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Changes and youth in West Indies cricket welcome

BY COLIN EH CROFT

Monday, April 01, 2013    

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CONGRATULATIONS to Jamaican Wycliffe "Dave" Cameron and Dominican Emmanuel Nanthan at being elected

to the ultra-important positions of President and vice president, respectively, West Indies Cricket Board. These are positive examples of youth not at all having been wasted on the young!

Observing Cameron and Nanthan posing for media photographs reminded me much of the youthful charisma that similarly oozed from 42nd President of United States William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton, and his pragmatic, highly professional Vice-President Albert "Al" Arnold Gore.

"Uncle Bill" was 47 when he became president in 1993. VP "Big Al" was 45. With that special mix of daring, charm and purpose, they brought such life and prosperity to USA in eight years in office that no one since, not even present President Barack Obama, can dare to compare.

In 1993, America not only wanted, but needed, tremendous change. After the warring exploits of "Old" George HW Bush. Clinton eventually managed to change 257 million minds into again believing in America. After John F Kennedy, Clinton is regularly considered to be one of America's best presidents.

In 2013, Cameron, 42, must have similar focus regarding his new position, to change the minds of most of the Caribbean populace, bringing needed harmony, so that they could again believe that West Indies cricket is indeed for all, and not only for moneyed "fat cats" who just sit in boxes drinking Champagne!

Cameron has been around West Indies cricket for a decade, having been a WICB director since 2002 and vice-president to Dr Julian Hunte, since 2007.

As a long-time insider, there must be consternation that he will probably continue along the course that West Indies cricket had taken these last several years.

I prefer to believe that Cameron and Nanthan will have recognised, by now, that West Indies cricket, while recently on the upswing, still needs much more energy and full involvement of all constituents, ex and present players, all businesses and every Caribbean inhabitant.

Nanthan became president of the Windward Islands Cricket Board of Control (WICBC) in 2008, replacing veteran administrator Lennox John, who was involved in West Indies cricket, like Dr Hunte, for eons.

It really was time for Windward Islands to change its outlook, personnel and objectives. Now, they are better placed, with Windsor Park emerging as one of the premier Caribbean cricket grounds, and WICBC's and Dominica's recent president now VP of West Indies Cricket Board — total upward mobility.

Technically, geographically, Dominica is more in the Leeward Islands, but has been a member of Windward Islands since 1940. Since his election as Windward Islands Cricket Board of Control President, Nanthan has overseen a welcomed visage change in Windward Islands cricket. The so-called "small islands" have been making big noises recently.

Nanthan did pull off a magnificent coup by beating a real legend of West Indies cricket, my former fast bowling partner, Joel Garner, by a whopping 8-4 votes.

Name recognition might feature in other environments, but "Big Bird" Garner has never had his wing-span clipped so decidedly anywhere previously.

I have great respect, and appreciation, for Dr Hunte and the tenure he has put in for West Indies cricket's survival. He has worked tremendously hard, trying to bring West Indies back to those distant past glory days, eventually enjoying at least one very recent world championship — ICC World T-20 in 2012.

Coincidentally, as if to salute his end of tenure, one of Dr Hunte's few missteps was again highlighted, on CNBC's American Greed, on the very same day of the WICB election. That day, R Allen Stanford's story was again shown, with Dr Hunte and English Cricket Board Chairman Giles Clarke featuring highly.

I prefer to remember Dr Hunte in a much more refreshing light, as he, then WICB VP, and his wife, threw one of the very best parties I have ever attended anywhere, at his home in St Lucia, to welcome the touring Pakistani and West Indies President's XI teams, in 1976/7.

Whatever "Big Bird" and I drank that night must have worked. We got 17 wickets between us in that game, debuting afterwards in the first Test in Barbados, where we also impressed. The rest is real West Indies history!

While I, too, agree that, like Windward Islands, West Indies cricket needs new, fresh leadership, everyone involved in our cricket over the last 35 years should applaud the efforts, continuity and mostly selflessness of Dr Hunte and his involvement in our cricket. Very few have given so much in a lifetime.

Dr Hunte's longevity brings us to another point. I strongly believe that the hierarchy of the West Indies Cricket Board should, like the United States of America, have no more than two terms in any such office.

America's policies do not always change, even if the leader — The President — must change after two terms. New personnel should bring fresh energies and new perspectives.

Notice that even though he promised to effect drastic changes, like closing Gauntanamo Bay military prison, President Obama still continues the edicts of "Young" Bush George W "Gitmo" is still open!

Dave Cameron and Emmanuel Nanthan have much work to do. Let us all wish them well!

Colin Croft is a former Guyana and West Indies cricketer.

c.e.h.croft@gmail.com

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