PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti – Grenada’s Prime Minister, Dr Keith Mitchell, has urged CARICOM to re-visit the recommendations of the dormant Governance Report, and has also called on leaders to abandon “entrenched polarised positions”, in order to rescue West Indies cricket from its current crisis.
Addressing the two-day inter-sessional summit in Haiti, the out-spoken leader said West Indies cricket required an effective governance framework in order to flourish and warned unless this was done, the game would continue to “wallow in the land of under-performance and mismanagement.”
“[Cricket] is a regional public good and must therefore be the subject of a regulatory framework recognising its public good character,” Mitchell said, referencing the 2015 report which assessed West Indies cricket as a public good managed by a private company.
“Colleagues, I was heartened by the recommendations of the Prime Ministerial sub-committee on cricket which among other things, recognised that the public good nature of West Indies cricket, requires a forging of a governance framework that respects the rules and independence mandated by the [International Cricket Council] but which also provides a proper framework for all stakeholders in the governance of West Indies cricket.”
The CARICOM-commissioned Governance Review Panel, headed by UWI Cave Hill principal Professor Eudine Barriteau, authored the controversial report which as its main recommendation called for the “immediate dissolution of the West Indies Cricket Board and the appointment of an Interim Board whose structure and composition will be radically different from the now proven, obsolete governance framework.”
Dissolution, the panel said was a “fundamental and foundational requirement.”
The recommendations were rejected by the WICB (now Cricket West Indies), headed by president Dave Cameron, and slammed as an “impractical” and an “unnecessary and intrusive demand”.
Further, the board described the panel’s investigations as “limited in scope” and argued that had “triggered findings and recommendations … which are not supported by the facts.”
CWI, which is based in Antigua, received backing from the country’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne who said he “categorically rejected” the call for dissolution, contending it would plunge West Indies cricket into “further chaos and confusion.”
Browne’s apparent split with CARICOM on the matter subsequently led Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to warn last year that West Indies cricket was “threatening to destroy CARICOM itself”, especially after Mitchell’s criticisms of leaders who “agree on positions behind closed doors, only to return home and in the glare of the public, push a different agenda.”
A former head of CARICOM’s Prime Ministerial sub-committee on cricket, Mitchell on Monday called for unity among the regional heads while urging his successor, Vincentian Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, to ensure the overhaul of West Indies cricket remained on the front burner.
“Colleagues, we must move beyond entrenched polarised positions which have not been helpful to the re-emergence of West Indies cricket supremacy,” Mitchell told the gathering.
“I urge the chairman of the sub-committee and my very good friend Ralph Gonsalves to seriously re-examine the recommendations and champion our approach to addressing these issues, so that West Indies cricket does not continue to wallow in the land of under-performance and mismanagement.”
He added: “Colleagues of necessity, this community must also address the lack of internal cooperation on significant issues.”
As evidence of the crisis in which West Indies cricket found itself, Mitchell pointed to the team’s participation in an ICC qualifying tournament starting in Zimabwe next week, in order to secure one of the two remaining places at the World Cup in England next year.
Two-time former champions, the Windies failed in their bid for automatic qualification after winning just three of 23 One-Day Internationals last year, to be ninth in the ICC rankings at the September 30 cut-off date.
Hosts England, along with the remaining top seven ranked team, gained direct qualification.
“We note they are now involved in a playoff for a place in a game that we were at the highest level not long ago,” Mitchell lamented. – CMC