Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 6th 2014 Contents NOVEMBER 2014 • WEEK ONE www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COMMENTARY | BG17
In a letter to the President of the West Indies
Cricket Board of Control (WICB), Whycliffe
Dave Cameron, the Prime Minister of St
Vincent and the Grenadines Dr Ralph Gon-
salves made a compelling statement about
the existential threat to West Indian cricket.
He said, "I do not think this huge, complicated matter
can be handled in an "ad hoc" manner or by the
WICB alone. This is an extraordinary enterprise which
takes us beyond the boundary".
How right he is about the scale of the problem.
The West Indies Cricket team and the University
of the West Indies (UWI) are the only two remaining
entities that are both the unanimous expression of
the West Indian peoples unity and their collective
capacity to compete favourably in the world.
Undoubtedly, West Indian cricket has now been
dealt a mortal blow. The enormous financial conse-
quences of the team s abrupt termination of their
tour of India are far reaching. The WICB is in no
position to repay the Board of Control for Cricket in
India (BCCI) the estimated US$65 million in revenue
losses. If the BBCI presses its claim with a law suit,
the WICB will not only be unable to raise credit, it
will also have no money for the development of
cricket, including paying the many players now on
The grave financial effects are bad enough, but
even worse is the damage done to West Indian cricket.
There are obvious protracted and troubling differences
between the West Indian cricketers and the WICB.
But, whatever those differences are, the manner of
resolving them should not have been a public walk
out of a tour of India before the television cameras
of the cricketing world. That single act shamed the
people of the West Indies and injured the reputation
of West Indian cricket. The action was simply not
the West Indian way and washed dirty linen in public
in a disgraceful manner.
The act was that of the team, but the blame must
be shared by the WICB. The festering sore of West
Indian cricket administration has not been cured
despite many attempts to do so, not least the 2007
report of a three-person committee headed by former
Jamaican Prime Minister PJ Patterson.
West Indian people have watched the West Indies
team---once the king of all they surveyed, sweeping
away the mightiest of cricketing nations---sink to
number eight in the International Cricket Council
Test rankings ahead only of Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.
As the performance of the West Indies team declined,
so did the pride of the West Indian people and the
belief in themselves. And the latter point is the most
important---the deep and hurtful wound to the West
Indian peoples self-esteem.
There is little to which the West Indian people can
point that establishes them as meaningful competitors
and champions in the world. While we have had
phenomenal athletes from a few countries that have
given the entire West Indies great joy---Usain Bolt,
simply par excellence among them---they have been
national representatives in narrow fields. The two
most notable areas of West Indian civilisation that
have distinguished the West Indies in the world are
cricket and the talent produced by the UWI.
On the UWI, it is singular in its accomplishments
despite severe challenges that face it. Over the past
five years, the university produced 46,000 graduates.
Where would the Caribbean be without them and
hundreds of thousands of qualified persons graduated
since the UWI began in 1948?
Despite this record, some governments owe the
UWI millions of dollars and want to reduce their
contributions. Private sector support is also insuf-
ficient. Yet, as I had occasion to say recently, the
UWI "has added considerable value to the talent of
thousands of Caribbean citizens who now work in
high-flying positions in developed countries. The
university has also produced many of our region s
present leaders in government---17 prime ministers
among them---and in the private sector. It has also
produced a multitude of men and women who are
putting to work for the betterment of our region the
knowledge they acquired in this institution".
Without the UWI, the West Indian-Caribbean
region would not have achieved the level of devel-
opment it has today. But, it too is under threat if
governments and the private sector do not step-up
to ensure its continued contribution to West Indian
Now calamity has overtaken West Indian cricket.
Governments will have to step in to resolve, through
diplomatic means, the major financial problem that
the players abandonment of the tour of India has
created. The resolution will require employing the
most credible high-level West Indians to secure the
Indian government s intervention with the BCCI to
work out an arrangement that will not kill West
But, even if that issue is resolved, the West Indies
will still be faced with the chronic and persistent
problem that the game by which they define them-
selves in the world---and, indeed by which much of
the world defines them -- is no longer about superior
performance and West Indian pride and dignity.
Sadly, it has descended to power struggles and personal
All of this is why Prime Minister Gonsalves is right
that, addressing the devastation that events sur-
rounding West Indian cricket has caused, is an extraor-
dinary enterprise which takes us "beyond the bound-
Throughout the West Indies, people are angry.
They feel a deep sense of being let down and of being
deprived of something precious to their souls. Yes,
the matter is about the West Indian cricketers; yes,
it is also about the administration of West Indian
cricket and the WICB; but beyond everything else
it is about the ethos and self-worth of the West
Indian person. That is what is at stake; and all the
parties should keep that foremost in their minds.
The writer is a consultant, senior fellow at Lon-
don University and former Caribbean diplomat
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Not only cricket,
but West Indian
self-worth at stake
West Indian people have watched the
West Indies team---once the king of all
they surveyed, sweeping away the
mightiest of cricketing nations---sink
to number eight in the International
Cricket Council Test rankings ahead
only of Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.
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