“Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.” – Romans 12:12
Last week, I was privileged to meet Trinidadian Vaneisa Baksh, a renowned writer on the game of cricket. The occasion was a meeting of the publishing sub-committee of the Sir Frank Worrell Memorial Committee Ltd. (SFWMC) in Trinidad.
The draft mission of the SFWMC is “to educate and inform our stakeholders of the exemplary qualities of Sir Frank Worrell; to promote his noble values; and to encourage and motivate the younger generation to develop similar leadership skills and qualities.” We were discussing a proposal which Vaneisa presented to the sub-committee.
The discussion evolved to the governance of West Indies cricket and I learned that Vaneisa was passionate about the need for change.
Celebrated writer and cricket commentator Tony Cozier stated, on Sunday March 8, 2015 in an article entitled “Resistance to change hurting WICB”, that: “The reality is that, as presently structured, the WICB (West Indies Cricket Board) is not the solution but the problem. It comprises two directors from its six constituent boards, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Leeward Islands, Trinidad and Tobago and Windward Islands. Each board appoints two delegates to vote every two years for president and vice-president. Four non-voting directors were added six years ago, one representing CARICOM, the regional governmental grouping, two from private businesses, one with a brief for the women’s game.
“It is a recipe for individual territories to press their narrow interests above those of the great whole and for internal bartering that has little to do with reclaiming former glory. Every attempt to make the necessary changes has been resisted by WICB’s directors. Seven years ago, they set up the Committee on the Governance of West Indies cricket, headed by PJ Patterson, the former Jamaica prime minister. One of the items on its agenda was to ‘consider the composition and structure of the WICB and to make recommendations which will improve its overall operations, governance, effectiveness, team performance and strengthen its credibility and public support’.
“It proposed the formation of a West Indies Cricket Commission constituted by all major interest groups – territorial boards, players and officials, women, the Caribbean Community, the private sector and civil society – that would meet bi-annually to approve policies, programmes and budget. It was never implemented. The WICB’s operations, governance, effectiveness, team performance, credibility and public support remain as weak as they have ever been. Patterson fumed that he had wasted three years of his life working on the report.”
Cozier quotes Vaneisa Baksh: “We have wondered how we could replace the WICB with an entity that is not a private company, accountable to no one but itself,” who referred to an article by Dr. Kusha Haraksingh, who believed a judgment by the Supreme Court of India involving the Indian board has ‘direct implications for the West Indies’.
“The judgment read, in part: ‘Any organization or entity that has such pervasive control over the game and its affairs as can make dreams end up in smoke or come true cannot be said to be undertaking any private activity.’ The point was that, as the functions of the Indian cricket board are clearly public, it should be ‘answerable on the standards generally applicable to judicial review of state (government) action'”.
“What if West Indian people who want to claim cricket could bring an action against the WICB to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) in relation to this (Haraksingh’s) extract from the (Indian) Supreme Court’s ruling?” Baksh wondered. “Might it not be a matter that says West Indies cricket administrators have gone against public policy and can we not petition the CCJ by way of a motion of no-confidence, or something else, to have the WICB stripped of its stranglehold on West Indies cricket?”
Cozier concluded: “It’s a long shot but worth it.”
Dr. Keith Rowley, the recently elected Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, has recently weighed in on this topic.
Dr. Rowley said in the press: “It is really disappointing to see how us West Indians have taken what is the best legacy that has been bequeathed to us and just ruined it by general misconduct.” He said “the abandoned tour of India last year was the ultimate embarrassment.” And he noted that “the investigation showed that the Board was culpable, along with the players of course, but the Board had a major responsibility in that disaster. That Board is now calling for an apology from Phil Simmons and I presume if he doesn’t grovel to them, he would lose the job.” Rowley continued: “If any politician or political party or any Government sets about to do that, (the) reaction will be what are you doing in this? And you now become part of the problem.”
I have stated in this column on many occasions that West Indian cricket fans are disenfranchised. They do not have a vote to elect the members of the WICB. Maybe Vaneisa’s suggested action above is appropriate.
Maybe for posterity the calypsonian Crazy can add another thought to his calypso “In time to come”:
“Yesterday has come and gone, leaving some of us to mourn, our cricket is suffering, many things are happening, we have been patient galore, how much more can we endure, in time to come West Indian fans will get the vote, cricket will be no more a joke, supporters will sing a new note, in time to come.”
Let us remain patient in long-suffering, trusting God to guide us. If we do this, we shall persevere and be successful.
(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.)