Columns

Put off that WICB election

BY RAY FORD

Tuesday, March 26, 2013    

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WHENEVER the opportunities arise, our heads of Government are always judicious to point out the following: how important West Indies cricket is to the Caribbean region; how unifying it is; how it was one of our first collective successes; how it put the Caribbean on the world stage; how much joy it has brought to fans all over the world; how we revere the names and value the contributions of Sir Learie Constantine, Sir Frank Worrell, Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Everton Weekes, Sir Vivian Richards, and lastly, how much we cherish these high-calibre individuals.

You needn't be reminded that things we cherish need our constant vigil, and at times may even need our protection. When our physical stock of land is under threat from, or has been compromised by the vicissitudes of catastrophic natural disaster, we respond with collective alacrity and even welcome assistance from beyond the region to arrest the degradation, and to replenish and to restore.

Would it be, therefore, with all its attributes and stated sentimentalities, too much to characterise cricket as our intellectual property? No nation on earth plays the game with such a patented flair, and never have so many tears, across the boundaries of nation states, been shed for the demise of one of our flagship entities.

It is against this backdrop that I call on our heads of government, not to ignore what might well happen tomorrow, March 27, 2013. If you do, history will neither smile on you, nor forgive you. Not when you had the chance to rudder our great game back on the right course and to pull this unquestionable Caribbean unifier up from out of its downward spiral.

On principle, one may now be tempted to conveniently proffer that the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) is a private entity, and should be allowed to operate as such, washed clean of Government intervention. I will quickly, though, remind that no Caribbean territory, not one, can say that they have not -- at one stage or the other -- found it fit to persuade, chide, cry foul to, demand an explanation from, protest, or question an action of the WICB, when it is deemed required in the interest of fair play, peace and justice.

Now is the time, therefore, to collectively intervene, as a body whose sole purpose is to lead the charge to a higher calling to correct a broken structure. The entire network of Caribbean people must feel interconnected and have a stake in keeping the game of cricket in good order.

I ask that our heads of state, as a body, not only consider, but act decisively to enable a halt to the March 27 elections. This will allow a rethink on how to re-fashion West Indies cricket before another sordid page is added to its history.

Honourable heads of Government, when it was released on the respected Internet site ESPNcricinfo.com that one Mr Clive Lloyd had not garnered the second nomination needed for him to be considered for the office of president of the WICB, the outpouring of comments was global, profound in amazement, shock and sympathy.

Had the Caribbean region not learnt from unceremoniously dismissing one of their own? History books are filled with tear-soaked pages of how, when confronted by the proverbial forks in the road, on almost every occasion, we took the wrong turns.

Luckily for us, Mr CLR James was successful in his campaign to get the right man, Sir Frank Worrell, to be appointed captain of the West Indies team to Australia in 1960-61. And it was on that tour that Sir Frank distinguished himself as a leader, a statesman, a diplomat, a unifier, and a globally recognised figure among cricketing nations.

And now, we are rapidly approaching another fork in the road -- the election of a new president for the WICB. The patient is being strapped to its gurney and its veins are being prepared to be injected with either one of two administrations that the Caribbean people clearly do not want.

Dr Hunte's time in office has not been stellar. And, of Mr Wycliffe Cameron, little or nothing is known, except for the fact that he understudied Dr Hunte. The manifestos of both gentlemen would have been better received if they had placed more importance on restoring the quality of our performance at the Test level and using the sport to help build character among our young people.

Instead, the challenger brazenly states: "My focus will be to lead a team to refocus cricket's attention on being the highest income earner for sport in the region."

West Indies cricket, under the Hunte-Cameron regime, has been fraught with too many missteps, as well-intentioned as they might have been. From flirting with Mr Allen Stanford, to marginalising and effectively muzzling the voice of the Caribbean people during what should have been in 2007 their Cricket World Cup. Not to mention their using T20 cricket to mark our accomplishments, while knowing well that it is by our success in Test cricket that our cricketing success is rightfully indexed.

Honourable heads of Government, do not act on my word alone. Listen to two of our most respected, trusted and venerable voices -- those of the doyen cricket journalist Mr Tony Cozier, and the level-headed social commentator Mr Rickey Singh.

In essence, the former has, in his wisdom, chosen not to endorse either of the two legitimate candidates for the office in question. And the latter is lamenting the exclusion of Mr Clive Hubert Lloyd -- a studied disciple and exquisite practitioner of the Sir Frank Worrell doctrine of progress for us, and fair play with others.

I encourage our dear leaders to do the right thing and somehow, some way, ensure that Mr Clive Lloyd -- the people's candidate -- is in the process. Postponing the execution of West Indies cricket, scheduled for tomorrow, would be a good first step.

Ray Ford is a Jamaican journalist who is based in the United States.

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