Recent developments in India where the Supreme Court ordered the president and secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) Anurag Thakur and Ajay Shirke to be removed from their posts for failing to implement reforms of a Court-ordered committee has once again drawn attention to the situation with the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB).
The BCCI was, on the ruling of the Supreme Court, supposed to implement reforms based on the recommendations of the Lodha Committee which was set up to review the administration of the sport in the cricket-mad country.
However, the BCCI balked at implementing the reforms which led to the Supreme Court action.
The situation in India is somewhat different to the situation in Guyana except for one instance – the failure of both national cricket boards to obey orders of the Court.
However, while the Supreme Court in India has flexed its legal muscle showing clearly that it will not tolerate any insouciance, in Guyana the Court seems reluctant to enforce its own rulings.
The Guyana Cricket Administration Act (GCAA) was passed in parliament on May 15, 2014 establishing the GCB as not only a legal, corporate body but as the supreme organization for the administration of the sport.
Enshrined in the act were a number of stipulations with respect to the staging of elections of the GCB following allegations of rigged or more specifically illegal elections in the past.
There was also the situation where a cricket board official was doused with a corrosive substance, an act which some felt was related to the cricket imbroglio.
Based on the GCAA, the first elections of the GCB by law should be called by the Minister of Sport in consultation with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB).
This is what the GCAA states..“The first elections, to be held in accordance with section 17 on the date appointed in writing by the Minister acting in consultation with the West Indies Cricket Board.”
This clearly spells out the fact that it is the Minister of Sport who has the responsibility based on the GCAA, which is now law, of calling the first elections of the GCB and not the GCB.
The last AGM and election of office bearers of the GCB was held in 2013.
There were no elections in 2015 when it was constitutionally due.
However, recently, the GCB sent out notices of the upcoming AGM and election of office bearers for 2017.
According to those notices, the AGM of the GCB is to be held January 29.
If one is to be guided by the GCAA, the GCB elections cannot be held before the elections of the county boards, Essequibo, Berbice and Demerara.
The GCAA states quite clearly that it is the Ombudsman, Dr. Winston Mc Gowan, who was appointed by then Minister of Sport, Dr. Frank Anthony, who must first verify the clubs and delegates of the three county boards that make up the GCB before any county board or GCB elections can be held.
To date there has been no elections of the three county boards which means that the executives of all three county boards are unlawful not to mention that there are practically court matters involving these area boards that are still to be heard.
The BCB elections are constitutionally due in December, the ECB elections are due the second week in January and the DCB elections are usually held just before the GCB elections.
What this means is that the lives of the three county boards have all expired and so, those persons who are holding themselves out to be executive members of the three boards are illegal, although there is usually a grace period which varies in length.
In the case of the (DCB) there has been no legally constituted board since January 2011 and there is also at the moment an injunction preventing persons from holding themselves out to executives of the DCB.
However, the DCB still seems to be functioning in contravention of the Court-ordered injunction.
In 2011 and 2013, the only board that attended the GCB elections and voted was the Essequibo Cricket Board, according to reports.
The DCB was locked in a court battle ever since Bissoondyal Singh, the most recent legitimate DCB president and Ananad Sanasie, then the legitimate DCB secretary, advertised two different dates for the staging of the DCB elections. Subsequently, two DCB factions emerged, which of course, led to the court action to see which faction was the legitimate body.
To date that matter is still to be decided.
The BCB attended the 2011 GCB AGM but details differ as to whether they participated in the voting process. Subsequently, the BCB challenged the outcome in Court.
The challenge, by Angela Haniff et al, led to the ruling by former Chief Justice Ian Chang, that the GCB was not a legal body and could not sue or be sued.
He then ordered that the GCB become a legal entity.
Chang in his ruling, ordered that the Minister of Sport bring legislative action and put an Interim Management Committee (IMC) in place.
This led to the formation of an IMC headed by former West Indies captain Clive Lloyd who did extensive work which resulted in the GCCA.
However, the GCB continued to function despite the installation of the IMC and there was one embarrassing scenario where both the GCB and the IMC selected a national cricket team. Matters were not helped by the GCB parent body, the WICB, which has responsibility for cricket in the region and which is an affiliate of the world governing body, the International Cricket Council, which rejected the IMC team and accepted the team selected by the GCB.
The recent action by the BCCI gives lie to the belief that the ICC frowns on government interference in the sport.
The 2013 GCB elections were also shrouded in controversy over whether there was a quorum since it was reported that only the ECB (nine members) was present as there was an injunction in place preventing persons from holding themselves out to be executives of the DCB and only one member of the BCB, David Black, attended the meeting in defiance of the BCB’s decision not to attend the meeting nor to vote.
Recently there seems to be an attempt to stage elections of the ECB. According to a report in another section of the media, Prince Holder, president of the North Essequibo Cricket Committee (NECC), says elections of the ECB are due this year and are to be held tomorrow at the ECB Hostel while an official of the BCB, when contacted, said they were seeking legal advice with respect to the GCB elections.
Since the passage of the GCAA, there was the appointment of the cricket Ombudsman, who was tasked with the responsibility of verifying the clubs that come under the aegis of the various county boards that comprise the GCB.
The appointment of the Ombudsman was challenged by the GCB on the grounds that the Minister of Sport Dr. Frank Anthony did not contact the WICB. That matter was subsequently thrown out by Chang after Dr. Anthony, in court arguments, stated that he contacted the WICB on three occasions and they never responded.
Chang, in his ruling, said that he felt that three times was enough and subsequently ruled that the Ombudsman was properly appointed.
Since then there has been no report of any activity by the Ombudsman.
Finally there was an injunction filed by Sanasie on April 29, 2015, where the plaintiffs are the GCB, the GCB represented by Sanasie, the DCB, the DCB represented by its secretary Lalta Digamber, the ECB, the ECB represented by its president Fizul Bacchus, the East Bank Cricket Association (EBCA), the EBCA represented by its vice-president Rohan Sarjoo, the Eccles Cricket Club (ECC), the ECC represented by its vice-president Johnny Azeez and Guyana Cricket Inc., suspending all elections of office bearers of bodies under the Guyana Cricket Administration Act 2014 until the hearing and determination of the substantive action. That matter is still to be heard.
This, then is the state of affairs as it relates to the administration of Guyana’s cricket which has been caught up in a web of Court injunctions, claims of illegal elections, claims of phantom cricket boards operating and bureaucratic inactivity.
One is not sure when the injunctions will be heard or how long the entire process will take. It could be years before the entire system is sorted out. One is also not sure what the position with the Ombudsman and the GCAA and whether any work is being done by the Ombudsman and whether the GCAA has been shelved.
Cricket, however, continues to be played and there were some success last year for the representative national teams which is a plus for the game and those who aspire to reach the highest level of the sport.
However, the administration of the sport leaves a lot to be desired and one can only hope ab hinc, that the sordid mess will soon be sorted out, the slothfulness of the Court and the silence and inactivity of the present government notwithstanding.