These include the ability to hold one’s own counsel and knowing when it is most opportune to speak, especially publicly. These skills, we believe, would have served the prime minister well in the spat she recently ignited with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) over the Chris Gayle affair.
A few preliminary points are important.
First, the WICB displayed an absolute lack of tact, if not disregard for protocol, in its response to the prime minister, especially a popularly elected one like Mrs Simpson Miller, who presides over the Government of a major part of the West Indies cricketing constituency.
Additionally, while we have issue with the conduct of Gayle, we feel that the WICB surrendered the moral high ground on the matter by failing to allow its own dispute-resolution and disciplinary mechanism to function in this case. The board, in this respect, may have breached natural justice.
Simpson Miller jumped the gun
However, by conflating her nationalist sentiment with her roles as the minister with whom the portfolio of sports ultimately resides, and her job as prime minister, Mrs Simpson Miller left herself little room for tactical manoeuvre. Any substantial and effective action on her part now will most likely be deliberately muscular, rather than subtle.
For having, in her speech to the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA), publicly complained about Chris Gayle’s continued exclusion from the West Indies team, and Jamaica’s absence from recent international fixtures, Mrs Simpson Miller placed herself on the front line of the dispute, rather than a subsequent point of reference and potential arbiter.
In that regard, the prime minister, in her speech, might have dealt with the broader issues of governance in West Indies cricket and the state of the game in the region, and offered perspectives on renewal. The specifics of Gayle, and which territories got or will get international matches, ought not, at this stage, to have been at the forefront of prime ministerial intervention.
Use up Neita-Headley
Indeed, Mrs Simpson Miller has assigned to her office Natalie Neita-Headley, as minister of Cabinet rank, with responsibility for sport, who must be in constant and frustrating search for things with which to fill her time.
If the Government felt that the treatment of Chris Gayle and the scheduling of Test matches for Jamaica were matters of policy importance for the administration, its concerns might properly have been raised by Mrs Neita-Headley. The prime minister would be the office to which further developments would be referenced, without the PM having yet been burdened with a hard position.
This, we are almost certain, would have been the approach of Mr Patterson.
Hopefully, Mrs Simpson Miller will not be drawn into a tit for tat with the WICB. Moreover, it would make sense for the board’s president, Julian Hunte, if he has not yet done so, to have a chat with Mrs Simpson Miller about the events and to apologise for the intemperate statement from his organisation. Such discussion might advance ideas for the resuscitation of the game without a government takeover of the sport.