavior by the players and others has to stop. Small wonder that we’ve long ceased to be [the once fearsome] world champions of the game! As one who follows Caribbean sports for my weekly radio report (highlights) here in Washington, I come down on your side of this latest episode: the players should have completed the tour. There should have been a greater commitment to finding (a) mutually agreed resolution long before the tour was due to start. Embarrassing might even be an understatement.
“Where is the vision in those steering the ship? [I was careful to avoid using the word “leadership,” which involves so much more than the fact of being the one(s) sitting in the big chair]. Leaders also learn well from history: Remember that 1998-99 tour of South Africa, ahead of which the West Indies team stayed in London in protest over salaries and conditions? The disastrous West Indies performance when that tour eventually continued was predictable.”
A Trinidadian living in Kenya: “I went into a predominantly ‘Indian’ mall here in Nairobi on the weekend, with my West Indies shirt on. Only after entering did I realize how exposed I was. It was the first time in my life I was embarrassed to wear a West Indies cricket shirt. I really do hope this matter is resolved. Cricketers all over the world love West Indian PLAYERS! ”
A Jamaican living in Canada: “The common theme is that the management of West Indies cricket needs an overhaul. Basic conditions for the players needs to be set by the WIPA. However individual players having their own sponsorship deals is OK. Again the North American model has great examples. Team sports but compensation which is definitely biased towards the stars. But there are minimums. e.g. a term you hear as an example is the “Veterans Minimum”. So even though some get super compensated there is a floor for the non-stars as such. The WICB needs to have good lawyers on board for that November 10 meeting. ”
Dr. Don Marshall, Head of the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies, also responded to my column last week and has continued his theme on the back page of the Saturday Sun newspaper: that the WICB and its President should be sacked. He did not say by whom.
May our leaders have the vision to take action which addresses the disenfranchised West Indies cricket supporters and induces an orderly cycle which supports West Indies cricket life, growth and harvest.
Until such time, confusion and embarrassment shall likely reign.
(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)