We are responding to the letter ‘The Berbice Cricket Board is the most transparent cricket body in the Caribbean” (SN, December 17). The title of the letter is a matter of some concern. The basis for such a claim would have to be accompanied by a study of all cricket boards in the region including all sub-regional bodies and the necessary criteria by which such an assessment is to be conducted. We are not aware that such a study exists.
Second, the letter signed by Ms Angela Haniff, Secretary of the Berbice Cricket Board, is in response to one by Rishee Thakur complaining of the final of the T/20 tournament in the Upper Corentyne on December 9. Two issues were raised in Dr Thakur’s letter: a) the expected sums in prize money did not show up; and b) the holding of a meeting/election that appeared secretive and private.
Dr Thakur’s letter was only partly correct. The sum of $200,000 that he indicated should also include the sums derived from fees at gate, sales of the food/bar plus the sum provided by local businessmen. In fact if Ms Haniff’s numbers are correct (“the finals at Skeldon attracted over five hundred spectators”) then we have at least another $100,000 and more from this source.
What Dr Thakur did not know and could not comment on was the paltry and insulting sum of $1,000 each provided to best batsman and best bowler. Even one businessman who sponsored the tournament and was willing to speak on it expressed surprise and concern at the trifling sums made available for prize money. Ms Haniff must be forgiven for not being on the ground to know the hype that accompanied the process. She appears to be writing only what she is being told. In the end Ms Haniff refuses to accept the fact that without clear written instructions as to the amount of the prize money before the competition got underway the process would be open to abuse.
The second issue that Dr Thakur’s letter commented on was the meeting. Again, for those on the ground the process was clear. The meeting was arranged by individual phone calls, announced as a private matter (“Teams that were so informed were asked to meet in the pavilion for the promised meeting”) and conducted as an assembly of a select group. The other question that is of concern is the authority of the executive of the BCB to call, instruct and supervise elections of an independent unit (the supposed UCCA) within the BCB. We hardly need raise questions about the validity/legitimacy of a returning officer, or the validity/legitimacy of those who are invited to participate – these are given by the sole authority of the executive of the BCB. We can well imagine one fine morning a select group of executives of the Berbice Board landing in Rose Hall Town, announcing a meeting for elections, indicating that the electors have already been privately selected and telling the natives to select from among those so selected to represent them in a new club.
What was equally questionable was the obvious presence of businessmen and bankers in the private room at the Back Centre meeting. No one was fooled when the Manager NBS, Corriverton Branch, was selected/elected Treasurer of the new UCCA to accompany his colleague the Treasurer of the BCB and Manager of the New Amsterdam Branch NBS.
As if that was not bad enough, one person representing himself as the new Treasurer of the UCCA to local clubs has been seeking support for fund-raising while claiming to be a member of the No 69/Vikings Cricket Club. For those of us who have been playing cricket with, against, and for 69/Vikings over the last twenty years we have never seen a banker or any such person on either the field of play or the pavilion.
Ms Haniff claims that cricket is a sport and Dr Thakur should not mix it with politics. What specifically the gentleman had to say that was political she did not say. But we can well imagine what was intensely political about what he did say. Here is what we believe he said: a) the process of organizing the Upper Corentnye T/20 Tournament was unfair and insulting; b) the election meeting was private, secretive and lacked transparency – imposed by the executive of the BCB that does not have the authority to do so. Decidedly, and most political. We are disappointed that Ms Haniff cannot see this since it was precisely on these grounds that she, as Secretary of the BCB, took the GCB to court and produced Justice Chang’s famous ruling – “non entity” including the BCB.
Lastly, we are equally concerned at the personal attacks against Dr Thakur. Very few of these either make sense or contribute to the debate. What they do suggest, however, is the increasing lack of a reasoned reply or the Grecian strategy – kill the messenger and the bad message will go away!
B Latchminarine, L Autar