As Jason Holder tried to explain away the latest humiliation inflicted on West Indies this week at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport’s VIP lounge, the elephant in room no one seemed to notice was Whycliff “Dave” Cameron’s ego.
The players’ unprofessional approach to the game is continuing to mire the team in mediocrity but the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) President’s overblown ego is beginning to make things worse.
Darren Bravo, the team’s best batsman over the last three years, has been missing from action for close to five months and counting because he hurt Cameron’s feelings after the player’s unprecedented tweet went viral last year.
Bravo’s subsequent banishment is now the latest act of retribution against any stakeholder who steps on Cameron’s toes.
Former captain Darren Sammy has been out in the cold after lambasting the WICB on live television on receiving the T20 World Cup trophy last year, as is Suleiman Benn who refused to shake the president’s hand at another presentation function, after Barbados won the Region 50 overs competition a month ago.
Those actions surround the abrupt sacking of Coach Phil Simmons, who carried the team to the 2016 T20 title, after he spoke out about outside interference in team selection.
Amidst mounting pressure, Cameron has since explained that the onus is on Bravo to resume his West Indies career.
At a town hall meeting in the player’s homeland, the Trinidad Express quoted the President as stating…”the ball is in Bravo’s court as to when he wants to return playing for West Indies.”
According to the newspaper report, Cameron declined to elaborate on the pronouncement, which could only lead to one conclusion.
It is highly likely Bravo is demanding the President meet him halfway in requesting Cameron offer him an apology to match the one the WICB is requesting for the player’s twitter outburst, labeling the President a “big idiot” , after the latter inaccurately explained Bravo’s contract demotion, in a media interview.
Considered a star attraction in the team, Bravo has said he never owned a top tier ‘A’ contract which rewards the team’s highest paid players, after Cameron informed the media he did and was demoted for declining performances leading up to the latest allocation last year.
The normally laid-back Bravo was highly incensed, moreso by the cut in salary, in a double whammy situation for him following an across the board reduction for top players, in a highly contentious agreement, the Board crafted with the players association.
Bravo has a right to be peeved as his status as the team’s top batsman has been compromised with the salary cut, which cannot be justified, due to a mere blip in form which all cricketers experience in their careers.
When it is taken into account that Bravo never butted heads with the WICB on playing in the lucrative T20 circuit around the world, like others have, you can understand why selection panel chairman Courtney Browne referred to the Bravo issue as a ‘dispute’, as the player continues to hold his ground.
In his two terms as President Cameron’s apoplectic leadership of the WICB is continuing unabated.
Now he seems determined to ruin the West Indies career of a talented player unless Bravo kisses his toes.
When he retweeted a derogatory fan remark of outspoken star batsman Chris Gayle, during the 2015 World Cup, Cameron was unrepentant.
He tweeted a brief response of regret without even mentioning the player’s name, following an egregious act committed by a leader against the player he is bound to represent.
Now, Bravo’s absence has left a big void in a listless West Indies batting that has mainly contributed to their hammering by England followed by the T20 series loss to Pakistan in the current series.
In normal circumstances, a team is supposed to win at home, but the Windies is not even competitive in familiar conditions over the last two months.
When you cannot score 250 runs in 50 overs and cannot get past 130 in T20’s, you will lose regardless of how potent a bowling attack you have.
It doesn’t matter to Cameron though, as his main priority is obviously to remain in power, by spinning deals with territorial Board representative voters, as was the case last week when no one opposed him for the WICB’s top position.
Also, Cameron and his cronies couldn’t care less that fans despair at the inability of West Indies to regain or even come close to their glory days of world dominance in the 1970’s and 80s’, is becoming more of a pipe dream , close to 22 years after being dethroned from atop the Test rankings
Winning series and world titles are secondary goals, given the continued ostracizing of players who dare cross Cameron’s path.
How can anyone explain Simmons’ ouster after West Indies claimed T20 title under his charge or Sammy’s non-selection to the said team, despite solid performances in the last CPL competition?
And the politics resorted to in Cameron’s quest for power is nauseating. He took the opportunity last year to boast that West Indies was unmatched in having three World titles after the triumphs of the Under-19 and Women’s teams, following the men’s T20 exploit last year, a cheap proclamation in the circumstances.
No president of integrity boasts of winning the three least significant prizes in world cricket.
Winning the men’s number one Test ranking and 50 -overs World Cup are the accomplishments that matter most and the Regional side is nowhere close to the top in those categories.
Also, it was no surprise that the former Stanford ground, now renamed Coolidge in Antigua is now in WICB ownership, given that the country’s Prime Minister Gaston Brown is the lone Regional leader supportive of Cameron’s presidency. It resulted in the Regional 50 overs finals, staged there, played out on an unattractive, parched outfield with small boundaries, amidst zero atmosphere as little more than WICB board officials were in attendance, before the TV cameras.
Antigua was also the host for the recent England series where the touring side was presented with a home away from home support situation, as the UK tourists outnumbered local attendance 10-1, following which the visiting team romped to the now accustomed whitewash , in the three-match rubber.
Such is the dire state of West Indies cricket as Cameron continues to enjoy having his ego stoked by Gaston Brown and his cronies on the Board while fans’ are being crushed with every passing team humiliation. Expect the script to continue at Providence as Pakistan hunt a back to back blanking of the Regional side following their triumph in all three formats in the UAE last year.