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TONY COZIER: Cameron’s ego in way of reform


TONY COZIER: Cameron’s ego in way of reform

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YET another effort to revive long suffering West Indies cricket was initiated last Wednesday. It is likely to be the last.

The necessary medication to be administered was disclosed in a comprehensive report by an independent committee, agreed on and appointed jointly by the Caribbean Community (Caricom) governments, through their cricket governance subcommittee, and the directors of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) after a meeting last April.

The committee was headed by Eudine Bariteau, principal of the University of the West Indies (UWI) campus in Barbados. It included the presidents of the Caribbean Development Bank Dr Warren Smith and the Caribbean Court of Justice Sir Denis Byron, former West Indies vice-captain and wicketkeeper Deryck Murray and Grenada Cricket Association president and alternate WICB director Dwain Gill.

It was a heavyweight body that spent three months of consultation, interviews, deliberations and meetings putting together its report. It pulled no punches in assessing the condition of the WICB and the action needed to raise West Indies cricket from its sick bed. In other words, the doctors prescribed and the patient accepted the treatment, no matter how harsh it might be.

And it was harsh. The report’s main recommendation was “the immediate dissolution” of the WICB to be replaced by an interim board with a structure and composition “radically different from the now proven obsolete governance framework”.

The WICB had twice rejected similar tough therapy stipulated by panels it commissioned itself. Satisfied with its operation, basically the same since it was formed in 1927, it missed the point that such stagnation was the principal reason for the game’s dramatic decline over the last two decades.

Former Jamaica prime minister P.J. Patterson, who presented his report in 2007, complained that its preparation represented “a wasted year of my life”. St Kitts Queen’s Counsel Charles Wilkin charged that his committee’s proposal was turned down by WICB directors who “wanted to preserve at all costs all of their positions on the board”.

The significant difference this time was noted by Keith Mitchell, prime minister of Grenada who chairs the relevant Caricom committee. It was that leaders of the cricketing Caribbean governments mandated the intervention.

They were concerned with the impact of the West Indies’ lowly status on the psyche of a public still passionate over a game that had been a metaphor for sporting excellence. United, they carried considerable clout.

The Bariteau report described the WICB’s rapport with players, and more recently suspended head coach Phil Simmons, as “fractious and problematic”. It suggested that it was mainly a structural issue.

“The residual point is that there is a breakdown in key relationships necessary for the good management and performance of the team,” it stated.

It also referred to the “potentially dangerous” breakdown in contacts between the WICB and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) triggered by the team’s premature withdrawal from last year’s tour of India.


Mitchell expects the WICB to comply with the recommendations of the Bariteau report “since it participated fully” in setting it up.

Signs are that WICB president Cameron, backed by other directors who represent the six territorial boards that are its shareholders, will resist efforts to disband it in favour of a completely transformed organisation.

Cameron said the issue would be discussed at the WICB’s scheduled quarterly meeting on December 12 “with a view to enhancing the existing work of the secretariat and the board of directors”. After that, it would choose a team of directors to present its case to the Caricom sub-committee.

Mitchell seemed to interpret it as a delaying tactic. He advised Cameron the situation was critical enough to require a session well before December. Given the Bariteau report’s edict, the WICB should be dissolved by then, its members resigned and the interim board in place. 

“That can’t be a demonstration of the urgency that we seek,” Mitchell told Cameron. “The heads of governments are certainly looking for an urgent meeting.” He is still awaiting a reply.                           

Dave Cameron’s belief in his invincibility is likely to be decisive in determining the outcome of the present situation. No president has been more repeatedly disparaged by public and Press. Undeterred, he used the Internet to post his defiant rejoinder.

“They’ve criticised you. They’ve doubted you. They’ve lied on you. They’ve done all they can do, but one thing they can’t do is stop you,” he tweeted during his first term in office.

They were not the words of one who would bow easily to pressure. Quite the opposite. For the WICB to collapse under his watch would be a huge blow to his ego. The combined power of Caribbean governments and the self-evident need for reform stand in his way.

Tony Cozier is the most experienced cricket writer and broadcaster in the Caribbean.