The task ahead for Mr Ricky Skerritt and his team

Saturday, March 30, 2019

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The recent resolution of a long-running separation dispute with former West Indies coach Mr Phil Simmons seems like a good start for the new president of Cricket West Indies Mr Ricky Skerritt.

It's a sad fact that divisiveness and bitter hostilities shadowed much of the good work done by the administration of his predecessor, Mr Dave Cameron.

Mr Skerritt has indicated that the speedy settlement with Mr Simmons and a public apology for perceived wrongs signal his intention to “repair” stakeholder relationships in West Indies cricket, and build unity.

As chairman of Caricom's subcommittee on cricket, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has said unification of the Caribbean cricket community and governance reforms are pressing issues before the new administration.

Equally, we think Mr Skerritt has made a very important point in calling for patience. While we must hold him and his running mate Dr Kishore Shallow to account towards fulfilling their 10-point plan for West Indies cricket, they will need time.

Also, Cricket West Indies is chronically short of money to do much of what needs to be done. For example, as Mr Skerritt has pointed out, restoration of a high performance centre (HPC) programme — extremely important though it is for growth and sustainability of the regional game — will be very expensive.

The Cameron administration acted wisely in acquiring the former Allen Stanford-owned Coolidge cricket ground in Antigua, partnering with the Antigua and Barbuda Government. That acquisition should mean that it will be much easier to host that HPC programme. Hopefully, a new sense of goodwill and optimism will make such a venture more attractive to potential corporate partners.

This newspaper applauds Mr Skerritt's intention to show respect, and find appropriate roles for the living legends of West Indies cricket and, presumably also, other past cricketers. But of course, it will have to be within reason, and subject to objective assessment of individual strengths and weaknesses. For example, outstanding cricketers don't automatically become good coaches or mentors. Often, the very opposite is true.

As Mr Skerritt and his team step forward, the pluses of the previous administration — including current contractual arrangements with more than 100 cricketers now playing at the regional level, and the home and away format at first-class level — must be built on. It's important to recognise that any cutback in those areas will be seen as failure.

As they seek to deal with issues of governance, accountability — not least in relation to money — must take priority. In our experience, there has long been a trust deficit at the leadership level of West Indies cricket. We think it fair to say that in recent years a swirl of reports and rumours of seemingly inappropriate spending and/or intent to spend, have brought that trust deficit to a new low.

Much is expected of the new cricket administration. But Mr Skerritt and his team should know that they can't be all things to all men. They must not expect to please everyone.

However, if at all times, they seek to ensure that West Indies cricket comes first, they won't go wrong.


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