Antigua PM takes on CARICOM Chairman on West Indies cricket
ST GEORGE’S – Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne this morning defended his government’s position on the Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM) view of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), insisting that the regional bloc has a policy of not interfering “in the internal affairs of institutions and governments”.
Browne, in a statement to the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC), said the governance of West Indies cricket “appears to be an evocative romanticism of a particular Caribbean head”.
Addressing the ceremonial opening of the 38th summit of CARICOM leaders here on Tuesday night, the host Prime Minister and incoming chairman, Keith Mitchell, who is an ardent cricket lover, said cricket, with all its challenges, remains a unique West Indian enterprise, worthy of support and promotion.
He said the legacies that have been created by West Indian players on the field, and the voice they have given throughout generations, to expressions of West Indian identity, have been well-documented and chronicled through the years.
“So, when we get together to discuss the current challenges of the regional game, it is not merely a case of politicians dabbling in some useless pastime.
“It is, therefore, greatly disheartening to me, and several other colleague heads, that after CARICOM had taken common positions to assist in addressing the crisis of West Indies cricket, certain member governments thereafter publicly adopted different positions,” said Mitchell, a former cricketer himself, who once headed the CARICOM Sub-committee on Cricket.
Mitchell said that there was an urgent need for the leaders “to get back on course, because the current state of affairs of cricket should be a complete embarrassment to all of us who call ourselves West Indians.
“The West Indies Cricket Board, as presently constituted, has long ceased to pay attention to the alarm bells. The questions must then be asked—are we going to fiddle in disunity, while West Indies cricket burns?
“Do we stand by and do nothing, as the current system almost renders the regional game irrelevant?
Colleagues, will we continue, as heads, to agree on positions behind closed doors, only to return home and in the glare of the public, push a different agenda? We can do better. We must do better,” he said.
But Browne, who was present at the opening and has since returned to his country because of an emergency, in his statement sent to CMC, noted that “Antigua and Barbuda as a matter of principle does not interfere in the internal affairs of institutions, and governments that are governed by democratically elected officials.
“This is a universal principle on which my government stands,” he said, adding that “the core members of the West Indies Cricket Board, to the best of my knowledge, were democratically elected by the territorial boards.
“The board operates independently of governments,” he said, adding “now there is a particular head, who is of the view, and if I may add here, the flawed opinion that with my support and other heads that he could achieve his compulsive, obsessive desire to dissolve the board.
“The latter, he fallaciously argued, would automatically resolve the multiplicity of problems facing the West Indies cricket overnight,” Browne said, adding “in the event that he had gotten my support for this fantasy the question would have been how would he have achieved this forced dissolution.
“Talk is cheap, as leaders we should know our limitations and control our aspirations by ensuring that they do not exceed our limitations, Browne said, adding “we should also respect the rights of individual heads”.
Meanwhile, Mitchell has confirmed that regional governments had proposed that former team psychologist Dr Rudi Webster be made a director of Cricket West Indies (CWI).
“We do have a recommendation to the board and as the board continues to function it would make sense to fill that position. That is what the CARICOM has decided and I gave my support to that,” Mitchell told CMC.
Webster is a former Barbadian cricketer who worked with the West Indies team during their period of domination under Clive Lloyd as a sport psychologist. (CMC)