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The way forward

shadiasimpson, [email protected]

The way forward

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The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) will hold an election for the posts of president and vice-president at its annual general meeting on Wednesday in Barbados.
The election is creating widespread interest around the Caribbean because incumbent president Julian Hunte is facing a challenge from his vice-president since 2007, Whycliffe “Dave” Cameron.
NATION Associate Editor (Sports) Haydn Gill interviewed Cameron on a range of issues, including what prompted him to contest the position and what he would bring to the post if elected.
Q: There has been a lot of interest around the region in the build-up to this election, primarily because you, the vice-president, are challenging the president. What influenced you to seek the position?
A: My decision to vie for the presidency is based on a couple of factors. There are a number of members on the board of directors who genuinely believe that I have what it takes to lead such an august body; those characteristics being vision, leadership, a serious sense of Caribbean pride and unity and a passion for West Indies cricket.
Having numerous relationships and networks around the region, having studied at the University of the West Indies Centre for Hotel and Tourism Management in The Bahamas 20 years ago, I believe that what I bring to the table can use the WICB to unite the region again.
Q: The current president has said that he denied he informed the board that he was not seeking re-election. You’ve said something to the contrary in the past. Was this a case of a misunderstanding?
A: It may be a case of misunderstanding on the part of a number of directors. Prior to the president making an announcement that he was seeking re-election, we had unofficial canvassing between Joel Garner and myself as to who would get the nod and I came out ahead. It may not only be me, but a number of persons. Dr Hunte is aware of that lobbying as well.
Q: With Dr Hunte returning to the fray, did you give consideration to withdrawing your nomination?
A: I did. To be honest, I could easily have sat by and remain the vice-president for the next two years. I’m realizing that all the mistakes he made and the accomplishments have been brushed with the same brush of the organization.
I am one who seriously believes in collective responsibility. While I may not have agreed with all the decisions made, once we’ve agreed collectively, I stand by them. I don’t necessarily believe we are approaching this era . . .  I don’t believe we are open enough. I don’t believe the profile of the board is where it needs to be. I thought about it and I decided to offer myself after consultation with some of the members.
Q: You have been part of the board for 11 years, vice-president for six years. You have a fair idea of the board’s vision, its strategic plan on so on. If elected as president, what are the major things you’d like to achieve to take the board in a new direction?
A: The strategic plan is fine but I’m not too sure that everybody buys into the vision, which is creating a serious disconnection in the industry in the region. We have to move quickly to start doing that. Nobody is waiting on us.
What I’m feeling is that we’re running an organization and we hope the resources will come from somewhere to sustain us. We’re not putting all the things in place to ensure we can deliver on the strategic plan. If you had a chance to look at Dr Hunte’s manifesto, a lot of it has to do with expenditure on different development programmes. That is what exactly West Indies cricket is about. You have to find a way to engage corporate Caribbean in ensuring that we can have the necessary resources to deliver on those things.
The plan is good but what we need to do is change focus. My plan is to focus on the territorial boards and give them more responsibility and have them accountable to all the stakeholders. We’ve been trying to manage West Indies cricket from the centre and by so doing, we’ve alienated a lot of [people].
What we want to do is get that participation back up to its highest level. The way to do that is to engage our territorial boards to be a part of the process. The territorial boards are part of the strategic plan but not the main focus. That is where I’d like to channel my energies.
Q: You touched on getting more involvement from corporate Caribbean. These are tough economic times. The board has lost some of its sponsors in recent times. Do you have the solution to get corporate Caribbean on board?
A: I do. A lot of them have reached out to me in different ways throughout this campaign, giving me their support and hoping that I get the nod. Obviously for different reasons, they don’t want to come forward and make a statement.
I have a major corporate network across the region. Due to that, my firm is now doing a major project in St Kitts. We’re looking at expanding in the region because of it. That’s what I do. I have a serious network dating back 22 years ago when I attended university in The Bahamas. All of those people remain my friends and business associates in different spheres across the region.
Before I became a WICB director, I’d been travelling around the region watching cricket. Those relationships have lasted. They have blossomed. I think I can utilize those to our strengths.
The president made mention of looking to the regional governments for a lottery. I spent four years travelling around the West Indies to put a lottery together which was the brainchild of the former WICB presidents, the Honourable Pat Rousseau and Teddy Griffith. Mr Griffith asked me, as the chairman of marketing, to champion the cause. We were very close to implementing same when Dr Hunte took office. We’ve not seen the light of it.
It’s my fault because I was the vice-president. I asked on numerous occasions why we haven’t pursued it. It’s interesting now that six years later, Dr Hunte feels this is the opportunity to get funds into West Indies cricket. The game is now the Super Lotto which is played around the region. The beneficiary was supposed to be West Indies cricket and CARIFESTA.
Q: How would you assess the direction in which the board has been moving under the leadership of Dr Hunte?
A: If you were to take a serious look at West Indies cricket, we’ve won the ICC World Twenty20. That’s excellent. We’ve started the High Performance Centre. We’re still languishing near the bottom of the Test table and the 50-over table.
Our financial resources have not really grown and our sponsors are not growing. On the field of play,  we’ve had reasonable success but we’ve been disconnected from the region. There are too many issues among the stakeholders.
If you look at the Chris Gayle saga, the Jamaica Cricket Association as a shareholder was not necessarily in agreement with how the matter was dealt with. My value is about relationships, how we are able to move processes forward and being more pro-active in resolving issues. These are a few examples – the issue that occurred in Jamaica some years ago with the then president over an election, the issues that occurred in Guyana. My view is that once we were always getting complaints coming out of Guyana, we should have visited Guyana and offered some assistance in resolving the matters.  
That’s what I bring to the table – innovativeness, being pro-active and raising the profile of West Indies cricket. With this election, in the last couple of weeks, the profile of West Indies cricket has increased somewhat.
Q: You’ve presented a manifesto to the territorial boards. You’ve been travelling around trying to get support. Are you confident that you will get the endorsement of the majority of the shareholders?
A: The manifesto is a major step in the right direction. My whole view and vision of West Indies cricket is that we need to raise the standard and levels of how we do things. I hope the manifesto raises the standard in choosing a president.
Dating back to 2005 when Ken Gordon became president and I was a junior at that time, I was adamant that anybody who wants to lead the WICB should demonstrate to the board their vision and how they could take West Indies cricket forward. We’ve never done that.
Most times you’re on the outside and you believe that West Indies cricket issues are very easy to fix but it takes a couple years to realize there are many complex issues – least of them, we are 14 to 16 sovereign territories all divided by water with different cultures. That in itself creates challenges that one has to deal with. With that said, I have been received very well by most of the boards. It has given them some food for thought. I’m cautiously optimistic that I will get the nod come March 27.
Q: There has been an interesting development. You’ve been seconded by the Windwards Cricket Board of Control. Its president Emmanuel Nanthan is your running mate. The WICB president, however, says he believes he is assured of the support of the Windwards shareholders. What’s your response to that?
A: The Windwards president H.E. Ambassador Emmanuel Nanthan and vice-president Mr Elson Crick gave me their support. They continue to give me their support. The shareholders and directors are different. It’s the first time we’ve done it that way. That is one of the great things that has come out under Dr Hunte’s reign. I’d like to see that expanded in the territories as well where we can get more persons being involved in running cricket in the different areas.
Be that as it may, I feel confident that I will be able to assist Emmanuel Nanthan in communicating to the shareholders in the Windward Islands why they should support him in supporting me for the president of the WICB. These things are fluid. They are changing every day.
Q: In the event you are not successful in this election, will you be lost totally to the administration of West Indies cricket?
A: I’m offering myself to West Indies cricket. If I’m not accepted at the highest level, I’m available at different levels. I have to always remind everybody that I’ve been the president of Kensington Cricket Club (Jamaica) for the last 14 years and a member for 30 years. I will not be lost to cricket. I’m available to serve in whatever capacity the board may choose to use me.
Q: It’s been reported that you are contemplating taking legal action against the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) for reasons that are not quite clear. Can you confirm or deny these reports?
A: I can confirm there was an article in the Trinidad Guardian. I was not the architect of any action against the BCA nor did I ask anyone to look into this matter. I’ve written to the BCA on that score but I have no intention of taking legal action against one of my constituents. There is a standard which I hope to be able to maintain in the best interest of the cricket. My leadership stance is about making a change to impact on a majority of the stakeholders in the game of cricket.
Q: But, have you had any difficulties with the BCA?
A: I’d asked for months now to visit the BCA and make a presentation to the board. That was not accepted and they asked us to present manifestos to the board.
I am terribly disappointed by the lack of response from the BCA since we are supposed to hold West Indies cricket in high regard. As a full WICB member, I would have wanted to have the opportunity to address one of the member boards. When I become president next week, I will still have to deal with the BCA.
Q: Finally, why should WICB shareholders elect you as president?
A: What they will be getting is a leader who has been tried and tested. I’ve been a leader since I was in high school. In almost every organization I’ve been in, I’ve been the leader.
People have always responded. They will be getting a personality that is able to engage persons at all levels, rekindle the Caribbean unity and pride through cricket, most of all bring in needed revenues to ensure that the development of our young talented persons are continued.
Very importantly, we need to see cricket as one of our biggest items to showcase the region’s beauty and diverse culture. If I’m able to do that we’d be very successful.
That’s my vision for cricket. I like to distinguish between West Indies cricket and cricket because the landscape is now at another level. West Indies cricket is a sub set of international cricket that’s available to our players in the region.
We have to start looking at how we become part of that global spread and include players – not just the players themselves but other participants that are required to make the game progress: administrators, coaches, managers, umpires, media, all very important stakeholders – in being part of growing this wonderful industry. I believe I have the vision, the talent, the network and ability to bring it all together.