WICB lacks the skills to carry out its mandate

Dear Editor,

 

Essentially, the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB’s) main role is to provide youth and senior cricket teams (male and female) for ICC Tournaments. These teams must consist of players who are carefully selected and nurtured and who have developed into cohesive units that can successfully compete.

The fact that the West Indies Cricket Team comprises players from six territorial boards coming together presents a major challenge unlike any other current cricketing body, and therefore requires special skills to effectively achieve the desired objective.

Unfortunately it is evident that the current WICB lacks the skills required to carry out its mandate. The board has displayed a remarkable inability to take our cricket forward. It is time for the WICB Directors to accept their limitations, swallow their pride and come down from their lofty pedestals to the grassroots. The grassroots is where the resurrection of our cricket must begin both at the administrative and playing levels.

To begin with there must be a thorough investigation of the administration and cricket development programmes within each territorial board to ascertain the quality and quantity of work being done, before any programme could be designed and proposals initiated at the WICB level.

In its attempt to address the need for restoring West Indies cricket to its former glory days the WICB enlisted the services of Mr Richard Pybus as Director of cricket; unfortunately his job description and salary have not been made public, but in my view must be attractive enough to     appeal to this consummate             professional. While I have nothing against Mr Pybus I am concerned that whatever advertisement was made for the position, not a single West Indian was found to be suitable. Not Clive Lloyd, Deryck Murray, Roger Harper, Darren Ganga, Vivian Richards, Andy Roberts, Brian Lara or any of the multitude of capable illustrious West Indians. It is difficult to understand any foreigner coming into the WI to solve our cricket problems when everyone in the WI (except the WICB) knows what these problems are and their solutions. The appointment of Mr Pybus is an insult to the WI populace and the many competent personalities who have played or participated administratively in the development of our cricket in the past. It insults the recommendations contained in the Patterson Report, the Wilkins Report and the numerous opinions/recommendations of our cricketing icons such as Clive Lloyd, Deryck Murray, Tony Cozier, Colin Croft, Sir Andy Roberts and other reputable journalists/commentators/players. It is very strange that the WICB expects the young players to emulate our great players when the board itself deliberately ostracizes them.

So in reviewing Mr Pybus’ report it is observed that he has been employed since November 2013 and has already produced a report without any known visit to Guyana or any of the other five territories that make up the WICB. It leaves one to wonder on the source and accuracy of his information.

It is therefore not surprising that his report falls terribly short of expectations, with proposals that are certainly not new, while ignoring the following important areas.

1. The role proper governance has to play in the development process, which requires comprehensive analyses of the eighteen-member Board of Directors of WICB, its Secretariat and operations unit, along with the respective sub-committees and the efficiency of the territorial boards’ stewardship. Proper governance has been the single most important failure of the WICB although the board had the benefit of the Patterson and Wilkin Reports, along with recommendations from the likes of Clive Lloyd and other notable WI great professionals – all of these recommendations were largely ignored by a group that is more concerned with preserving their status rather than resolving our cricket problems. They have betrayed our national game.

2. The WICB doles out funds to territorial boards for the development of cricket without receiving any proper development plan whatsoever. In addition there is no monitoring mechanism which ensures that the funds disbursed are properly utilized within a properly integrated coaching or management training programme.

3. Guyana’s cricket has been in turmoil for over four years as a consequence of administrative lawlessness, lack of accountability and no cricket development plan in place as a consequence of which there is no Guyanese in the WI Team, and an entire Under 15 Team from the area administered by a favoured West Indian director has been bowled out in a Demerara Cricket Board fixture for 13 runs (all extras); not a single run was scored by any of the youngsters. This must be interpreted in terms of where our cricket future is heading, especially when Guyana has been a major contributor to WI Cricket Team in the past. The WICB as far as I am aware has never attempted to even act as a mediator to resolve the issues facing Guyana cricket, while our current Guyana representatives at the WICB – Anand Sanasie, Raj Singh, Drubahadur, Anand Kalladeen and Clifford Reis – seem either incapable or unconcerned about Guyana’s cricket.

Below are examples of similar cricket woes in other territories:-

1. Leeward Islands that produced such illustrious players as Sir Vivian Richards, Sir Curtly Ambrose, Sir Andy Roberts, Sir Richie Richardson, the Benjamins, Ridley Jacobs, Eldine Baptiste, etc, has been struggling to produce players for any WI Team. They have not been participating in any WICB Ladies’ Tournaments (in defiance of ICC rules) without any evidence of either assistance or sanctions from the WICB.

2. Windward Cricket is also struggling with the women continuing to participate in the WICB Regional Ladies Tournament as individual countries, ie Grenada, St Lucia, etc, instead of a Windwards Ladies Team. This effectively dilutes the quality of our regional tournament. Indeed Barbados, Guyana, Trinidad and Jamaica are all struggling to upgrade their female cricket teams, not because of a lack of talent, but simply because there is no properly integrated development plan in place for the ladies to work within.

3. Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad have also been experiencing problems with their male and female cricket, in both the administrative and technical areas.

4. The Academy/HPC – whatever it is called – has been an abject failure since it is badly structured, with no satellite feeder academy at the territorial board level, no known criteria for selecting attendees, generally unknown facilitators and no arrangement for attendees when they return home after their stint is concluded to put into practice what they learned. It has been largely ineffective and failed, in my view, to provide within its structure:

1. A process for emerging players and

2. Rehabilitative opportunity for out-of-form senior or junior WI players.

The following are among the many youngsters whose cricket careers suffered from the inadequacy of a facility that was intended to enhance their development – Brandon Bess, Ronsford Beaton, Rajendra Chandrika, Devendra Bishoo, Kraigg Brawithwaite, Kirk Edwards, Kemar Roach, Adrian Barath, Johnson Charles, Darren Bravo, Shane Shillingford and Lendl Simmonds.

8. The CPL which has tremendously revived spectator attendance at cricket matches throughout the region has indeed been a welcome breath of fresh air, although in my opinion the WICB directorate lost out on a great opportunity to rake in development funds instead of a mere annual rental. Their meek acquiescence to the disbandment of our regional T20 does nothing to help the preparation of our aspiring youngsters for CPL, particularly since from all appearances the foreign players will dominate, and soon we may see, for example, a Guyana Team with no Guyanese. The regional T20 tournament should be reinstated to offer the opportunity for our youngsters to compete and develop their talent thereby providing a feeder of players for the CPL and onwards.

Indeed Mr Pybus’ reference to extended regional tournaments, professional leagues, etc, are nothing new, and whilst some recommendations seem to be coming from other countries practices many in my opinion will not be applicable in the West Indies at this time.

Mr Pybus’ report seems to address the symptoms not the cause, so if his TOR does not include an analysis of the cause of the WI ongoing cricket debacle then his tenure would be useless and his efforts will go the way of the many previous reports. The favoured recommendation will be accepted and others abandoned, whilst WI cricket finds renewed depths of degradation.

He must go to the root cause, and that is, the WI Cricket Board, which has reneged on its responsibility to supervise is constituents properly. Territorial boards must be managed by competent, capable officials of unblemished character, who are capable of executing the plans, programmes and objectives of the WICB with a vision that comes from a love, knowledge, fair-play and commitment to cricket. Criteria for directors to the WICB must include a proven track record of playing or properly administering cricket at least within their area, or professional /technical competence in a particular relevant field.

If this situation is not immediately addressed; our cricket will never improve:

1. Our women cricketers will soon falter from the limited success they have been enjoying, which in my opinion could have been immeasurably improved if they were better prepared at the territory board level.

a. The WICB must ensure that they play a longer regional tournament of quality with both the Leeward and Windward Islands providing a Ladies Team for the regional tournament.

b. The WICB must ensure that territorial members organize more female cricket tournaments within their cricket development programmes, with an adequate remuneration package in place.

c. There must be the reintroduction of the junior female ladies cricket tournament at the domestic (territorial levels) and the regional (WICB) level. This was abandoned approximately seven years ago.

d. The current and future WI female teams must benefit from specialized technical attention since it is obvious, that, notwithstanding their enthusiasm and desire to input all their efforts, there is too much reliance on Stepheney Taylor and Deandra Dottin to win with their batting. Other capable players must be trained in the ability to score from technically correct applications, whilst the bowling, fielding and general cricketing knowledge must be improved.

In concluding I wish to reiterate that for WI cricket to resurge to the top we need to begin with the product ‘the cricket’ from the grassroots. It is evident that the WICB and Mr Pybus feel that the beginning and the end of WI cricket rest only with the performance of the WI Senior Team and seem totally unconcerned about what happens in the respective territories leading up to WI selection.

In this regard:

1. The Territorial Boards that wean the product (the cricketers) must be investigated to ascertain that they are capable of working in sync with international best practices and the plan/ objectives of the WICB, especially with regard to the administrative, financial and technical development aspects.

2. The WICB must be investigated to ascertain the quality and integrity of its directors with regard to their suitability and capability to take our cricket forward, for whilst they may be good in other work areas it must be substantiated that they are good enough for the promotion, administration and development of cricket.

It is the only way forward especially in light of the newfound anticipated wealth to be garnered from the controversial new ICC proposals, and the fact that the WICB’s careless incompetence in managing its members’ efficiency is largely responsible for the decadence in WI cricket today. I predict that the ICC’s new proposals will influence strong consideration for the establishment of a new competing international cricket order, amongst both disgruntled and prospective members.

So, let’s stop blaming the cricketers who are terribly underprepared and the selectors who could only select from the players produced, and place the blame where it belongs – at the feet of the WICB.

The fact is that not a single territory within the WICB has been operating at its optimum given the natural talent that abounds within and the funds which we know are available. It follows therefore that if the territories which make up the WICB are inefficient then the WICB must be inefficient, and therein lies the problem, and if Mr Pybus intends to solve it he must address the cause and not the symptoms.

Mr Pybus must be thorough, candid and realistic in his analyses/recommendations if his stint is to be successful; he must interface with all stakeholders in each territorial board’s jurisdiction to understand the real issues, since paying homage to the WICB cannot help WI cricket return to the glory days.

Yours faithfully,
Claude Raphael
Former GCB Executive Member
Former WICB Director

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