Patterson: Make Worrell WIPA’s patron saint
PLAYERS ARE THE most valuable resource of West Indies cricket and a “big stick approach” by either administrators or players will have a negative impact on the game, says former Prime Minister of Jamaica, Percival James “P.J” Patterson.
Delivering the eighteenth Frank Worrell Memorial Lecture on Tuesday night at the Walcott Warner Theatre of the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination, University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus, Patterson highlighted the efforts of the region’s first black captain to ensure that players were rewarded financially for their talents.
Speaking before an audience that including several government ministers and members of the diplomatic corps, he noted that Sir Frank “never played a false shot” “in his quest to promote full recognition of the human dignity of those blessed with his melanin”.
“After he had made a strong impression during the MCC tour of 1948, 97 in his first Test and 131 not out at Bourda, he was excluded from the team to go to India because he asked for a modest fee.
“The board like the Republican Party in the United States at the current time refused to negotiate.
“In 1949-50 he went with a Commonwealth side scoring 684 runs in the unofficial Tests with an average of 97.71 [including] two centuries, one a great double, 233 not out.
Struck first blow
“Frank Worrell had struck the first blow for professional cricketers in the Caribbean. He insisted on his entitlement to earn a reasonable livelihood in return for his innate gifts and superb talents as a cricketer,” Patterson said.
Speaking on the topic Building On Our Unique Heritage For The Full Release of Abundant Talent, Patterson said he believed the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) should make Frank Worrell its “patron saint”.
“Frank Worrell is to be remembered as one who helped to dismantle an inequitable and discriminatory social order while at the same time holding wide the door of income opportunity for West Indian players of the game.
“Since then and with the formation of WIPA in 1974 successive West Indian players particularly at the Test level have been financial beneficiaries of new contractual arrangements.
“Some may contend excessively so in a few instances for those players who have not performed commensurately but we have to remember the players are the most valuable resource of West Indies cricket and a big stick approach either by the board or WIPA is deleterious to West Indies cricket,” he said.
Patterson noted that the WICB had rejected the central thrust of the 2007 governance report on West Indies cricket, commonly called the Patterson Report.
“Our group was guided by the conviction that since West Indies cricket is supposed to belong to the people of the West Indies, the current shareholders which are the territorial boards would as good trustees accept a governance structure to permit meaningful representation by the major stakeholders.
“That recommendation for structural change the board was never prepared to entertain,” he said.
Patterson, who was an original member of the Prime Ministerial Sub-committee on Cricket, said regional governments also had to take some portion of the blame for their failure to demonstrate the required political will.
“We may still ponder what may have been but the stumps have been finally drawn and it is now time to move on,” he said.