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CARICOM to Intervene to Help Find Solutions for West Indies Cricket

The focus of blame and responsibility shifted to the coaches, the managers, the selectors and even the grounds staff, whom many felt were not preparing the right types of pitches for our bowlers. Everyone has been blamed, of course, except the players who continue to produce the lowest standards, no matter who is in charge.

The remedies for success and the path to recovery were even placed in the hands of CARICOM governments and one former Prime Minister, Jamaica’s PJ Patterson, in 2007, was appointed to head a special governance committee, designed to find a formula that would enhance the quality of management of the sport and to guarantee a more open and transparent system of management that was to lead to greater accountability. All this it was felt would make the West Indies team, eventually, a better unit, with all the required resources to again conquer all competitors in the sport. It failed because the report has never been seriously considered for implementation.

Now we are back at it again. This time influenced by the ongoing controversy surrounding the exclusion of former captain Chris Gayle, from the regional team. The new interest by CARICOM Heads of Government has been sparked also by the omission of Jamaica from the itinerary of the pending Australia tour of the Caribbean, though they are scheduled to host matches in the tour of New Zealand that follows a few months after.

In response to all this, Jamaica’s Prime Minister, Portia Simpson made known her displeasure at a recent event hosted by the Jamaica Cricket Board. Her comments were speedily rebuked by the West Indies Cricket Board…and so the battle of disagreement has been continuing. And though WICB president, Julian Hunte was expected in Kingston, the Jamaican capital, to help cool tempers and find a resolution, reports are that he never showed and no explanation was provided.

So off went Prime Minister Simpson to Suriname last weekend for the latest meeting of CARICOM Heads. At that meeting CARICOM leaders took the decision to try to intervene with the hope of resolving the issue.

According to a release from the St. Kitts & Nevis Prime Minister, and former Chairman of CARICOM, Dr. Denzil Douglas, who recently returned from the 23rd Inter-Sessional meeting in Suriname, regional leaders agreed to seek an urgent meeting between the Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on Cricket and the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), before the end of March 2012, to try and resolve several issues.

In this regard, they received a report presented by the Government of Guyana, with respect to the ongoing situation in that country. Recently the Guyana government took action to establish its own committee to govern cricket in that country, despite there already being a similar committee, put in place by the Guyana Cricket Board. Both entities went further to select and name two separate cricket squads to represent the nation in the current regional 4 Day tournament. However the West Indies Cricket Board made known its intention to approve and recognize only the team chosen by the Guyana Cricket Board. And so that battle also continues today.

The mandate given to the CARICOM sub-committee includes a mediation role in the on-going disputes between Mr Christopher Gayle and the WICB as well as issues related to the governance of cricket, said a communiqué.

In the latter regard, the sub-Committee will review the state of implementation of the Patterson Report on Governance of West Indies Cricket in collaboration with the WICB.

Heads of Government were of the view that the recent statement by the WICB responding to the Prime Minister of Jamaica was insensitive, out of order and disappointing, said the CARICOM release.

While there is indeed a role to be played by Caribbean governments, it must also be respected that West Indies Cricket has a structure. And in that structure, it is the “people” and cricket clubs of the region, who are members of the respective territorial boards, who are the main players who must act to change the direction of the management of the sport. Not governments.

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