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Shame on powers that be

Andi Thornhill

Shame on powers that be

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It’s a shame that the good governance of West Indies cricket is being compromised when the long-term effects of this will impact gravely on the coming generation who will be responsible for safeguarding the sport’s future.
Who would have thought that the state of affairs in Guyana’s cricket would see government’s intervention in an attempt to restore order?
Who would have thought that we would see any Caribbean government seeing the need to take such a drastic step as putting an interim committee in place to oversee the game?
And further, to ask the CARICOM Secretariat to mediate what are major differences between the divided parties who say they have a vested interest in Guyana’s cricket.
This unsettling development has emanated from what seems to be a raw fight for power – at the expense of the players and those who support the game.
I think it is a betrayal of those in the past who laid the foundation for Guyana to give the region such gems as Rohan Kanhai, Clive Lloyd, Basil Butcher, Alvin Kallicharan, Colin Croft, Roy Federicks, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul.
The betrayal runs even deeper as far as the supporters are concerned when you consider that Guyanese continue to support all forms of cricket more than other regional supporters.
And to think the ongoing dispute almost prevented Guyana from competing in the Caribbean Twenty20 (CT20). Were we seriously on the brink of seeing that link broken given all that Guyana has contributed to West Indies cricket?
The warring factions may not have considered any of this during the heat of their tug-of-war, but since when would anyone have time to gather sober thoughts when their minds are clouded and their actions are controlled by emotion and self-interest?
Still we must not encourage governments to get involved directly in settling internal disputes in regional boards because if this precedent in Guyana becomes entrenched, it means that other conventional means of finding solutions to everyday problems would be a thing of the past.
Such interventions conjure up images of how cricket is run in some Asian jurisdictions. The thought of regional politicians hand-picking executive board members and even selecting teams is not comforting at all.
Notwithstanding that there seemed to be no resolution in sight using traditional means, some would argue that this was the only way to save Guyanese cricket from the turmoil which would have uprooted all of the gains so many had worked tirelessly to achieve.
Even so, the scars will be there long after the dispute has been settled and isn’t it going to be that more difficult for some of the stakeholders who are now on opposing sides to work together once a sense of normalcy returns to the governance of Guyana’s cricket?
It is also worrying that government intervention is being suggested in the Antigua situation.
But pray tell what kind of procedure is being followed there if it is true that there have been no board elections in five years? It sounds like a prescription for controversy and chaos.
It wouldn’t have been possible to have given West Indies cricketers the likes of Sir Vivian Richards, Andy Roberts, Curtly Ambrose, Richie Richardson and Ridley Jacobs if the authorities in their day were not organized in such a way to provide the platform for them to excel initially in the Leeward Islands tournaments.
This situation, too, like Guyana’s, calls for much soul-searching because Generation Next needs today’s heroes to inspire them as they try to establish themselves and leave their own footprints in the sand.
Trinidad and Tobago cricket also seems to have some internal unrest.
And lest we forget, not so long ago we in Barbados also had our share of running battles at board level and one of the first options to settle a dispute was to head to Coleridge Street for justice to be served. I dare anyone to suggest that it didn’t affect the way we performed on the field.
One of the matters for concern is that in each scenario some of the characters involved in disputes at the parochial level inevitably find themselves as representatives on the West Indies Cricket Board for their respective territories.
How then can we expect to have rational decisions made by the WICB at all times?
The WICB has to take into account that it has lost its ten arbitration battles with the West Indies Players Association (WIPA).
This brings sharply into question the authorities’ ability to make the right decisions on behalf of regional cricket. Those statistics indicate that they are negligent in following the terms they agree with WIPA on the players’ behalf. It is a very costly process which does not support the view of many that WIPA are a bunch of nitpickers who don’t have the interest of West Indies cricket at heart.
The weakness of the board may be as a result of its composition but we never hear of anyone being sanctioned for mistakes made.
In the past, we shared the collective embarrassment of fielding over-aged players in an international youth tournament and not to mention an abandoned Test in Antigua a few years ago. There was not even a slap on the wrist for the public to see and recognize that there is, after all, some accountability at WICB level.
It is against this background that some are annoyed when the board in turn punishes players for indiscretions.
There is a festering of poor governance of cricket throughout the region and it is an oft-neglected fact in discussions about why we are not doing as well as we should in the international era. One thing impacts the other because if the head is bad the whole body is bad.