Hit for 12 by Riley’s bid
For every sheriff, a deputy is essential. Every head honcho needs a buddy to cover his tracks or as they say in contemporary lingo “to watch his back”.
Up to now that is how I assessed the partnership between Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) president Joel Garner and first vice-president Conde Riley.
Looking from the outside, it seemed to be working to the benefit of the association.
The general view was that Garner would oversee policy and Riley would disseminate information to the public and he became the voice and face of the BCA with the president’s approval.
Garner seemed happy to delegate and Riley even happier to facilitate.
In fact, Riley is regarded as being very media friendly. It is only on the odd occasion that he hasn’t made himself available to talk to the media on any subject.
Some of them may have been thorny and whereas the average local sports administrator would be defensive about such matters, if you’re not skilful with your verbal deliveries, Riley would advance down the pitch and hoist you for six.
I have always enjoyed my encounters with Riley because he has always been prepared to tackle the issues head on.
That’s a very rare quality even among our leaders at the highest level.
Some may say that the stakes have a greater premium at certain levels and you have to be more guarded when making public statements but the equating factor is to engage your constituents especially when they have concerns.
I don’t know if Garner preferred not to be in the hot seat on such occasions and deferred to his deputy but even so it seemed as though Riley, the loyal lieutenant that he was, didn’t mind shielding his boss from the firing line and was prepared to take a bullet for him.
So, I honestly didn’t quite know what to make of Riley’s move.
At one stage I told myself it was just a cheap public relations gimmick, putting out a feeler to see if any other serious challengers would come out of their holes.
I had to take this approach on this topic because like the average cricket supporter, it hit me for 12 when I learned that Riley was challenging the president for the top post at the forthcoming elections.
What could have caused it? Why now?
Did he always have ambitions to be president?
Has he seen enough cracks in Garner’s armour that he believes he can mount a successful palace coup?
Riley said one of the main reasons he was offering himself for the top post is that recently certain decisions were made without board approval. He wanted to return good governance to the association.
Is this an inference that there’s a fractured board?
Is the leader and his troops at loggerheads?
Whatever has inspired Riley to challenge for the leadership, it means that he is confident that he can clean bowl the former West Indies pace bowler.
So far Riley has been very aggressive but he must ensure that he can balance attack with sound defence because I don’t expect Garner to be a gentle giant in battle.
In his heyday, the president was known for delivering lethal yorkers at pace, so unless he is well equipped with the technical skills, Riley can get his stumps catspraddled.
Clearly, the gloves are off and there will be no compromise from either side.
So, like in every election, there will be plenty emotional rhetoric complemented by manifestos, propaganda and the like.
The politiking will intensify to the extent where candidates will round up people who may not have paid much interest in the administration of the game since the last election.
This pattern has become notorious at local annual general meetings and I don’t think it always works to the benefit of the functioning of an organization.
The one way of doing the right thing is to judge the incumbent on his handling of the administration during his three terms.
What were the strengths and weaknesses, gains and losses?
Did Barbados cricket make any significant steps forward over the period at all levels?
Good or bad, both Garner and Riley will have to take some responsibility for what has transpired. They must share in the bitter and the sweet that might ultimately decide who the electorate chooses to lead for the next period.
In retrospect, these gentlemen were perceived to be so close that they must be holding secrets for each other.
How will they use that information to enhance their own cause?
It’s an interesting duel in the making. I can hardly wait for the face-off in what can best be described as a broken, organizational marriage.
• Andi Thornhill is an experienced award-winning freelance sports journalist.