(CMC) Caricom chairman Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit urged regional leaders to be less confrontational than they have been previously in addressing the parlous state of West Indies cricket.
A number of regional prime ministers have been vocal about the present state of the game in the region, with the Grenada Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell and St Vincent & the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves leading the charge for reform of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB).
Antigua & Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne has come out to bat for the sport’s regional governing body, however, in defiance of his colleagues, as well as a damning joint Caricom/WICB report which called for the dissolution of the WICB.
Skerrit said the reaction of his counterparts on the issue was their passion for the game boiling over and a strong desire to see the West Indies men’s team, in particular, be far more competitive.
But he advised them it would be better for them to use their energies to collaborate with the WICB on a way forward for the game in the region.
“We have to avoid the confrontation because it will only be a distraction,” said Skerrit on the State-owned DBS Radio. “We have to see where are the positives and where are the weaknesses and chip in to build on the strengths and fortify the weaknesses.
“We all love the game. It has been a unifying force in our Caribbean society and I think the anxiety that people have — and the leaders have expressed their views — is real concern.”
Skerrit added: “As regionalists, they want to see our team winning consistently again and want to know what they can do for that to happen, so I do not think it is anything personal against anybody, whether the person is a WICB director or not.
“I think it has to do with a passion that these gentlemen have for the game and they have expressed themselves in a passionate way. They have their views. They have their perspectives. I think it is better for us, however, to sit around the table with the WICB in a respectful manner and be dispassionate about West Indies cricket and see what we can do.
“When West Indies is winning, it brings joy and pride to every one of our faces, so we are prepared to work with everybody to come up with a solution and help to further develop the game.”
Skerrit said he would like to see the private sector in the region play a greater role in developing the sport.
“We would all love to see our cricket team get back to winning consistently,” said Skerrit. “I believe there has to be more discipline at all levels and a greater commitment from the private sector to cricket and its development.
“Each one of us has to see what contribution we can make to get us back to the level where we can win, and win consistently. We have tried in our own little way in Dominica by setting up a local cricket academy. We have assisted the cricket association with funding to provide training for a number of young aspiring players, and these are the kinds of things we need to do for cricket development.”
West Indies are currently ranked eighth in the World in Tests and One-Day Internationals, but they are rated fourth in Twenty20 Internationals, having won the World Cup in this format twice in the last five years.