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May the best man win!


Andi Thornhill

May the best man win!

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I?EXPECT?a close duel  for the presidency  of the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA)  but I still believe it  is the incumbent’s  to lose against his  former chief lieutenant.
Yes, Joel Garner versus Conde Riley has had the build-up of a conventional political campaign  and it is now over  to the electorate to choose who they think is the better man to lead  the association for  the next two years.
Given all that has transpired in the lead up to tonight’s annual general meeting, it seemed as though Riley’s team ran the most aggressive public campaign. They have utilized the media better than Garner’s team  as they seek to prevent the cricket legend from attaining a third successive term.
On reflection, I think it may be better to say that they have had a more visible presence than  the president’s but the question of effectiveness comes into play. How many undecided voters have they been able to sway with the published and broadcast content?
Notwithstanding that their camp has been split since the last election, it can be a question of who will be able to get the majority of those votes  and who will manage  to convince others with neutral interest to join their crusade.
In my opinion that  is where the election  will be decided.
Even so, I have observed that media campaigning for office  in other mainstream sports in the past  may not always have  the impact or the results intended by those  running for high office.
For instance, I thought Trevor Browne’s attempt to unseat Steve Stoute as president of the Barbados Olympic Association was flawed because he exposed too much of his hand too early and he played into the corner  of an icon who is well respected and appears  to have a sound, if not perfect record at the  helm of his organization.
Not only that, that kind of approach doesn’t make a lot of sense because  the size of the ballot  is restricted to those  who are members of the organization in question. It is not like using such  a tool to play with the emotions of a country  as in a general election.
In other words, trying to persuade the average person to take sides can’t work if, as in this case, they don’t have BCA membership.
Therefore, I believe the best strategy would have been to work quietly behind the scenes for most of the campaign, having one-on-ones, making telephone calls, emails  and the like to coax prospective voters into your corner.
This shouldn’t be hard to achieve because the constituency to which  you speak is very narrow. The hardest part, of course, in every kind  of election is to make constituents buy into  your policies; to convince them that you have  the best programmes  for development  going forward.
The Garner/Riley scenario, as I pointed out in a previous column, has its peculiarities because they were generally seen as two peas in a pod, inseparable in every aspect (at least publicly) so some may still be coming to terms with  the split a lot more than what caused it.
It might be causing headaches for those who are now forced to take sides when at the last annual general meeting they voted for Garner  and Riley as a team.
It can very well come down to personality if not policy because I don’t think there’s too much variation in respect  of the latter.
Garner is an icon,  well respected for his contribution to West Indies cricket but he could be under threat if the insiders feel that he isn’t  a good administrator or that there has been no progress for local cricket under his leadership.
Riley, on the other hand, is a regular guy,  a foot soldier, scholarly and passionate about  the sport, someone  you can call at  midnight to deal  with a cricketing issue  and he would oblige.
But will the majority  of the electorate see  him as the person  to lead the association  or do they prefer him  in a supportive role  to the president?
That decision resides with those who can  vote tonight.
I wasn’t happy with certain aspects of the campaign but I hope  we realize that at  the end of the contest,  the best brains are  still needed to work  as a team for the  benefit of cricket  and cricketers  no matter who wins.
• Andi Thornhill  is an experienced,  award-winning freelance sports journalist.

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