A positive development that could possibly result from the most recent fracas involving the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) is a much needed revival of interest in what's commonly known as The Patterson Report on West Indies Cricket.
This sentiment is firmly shared by the West Indies Players' Association (WIPA), whose president, Dinanath Ramnarine, this week welcomed the recent decision by Jamaica's Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller to refer a dispute her Government has with the WICB for discussion at the meeting of Caricom Heads of Government in Suriname, starting on March 8.
Last week, Simpson Miller took a verbal swipe at the WICB for being "crude and rude" in its public statement relating to her complaint against Jamaica's exclusion from any of the scheduled matches for Australia's coming tour of the region.
Strong criticisms against the WICB were to follow in the prime minister's favour from the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) and the local media, as well as from the state-owned Sunday Chronicle newspaper in Guyana.
There, the Government in Georgetown has also come under criticisms from the WICB for establishing an interim management committee (IMC) under the chairmanship of the legendary Clive Lloyd in place of the local cricket body to help provide a new dispensation in the development of cricket in Guyana.
To compound problems between Jamaica and the WICB, as the governing body for regional cricket the board's directors were to further fuel anger from the JCA by its latest rejection at the weekend of a reinstatement of Chris Gayle to the West Indies cricket team.
Chris Gayle fiasco
The fiasco over Gayle's exclusion from the regional team followed his refusal to apologise for criticisms he had levelled last year against coach Otis Gibson and the board's directors.
However, following a meeting of the WICB in St Lucia at the weekend, it has been disclosed that its president, Julian Hunte, plans on travelling to Jamaica shortly to offer an apology to Prime Minister Simpson Miller for "inappropriate" remarks directed at her.
Simpson Miller had earlier also appealed for a resolution to the lingering dispute that keeps Gayle from participating in West Indies cricket. The board has been insisting on an apology from Gayle before reinstatement.
In his comment, WIPA President Ramnarine said that while the board was insisting on an apology from Gayle, it must recognise it has an obligation to "discipline" those within its own ranks who had framed and distributed to the media the WICB's personal attack on the Jamaican prime minister, whether or not it was done with the prior approval of President Hunte.
According to Ramnarine, the WICB, as currently structured and governed, cannot be allowed to continue "repeating errors of judgement" and frustrating relations with players and governments, "knowing that regional cricket depends on practical support from governments and the public... Our cricket is simply not a property of the WICB which continues to reveal its incapacities..."
Well, if the Caricom leaders are truly interested at their coming Inter-Sessional meeting in Paramaribo to arrest the spreading problems in regional cricket, then it is felt that they simply have to go beyond addressing Simpson Miller's complaints against the WICB.
A very informative and eloquently outlined brief on the urgent need to introduce a new and quite enlightened governance structure for West Indies cricket has been gathering dust in government offices.
It is officially known as the Governance Committee on West Indies Cricket Report of October 2007 -- the work of an illustrious team of Caribbean thinkers, headed by Jamaica's retired Prime Minister PJ Patterson.
Focus in Suriname
A most comprehensive report, it was the result of a mandate that had its origin at a Caricom Summit in Castries in 2006 under the chairmanship of then Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony. It was carried out while the former media mogul, Ken Gordon, was serving as WICB president.
It is perhaps fortuitous that Prime Minister Simpson Miller is now referring "crude and rude" behaviour by the WICB for the March 8-9 meeting in Paramaribo when President Desi Bouterse is serving as chairman of the Community and aware that Suriname holds portfolio responsibility among Heads of Government for "sports" in addition to culture and gender affairs.
Also to be participating will be Prime Minister Anthony, whose own contributions at the 2006 Caricom Summit had influenced the creation of the Patterson-led team that produced major recommendations for giving West Indies cricket a visionary new lease of life.
In the circumstances, therefore, the meeting of the Community's political leaders can hardly discuss current disputes involving the WICB without also showing a much wider and urgent interest in what's popularly referred to as The Patterson Report on West Indies cricket.