May the best man win!
I?EXPECT?a close duel for the presidency of the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) but I still believe it is the incumbent’s to lose against his former chief lieutenant.
Yes, Joel Garner versus Conde Riley has had the build-up of a conventional political campaign and it is now over to the electorate to choose who they think is the better man to lead the association for the next two years.
Given all that has transpired in the lead up to tonight’s annual general meeting, it seemed as though Riley’s team ran the most aggressive public campaign. They have utilized the media better than Garner’s team as they seek to prevent the cricket legend from attaining a third successive term.
On reflection, I think it may be better to say that they have had a more visible presence than the president’s but the question of effectiveness comes into play. How many undecided voters have they been able to sway with the published and broadcast content?
Notwithstanding that their camp has been split since the last election, it can be a question of who will be able to get the majority of those votes and who will manage to convince others with neutral interest to join their crusade.
In my opinion that is where the election will be decided.
Even so, I have observed that media campaigning for office in other mainstream sports in the past may not always have the impact or the results intended by those running for high office.
For instance, I thought Trevor Browne’s attempt to unseat Steve Stoute as president of the Barbados Olympic Association was flawed because he exposed too much of his hand too early and he played into the corner of an icon who is well respected and appears to have a sound, if not perfect record at the helm of his organization.
Not only that, that kind of approach doesn’t make a lot of sense because the size of the ballot is restricted to those who are members of the organization in question. It is not like using such a tool to play with the emotions of a country as in a general election.
In other words, trying to persuade the average person to take sides can’t work if, as in this case, they don’t have BCA membership.
Therefore, I believe the best strategy would have been to work quietly behind the scenes for most of the campaign, having one-on-ones, making telephone calls, emails and the like to coax prospective voters into your corner.
This shouldn’t be hard to achieve because the constituency to which you speak is very narrow. The hardest part, of course, in every kind of election is to make constituents buy into your policies; to convince them that you have the best programmes for development going forward.
The Garner/Riley scenario, as I pointed out in a previous column, has its peculiarities because they were generally seen as two peas in a pod, inseparable in every aspect (at least publicly) so some may still be coming to terms with the split a lot more than what caused it.
It might be causing headaches for those who are now forced to take sides when at the last annual general meeting they voted for Garner and Riley as a team.
It can very well come down to personality if not policy because I don’t think there’s too much variation in respect of the latter.
Garner is an icon, well respected for his contribution to West Indies cricket but he could be under threat if the insiders feel that he isn’t a good administrator or that there has been no progress for local cricket under his leadership.
Riley, on the other hand, is a regular guy, a foot soldier, scholarly and passionate about the sport, someone you can call at midnight to deal with a cricketing issue and he would oblige.
But will the majority of the electorate see him as the person to lead the association or do they prefer him in a supportive role to the president?
That decision resides with those who can vote tonight.
I wasn’t happy with certain aspects of the campaign but I hope we realize that at the end of the contest, the best brains are still needed to work as a team for the benefit of cricket and cricketers no matter who wins.
• Andi Thornhill is an experienced, award-winning freelance sports journalist.