WICB urged to seek CARICOM mediation

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The players walk off the field during the India tour.
The players walk off the field during the India tour.

[www.inewsguyana.com] – As has become routine through its several crises over the past decade, the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) has again been urged to seek the help of the inter-governmental Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in resolving potentially its most destructive dilemma yet.

In a letter to WICB President, Dave Cameron, addressed to ‘Your Excellency’ and dated October 23, St Vincent and the Grenadines prime minister Ralph Gonsalves specifies the “preemptory and premature termination” of the West Indies tour of India.

While recognising the “sole judiciary authority of the WICB to address the mountain of difficulties at hand”, he recommended the urgent assembling of a three-member CARICOM group to help in finding “satisfactory ways out of the many-sided impasse”.

Gonsalves proposed that the group comprise Antigua and Barbuda prime minister Gaston Browne, who is also the current chairman of Caricom, Grenada’s Prime Minister Keith Mitchell and former Jamaica Prime Minister PJ Patterson. He cited the “profound interest in West Indies cricket” of Mitchell, a former Grenada player who has previously arbitrated in disputes between the two organisations, and Patterson’s “heroic historic engagements with West Indies cricket and the WICB [that] are legendary and productive”.

Patterson had headed a committee on the governance of West Indies cricket that presented its extensive report, widely referred to as the Patterson Report, to the WICB in October, 2007. He has since complained that its most critical points have never been implemented.

Gonsalves also put himself forward “to assist in any appropriate capacity”, noting that there were other qualified persons in both the public and private sectors who could be called on.

He noted that he had been “centrally involved”, along with former Antigua and Barbuda prime minister Baldwin Spencer and Patterson, in resolving “the celebrated standoff” between the WICB and former captain Chris Gayle in 2012. Gayle was not picked for West Indies for 15 months because of the dispute.

Gonsalves suggested four main subjects for discussion between the WICB and his projected CARICOM group.

Two concern the specific issue of the abandonment of the India tour. They are the resolution of the current dispute between the WICB, the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) and the players, and the settlement of the “many-sided tug-and-pull” between the WICB and the BCCI.

Two are more general. They would concentrate on the sustainable funding of West Indies cricket and the renewal of dialogue between the WICB and CARICOM’s prime ministerial sub-committee on cricket on “further possible reforms in the management and administrative systems of WICB and West Indies cricket”.

Gonsalves expressed doubts that such “a huge and complicated matter” could be handled in an ad hoc manner or by the WICB alone.

“This is an extraordinary enterprise which takes us ‘beyond the boundary’,” he wrote. “The satisfactory and sustainable resolution of the composite problematic calls for exceptional leadership, a well-articulated strategic path and a bundle of wise and feasible tactical approaches.

“The ultimate goal is wrapped up in a process for the survival, consolidation and renaissance of West Indies cricket.”

West Indies cricket has been this way before.

CARICOM’s sub-committee on cricket, under prime minister Mitchell, brokered an end to a disagreement between the WICB and WIPA over players’ contracts when the Irish mobile phone company, Digicel, replaced Cable & Wireless, its main rival in the region, as sponsor. The row had threatened West Indies’ participation in a triangular ODI series in Australia in early 2005.

CARICOM again stepped in to secure a provisional agreement between the two sides that led to the 2009 strike for the home series against Bangladesh and the omission of the involved players from the subsequent Champions Trophy in South Africa. The accord allowed a full strength West Indies team to undertake a tour of three Tests and a triangular ODI series in Australia in 2009-10.

Caricom’s 32nd summit in St Kitts in 2011 mandated its cricket sub-committee to engage with WICB and WIPA while the two parties were involved in another one of their disputes.

In 2012, CARICOM was once more given the task of sorting out the controversy over the Guyana government’s replacement of the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) with an Interim Management Committee. This issue has dragged on, causing scheduled Tests against Australia and New Zealand over the past three years to be shifted away from Guyana. (Cricinfo)

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