Heaven, Neita open to collaborative effortSaturday, March 02, 2019
BY SANJAY MYERS
RE-ELECTED Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) President Wilford “Billy” Heaven and vanquished challenger Mark Neita have both expressed willingness to collaborate for the betterment of the sport islandwide.
Heaven garnered 62 votes to Neita's 37 in the JCA presidential race at Medallion Hall Hotel on Thursday, securing a third-straight two-year tenure.
But despite the central differences highlighted during the campaign, there appears a door open for reconciliation.
“Sure, if I'm offered a position I'll certainly give it consideration,” Neita, who was second vice-president during Heaven's previous term, told journalists after results were declared.
“I still want to serve cricket; I'm always passionate about the game and passionate about giving back to society. I will continue to serve the game in whatever capacity that is appropriate,” added Neita, who had previously declared that he will step down as Melbourne Cricket Club president at the end of this year.
Heaven, the chief executive officer of the State-run Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund, was in the mood to mend fences after the inevitable bruising which comes during an election run-off.
“We need the support of everybody, and that is the first order of business — to get us back together on the same page for the benefit of Jamaica's cricket,” he said.
Regarding the possibility of engaging the services of his former lieutenant, the JCA boss added: “It will require some consideration and some conversation. Mr Neita had said that there were fundamental differences in the way I plan to direct the development of cricket vis-a-vis the way he plans to develop cricket in Jamaica.”
On the campaign trail, Neita, a former national batsman, had been critical of the recent decline in Jamaica's competitiveness on the field of play at senior and age group levels, and its impact on sagging spectator and sponsorship interest.
Neita had promised that his focus as president would have been to implement measures to improve the standard of cricket and to fuel interest in the sport.
Heaven had defended the work of his administration, pointing to the JCA's improved accountability, transparency and commitment to tax compliance. He had also said that his youth cricket development programme will bring about long-term rewards.
After the delegates made their preference overwhelmingly clear on Thursday, Neita said it is time to fall in line.
“I've always said that I don't have anything personal against 'Billy' Heaven. It's just that I thought that we were moving in the wrong direction where cricket is concerned.
“Obviously, the delegates have spoken and they are quite comfortable with what is happening in the game of cricket. I, like everybody else, will throw my support behind him [Heaven] with hope that we can improve the game and move it forward.
“I still think I have a role to play. I will take a little time out to relax and take a deep breath, but certainly going forward I would like to see how I can fit in to help the game,” Neita concluded.
The election exercise, which formed part of the association's annual general meeting, was a sweep for Heaven's executive.
Dr Donovan Bennett was returned unopposed to the first vice-president post.
Fritz Harris beat Nehemiah Perry 64-34 in the second vice-president race; Diann Campbell defeated Neil Reese 73-25 for the secretary spot; Clinton Clarke got the better of Major Aubyn Sibblies 71-26 in the battle for assistant secretary; Kerry Scott had a 75-23 victory over Nigel Logan for the position of treasurer; and Michael Atterbury turned back the challenge of Errol Moodie 68-29 for the post of assistant treasurer.
Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login