PM Gonsalves takes aim at CWI right to manage

ST GEORGE’S, Grenada, CMC – St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves has again questioned the authority of Cricket West Indies to run the regional game, especially since the organisation has claimed to be a private entity.

Gonsalves, also a trained lawyer and the current chairman of CARICOM’s sub-committee on cricket, said cricket constituted a “public good” and therefore called on CWI to explain where it derived the right to manage West Indies cricket “to the exclusion of everybody else.”

St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves.

“I think there’s a legal case, not for the West Indies Cricket Board to be dissolved because it’s a company and as a matter of law you’re not going to dissolve the company – you’re not a shareholder of the company,” Gonsalves said during the ongoing CARICOM Heads of government summit here.

“But the question is: cricket is a public good. Can a private entity run the public good and that question has been determined in another jurisdiction in India, so that’s a separate question. I’m not interested in the dissolution of the West Indies Cricket Board.”

He added: “All I am saying [is] how have you gotten the right as a private entity to run and manage a public good to the exclusion of everybody else. No, that can’t be right so that’s the fundamental question which I raise.”

Regional Heads last year threw their support behind a CARICOM-commissioned Governance Review report which in part called for the “immediate dissolution” of the then WICB – recently renamed Cricket West Indies.

CWI has since resisted the recommendations of the report, in particular the call for dissolution, labelling it an “unnecessary and intrusive demand.”

Last year, both Gonsalves and Grenada Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell questioned CWI’s authority as a private entity to run regional cricket, referencing the 2015 ruling of the Indian Supreme Court on the Indian Cricket Board (BCCI).

Then, the Justices said the functions of the BCCI were “clearly public functions” and contended that “any organization or entity that has such pervasive control over the game and its affairs and such powers as can make dreams end up in smoke or come true cannot be said to be undertaking any private activity.”

CWI has come under fire in recent years for its handling of West Indies cricket with the once powerful Test team now eighth in the rankings just ahead of minnows Bangladesh and the one-day team ninth in the world and unlikely to automatically qualify for the 2019 World Cup.

The board found itself facing a US$42 million claim of damages from the BCCI three years ago after it failed to settle a pay dispute which resulted in the Windies abandoning an ongoing tour of India and the scheduled Test series to follow.

At the opening of this week’s summit here, Mitchell called on CARICOM leaders to unite in order to save the sport arguing that the current CWI governance model “almost renders the regional game irrelevant.”

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