President Donald Ramotar yesterday described the West Indies Cricket Board’s (WICB) removal of the scheduled third cricket test match between the West Indies and New Zealand from the Providence National Stadium, as a “slap and an attack against the whole integration movement.”
The WICB has said that it took that action because of the passage of the Cricket Administration Bill which seeks to regularise cricket administration in Guyana.
Speaking at a news conference at State House yesterday, Ramotar told media operatives that the “arrogance of the WICB is unbelievable.”
He said, “Imagine they [WICB] don’t invest anything in cricket.” He added that it was the government that spends money on the stadium and moved to “get a Marriott Hotel going here and other hotel accommodations so we can host these huge events. We do all the investments.”
On May 31, the WICB officially pulled the third Test match between New Zealand and West Indies which was scheduled to be held from June 26-30 in Guyana. In a statement, it had said that its decision was because it had failed to arrive at a consensus on the issue of the bill with the government.
“The WICB has serious reservations that the Cricket Administration Bill which was passed in the Guyana National Assembly thrusts the administration of cricket in Guyana from an independent body to the Government of Guyana,” the WICB stated in its statement.
According to the WICB it had subsequently sought an undertaking from President Ramotar that the Bill not be signed into law until the issues are resolved.
“The Board gave its commitment that once His Excellency President Ramotar provided such an undertaking all arrangements in Guyana will be kept in place.” WICB said.
However, the board said that since it had not received any undertaking it had no choice but to relocate the match.
The bill was passed last month after being tabled in the National Assembly since 2012. Sport Minister Dr Frank Anthony in whose name the bill was taken to the house had told the National Assembly that the legislation brought back before them was as a result of extensive consultation with professionals, the various clubs, and other stakeholders.
However, long before the bill was passed, WICB had indicated its non-support alluding to the looming dissolution of the Guyana Cricket Board as one of its reasons.
Additionally, the WICB had also said that the introduction of the bill would allow government to interfere with the game.
However, Ramotar said the only aim of his administration was to have some accountability to the sport. “The only objective, the only aim that we put in Parliament was to put some accountability to cricket,” he stressed.
The President added, “there were a lot of wild accusations — I am not pronouncing on if it is true or not true — about corruption, about rigging of the elections of the Guyana Cricket Board and all sorts of issue of that nature. It is totally untrue what is being peddled that government wants to interfere with cricket,” he said.
He argued that “we have enough problems on our hands than to want to get involved in the cricket politics. We’ve got bigger politics to deal with.”
Ramotar explained that the only part government would have had was in appointing an ombudsman. “…And this came out not in the original bill but it came out as a process of discussion and in the committee…,” he said.
“Government did that with the WICB to establish that government’s role would have been finished. I don’t know how, in what way this bill would have given government control of the cricket as some of them are trying to make out,” Ramotar stated.
The President also opined that the recent actions by the WICB was in order to “defend some vested interest” since there was no justifiable reason to say that government was trying to control cricket in Guyana. “There must be some type of vested interest that is being defended here,” he said.
He added, “Here we have this group moving cricket away and in this way also they are threatening the whole regional integration [movement]….”
The WICB had previously withdrawn international cricket from Guyana for more than a year after the government had set up an interim body to run the game.