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Mitchell hails board’s moves

Tony Best

Mitchell hails board’s moves

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The CARICOM leader who perhaps pays the most attention among the heads of government to the fortunes of West Indies cricket likes the steps now being taken by the game’s administrators to clean up the region’s act on and off the field.

And high on Dr Keith Mitchell’s list “of steps in the right direction” are the West Indies Cricket Board’s efforts to make the game more exciting for fans, the presence of legendary former West Indies captain Clive Lloyd as the new chairman of selectors, and the changes being made to the schedule of venues where Tests and limited-overs games are to be played.

He also likes the role selector Courtney Walsh, a former West Indies captain from Jamaica, and Curtly Ambrose, a retired fast bowler from Antigua and now coach, are playing.

Just as important are the moves to boost the WICB’s finances, he said.

“Cricket is crucial to the West Indies and I talk about the game because there is a high correlation between the performance of the West Indies on the field and the finances of the West Indies Cricket Board,” said the Grenada prime minister.

“People are not going to get serious and invest in your team and in your sport if it is not playing at the level that would make it attractive to crowds and people in general.

“They are tied together and the decisions that are being made are certainly moving in the right direction.”

Mitchell told the SUNDAY SUN in New York that the side’s “poor performance over the years” had led to sparse crowds at Tests and limited-overs games.

“People have simply not been attending the matches,” he said. “That’s a far cry from the days when the West Indies dominated international cricket and were world champions and you couldn’t get a seat in a stadium.

“If people are not attending the matches, the business community isn’t going to provide the level of support that’s needed. It’s that simple.

“They are tied and I am hopeful that we would see some serious changes in the level of financial activity within the board.”

Mitchell, who often reports to CARICOM prime ministers and presidents on cricketing issues when they meet at summits, praised the board’s new leadership saying it had moved aggressively in recent times to try to reverse the declining fortunes of West Indies cricket.

“The advent of someone like Clive Lloyd as chairman of selectors, knowing his passion for West Indies cricket and the redevelopment of our sport is a good sign,” he said. “The involvement of people like Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh at the coaching level and at the selection level is another positive sign.

“What we are hoping will happen is that we will be able to put the best team forward for all versions of the game”

Mitchell hopes players selected would get the message that the board “is quite serious about doing the things that it ought to have been doing for a while.”

“I hope the team would now give of their best to be playing for the West Indies instead of attempting to be involved in every single T20 competition around the world,” he said.

“I know many of them are concentrating on their financial status but there needs to be some sort of commitment to West Indies cricket. The pride and joy of representing the West Indies must return.”