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ALL AH WE IS ONE: Collateral damage

Tennyson Joseph, [email protected]

ALL AH WE IS ONE: Collateral damage

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WHEN THE last election for the post of president of the West Indies Cricket Board was dominating the news earlier this year, there was widespread concern among Caribbean observers that too much dirty water had passed under the bridge to make for an unproblematic re-election of the incumbent president, Dave Cameron.

With the election coming in the middle of a controversial pull-out of an Indian tour by West Indies players triggering a $40 million unsettled fee demand from the Indian Cricket Board, and with all of this presided over by the leadership of the Cameron-Nanton clique, it was expected that the mature democratic response would have been for the leadership to take responsibility, free the hand of the territorial boards, and offer the WICB a genuine opportunity for a fresh start.

Indeed, one regional prime minister took the unprecedented step of urging Cameron to take a step back, gain some maturity, and make space for someone who was more “ready” to assume the responsibility for regional cricket.

Alas, far from accepting responsibility for what was arguably the lowest point of West Indies cricket, the Cameron group mounted a “political” campaign, going as far as encouraging the Jamaican board to vote for Cameron on the basis of his nationality above all else. It was a curious case of a man running for regional office by appealing to petty nationalist sentiments.

This was reflective of a crude understanding of the responsibilities of power, and the absence of leadership sophistication, which clash against the immense psychic importance of the WICB to West Indian cultural, social, political and economic life.

The latest suspension of West Indies cricket coach Phil Simmons, on the eve of a major tour to Sri Lanka, therefore, has unsurprisingly added yet another reminder of the significant gaps in leadership skill by the current WICB group, following upon the anti-Gale tweet, the emailed dismissal of Otis Gibson, the unfounded Tony Cozier “poor eyesight” claim, the Indian tour fiasco and the denial of a place of the West Indies in the Champions Trophy tournament.

It has resulted in loud expressions of unease amongst players, captain, prime ministers and other stakeholders, and has added to instability and chaos.

Whist it is clear that Simmons made an error – and his apology has acknowledged this – a more sophisticated managerial response would have allowed him to complete the Sri Lanka tour, while announcing that an enquiry would be held on a date immediately following the tour.

Given the poor state of the West Indies cricket, and given the fiasco of the last overseas tour, all care should have been taken to stabilise the team on overseas duty.

Instead, typical of the plantation cultural conditioning of the leadership, the intent was to punish swiftly, with little thought for the cricketing collateral damage. Instead, folly continues.

Tennyson Joseph is a political scientist at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, specialising in regional affairs. Email [email protected]