Fiasco, farce, farrago, embarrassment, debacle, disgrace – just some of the more polite utterances following the abandonment of play on the opening morning of the aborted Second Test Match between the West Indies and England, at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, at North Sound, in Antigua.

Friday, February 13, 2009 was a very black Friday indeed for West Indies cricket and for the region’s reputation in general, after just 10 balls had been bowled in a sandpit masquerading as a cricket ground. North Sound – we find it painful to use the official name of the stadium, which we consider an insult to the great man – was clearly under-prepared and dangerous for bowlers and fielders.

From the moment the unsatisfactory state of the playing area became obvious on television our shame was on display to the world. The outrage and embarrassment across the region were palpable.

Ever since the ground was rushed into play for the 2007 Cricket World Cup, it had been found wanting and it was clearly sub-standard during last year’s Test against Australia. Even with remedial work since then, the warning signs and the mutterings of discontent had been visible and audible to all but the most seriously visually and hearing impaired.

But not, it appears, to the Antigua Cricket Association (ACA), the Leeward Islands Cricket Association (LICA) and the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB). These august bodies, responsible either for the preparation of the ground or for passing it fit to host a Test match, chose instead to stick their collective heads in the thousands of tonnes of sand imported into the stadium and dubbed by the wags as Antigua’s 366th beach.

From Master Blaster to sandblaster, you might say. But this is no joking matter. The WICB has lurched from fiasco to fiasco over the past several years, grossly mismanaging West Indies cricket and making a mockery of a sport in which this scattering of disunited, small states once ruled the world, a sport which once brought and can still bring so much pride and unity to West Indians everywhere. This most recent failure to act responsibly and intelligently was an insult to the players, the paying public, the sponsors and to the region. It was incompetence and stupidity of the highest order.

Tony Cozier, the doyen of West Indian cricket writers, has catalogued the WICB’s list of infamy and reported despairingly on the way it has betrayed the legacy of some of the greatest players the noble game has ever seen. This latest display of ineptitude has confirmed what we knew all along, that the WICB is incapable of learning from the lessons of the past. And Mr Cozier is clear that, at the very least, the WICB president, Julian Hunte, and the chief executive officer, Donald Peters, should resign, even if these two gentlemen do not see the need to do so.

Michael Holding, as uncompromising a commentator as he was a fast bowler, has attacked the culture of buck-passing and the lack of responsibility in West Indies cricket, noting that no one had been held accountable when the Test against England in 1998 in Jamaica had had to be abandoned because of an underprepared and dangerous pitch. His shame and anger at what transpired in Antigua last week were shared by almost all West Indian cricket lovers.

Haroon Lorgat, the chief executive of the International Cricket Council, laid the blame squarely at the feet of the WICB: “It’s clearly the West Indies Cricket Board’s [responsibility].” Sanctions, he suggested, might even be in order and the future of North Sound as a venue for international cricket is in jeopardy.

Mr Hunte has promised to look into the reasons behind the debacle at North Sound, to ensure that it does not happen again. He is missing the point. It happened before, it should never have happened last week and, based on current form, it will most likely happen again. When asked if he would consider his position as WICB president, he did not think that this was an issue. Such obduracy and arrogance cannot be tolerated any longer.

A week later, notwithstanding the heroic efforts of all who played a part in taking the Antigua Recreation Ground out of mothballs and making it match-ready in 48 hours, nothing has changed to alter the view that the ACA, the LICA and the WICB have brought indescribable shame on the heads of all West Indians.

It is our view that this was a cock-up too far for the WICB, and Mr Hunte and Mr Peters should resign. There is no room in the regional governance for overlarge egos, self-aggrandizement and supreme incompetence; cricket should be no exception.

Those involved in last week’s farce have brought the game to its knees in a region which had once thought, with the help of its cricketers, that it would never kneel before anyone again.

If they cannot do the honourable thing and resign, then Mr Hunte and Mr Peters, if not the whole Board, should be shunned by the public wherever they go, treated like the charlatans and jackanapes that they are.

Governments too can play a part, even if they do not have the legal right to intervene directly in the affairs of the WICB. They can, for example, withhold VIP courtesies at airports. And our leaders, as the representatives of the people, should make our displeasure their own. They should therefore call in the respective national representatives on the Board and make it known that this sorry state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue.

Popular outrage must force political pressure for change. Mr Hunte and Mr Peters must go and the WICB must take a long, hard and realistic look at itself and reinvent itself to regain the public’s trust. It could do worse than revisit the recommendations of the Patterson Report, which it had itself commissioned, but which it has conveniently chosen to ignore. Really, the people of the West Indies have had enough.

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