A host of West Indies legends including Garry Sobers, Viv Richards, Wes Hall and Andy Roberts have called upon the WICB to dissolve the board, in line with the CARICOM cricket review panel’s recommendation, and appoint an interim committee as part of the structural reforms that would enable the region’s cricket to “develop and flourish”.
On April 14 in Grenada, converging under the umbrella banner of Cricket Legends, Sobers and Co. met with Grenada premier Keith Mitchell, chairman of the Prime Ministerial Committee on the Governance of West Indies Cricket, which appointed the review panel in the wake of the crisis that emerged in the wake of West Indies’ withdrawal from India’s tour in October 2014.
Also present at the meeting were other former West Indies players – allrounder Roger Harper; fast bowler Charlie Griffith; wicketkeeper Deryck Murray, who was also member of the CARICOM review panel, legspinner Dinanath Ramnarine, who was previously the president of the West Indies Players Association (WIPA), and opening batsman, Desmond Haynes. Rudi Webster, who was the team manager during Clive Lloyd’s time and worked as a psychologist with current World T20-winning captain Darren Sammy, were invited as guests.
Tearing into the WICB with the same vigour that they reserved for their opponents in their playing days, the Legends decried the board’s “oligarchic structure” which has remained “unchanged in attitude and structure” for the past seven decades. “During the last two decades, many different presidents and CEOs have led the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and yet, its performance has declined steadily with each passing year,” the Legends said in a media release. “The Board is an oligarchic structure that considers itself answerable to no one but itself. It is one of the few sporting institutions that have remained virtually unchanged in attitude and structure in the last 70 years or more.”
The Legends said the WICB could not shield itself from such vehement opposition by calling itself a private body. They agreed with the CARICOM panel’s view that the board was accountable to various governments in the Caribbean. The release also pointed out the boards in Australia and New Zealand had overhauled their governance structure for the better and that had been reflected in their various teams prospering in all forms of the game. Even the most powerful cricketing board, BCCI, the Legends observed, was under pressure from India’s Supreme Court to open up to radical reforms to its governance structure. “Inexplicably, the WICB prefers to maintain the status quo and yet, it expects to get different results while it continues to do the same things,” the release said.
The five-member review panel comprising Murray, V. Eudine Barriteau, Sir Dennis Byron, Dwain Gill and Warren Smith concluded its report on October 15, in which it described the WICB as “obsolete”. The board plainly rejected the panel’s report saying none of the six territorial boards – Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana, Leeward Islands and Windward Islands – were represented, nor its directors, clubs and representatives. Hence, it concluded, the panel’s findings were not supported by facts. Recently former West Indies fast bowler Joel Garner, president of the Barbados Cricket Association, was critical of the CARICOM panel’s observations, questioning how some members of the WICB could suddenly be called “illegal” when they were formed according to the individual constitutions of the region’s countries. Although some of these former players have voiced opposition against the WICB in the past two decades, this is the first time they have formed a united front of opposition.
“We are very proud of our legacy,” the release said. “We cannot now in good conscience stand idly by and watch everything that we fought so hard to build and achieve disappear right before our eyes because of the actions of inept Board members and an incompetent Board.”