Ever since Dave Cameron entered the scene as the Cricket West Indies (CWI) President in 2013, his tenure as President has been plagued with controversies after controversies. Be that as it may, he has weathered the storm fairly well to still be there but his PR machinery has been unable to erase the pitfalls from his problems. A careful analysis of his tenure is appropriate at this time and will be done under some key headings:
Leadership- Cameron burst onto the scene at the pretty tender age of 41 when compared to the other past Presidents, beating Julian Hunte in 2013. Hunte was becoming very unpopular with some of the dubious decisions that he made with his appointment of CEO and Captain coming out of St Lucia coupled with the acrimonious relationships between the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) and the players caused by the faulty players’ contracts that his team presided over. To some extent Cameron has benefitted from those problems with the ouster of Dinanath Ramnarine from WIPA and being replaced by the more prudent Wavell Hinds. Tons of CWI money was being squandered away on legal fees and lost lawsuit awards. These funds are now being channeled directly to WIPA for the benefit of the players. Some may view this reallocation as a payoff or quid pro quo but the war between the Board and the players union now seems to be effectively dead and Cameron has been credited with this improved relationship. Those who were not happy with WIPA have since left the organization. Cameron was ‘challenged’ twice for the Presidency. Once when Clive Lloyd was nominated by the Guyana board but was unable to secure a seconder and secondly when Joel Garner and Baldath Mohabir challenged him in 2015. After defeating these challengers, he swiftly sidelined these individuals from the mainstream cricket scene by appointing them to various positions subservient to him. Mohabir was evicted from his post as Chairman of the Marketing Committee and replaced by Cameron himself. He subsequently resigned from the Board. The leadership displayed during the ill-fated India tour would forever blot the Presidency of Cameron. He did manage to avoid a US$42m invoice which could never repair the damage done to his leadership irrespective of how he spins it.
Cricket Development-Cameron can also be credited with the introduction of the Professional Cricket League (PCL) which by all standards has been moderately successful. For one, it has generated far more first class cricket being played annually but we have not yet witnessed a marked improvement in the standard of play. The concept is good but needs an overhaul. Not all teams have fully embraced the franchise system after 5 years in existence. Something is sadly lacking with the franchise system. The payment and the supposed professionalizing of the players has been good but the Boards are not getting the best out of the players for one reason or the other. Cameron has run into a stone wall here. After 5 years, we still do not have a ton of players banging at the selectors’ doors warranting a place on the senior team. Something is desperately wrong with our cricket and player development programmes. WI has been winning a few matches here and there which does not inspire confidence in our abilities going forward on a long term basis. We cannot continue to bury our head in the sand because of our undying love for West Indies cricket. Cameron does not seem to have the answer for this problem.
Selection issues- Guyana has won the four-day tournament for 5 straight years and yet cannot get more than a single player permanently into the test team. Granted there has been quite a few dubious selectorial decisions that have cast serious aspersions on the relationship and control of Cameron over Courtney Browne. The Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) has had cause to be aggrieved by these actions which has left a bad taste in our collective mouths with the autocratic methods of Cameron. He probably feels that he has a firm hold on the GCB votes through his unholy alliance with another autocrat, Anand Sanasie, in terms of support for his 2019 candidacy and was using the selection of players as his pawn to secure votes from other countries, hence the proliferation of Bajans in the team and the questionable selection of John Campbell recently. This was clearly a play for the Jamaican votes.
Players’ relationships- Even though the Board and WIPA have improved their relationship, the players themselves do not trust the Board and Cameron has done very little to heal that situation. Cameron has continued to display an arm’s length relationship with the players. He thinks that he is the master that sits above them all. The Darren Bravo incident is a classic example of his aloofness. Cameron made an incorrect statement about the contract awarded to Bravo and was instantly greeted with an equally ‘idiotic’ knee jerk response from Bravo. Cameron displayed very poor maturity in dealing with this issue. They were both wrong but Bravo’s response resulted from the other’s inaccurate statement. It called for sober and mature leadership which Cameron clearly showed that he lacked resulting in Bravo being ostracized for more than 2 years from WI cricket. Who knows the quantifiable loss to WI cricket this impasse caused which was not healed due to the bruised ego of the President. It has been told that Cameron has had to be restrained from the use of Twitter so as to avoid more of such mashups and tantrums. Sounds a little like Donald Trump.
Relationship with Caricom and fans- This has been the most hostile period for all. Leaders from several countries with the exception of Antigua have called for major governance review. Cameron has responded to them that most of the recommendations were implemented but those which were implemented represented minor adjustments to governance. The WI fans have been most loyal to our cricketers and definitely need genuine leaders with a clear vision for WI cricket. Any poll in the Caribbean or worldwide would definitely show dire consequences for Cameron. His abrasive style is not very comforting.
Presidential term limits- Cameron had promised to institute this provision of a cap on Presidential term limits into the CWI constitution but has since conveniently forgotten about same. Note that his challenger is now proposing a 6-year term limit which I think is just good enough for any decent administrator to make their mark on West Indies cricket and move on. Very few prior Presidents have served for more than three consecutive terms. Instead Cameron is promoting the implementation of an Executive Presidency to cement his control and power over West Indies cricket. This smacks totally of the antics of a proven dictator and should not be tolerated.
In summation, it can be easily deciphered that President Cameron has had a full 6 years to execute his mandate and has scored some moderate successes during this period but has presided over a very tumultuous period of cricket in the West Indies. On a scale of 1 to 10, any incumbent seeking re-election should be hovering in the range between 7 and 8. President Cameron would be hard pressed to be awarded a 5 at best during his 6 years tenure. A high 4 would be most appropriate.
It is not very easy to deliberate on the rationale used by the six area boards in reaching their decisions on which candidate ticket to support. I am sure deals and promises will be made by the President who possess the distinct advantage of incumbency. One surely hopes that, in the end, West Indies cricket wins!
Ardent WI cricket fan.