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Editorial: Cameron, cricket and history

Published:Tuesday | March 10, 2015 | 3:00 AM

Our first bit of advice to Dave Cameron is that the past can't merely be confined to the past. Or, to reprise, and put a spin on C.L.R. James' observation about cricket, Mr Cameron will appreciate precious little about cricket if he fails to understand history, including that of the recent past, which, we believe, is part of what ails West Indian cricket.

However, that is not Dave Cameron's only challenge as he begins his second two-year term as president of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), having fought off the immediate challenge of Joel Garner's attempt to unseat him. But what appears, if the anecdotal evidence is to be believed, is widespread regional disaffection with his leadership.

As we have said before, this newspaper neither supports nor harbours any overdoing sentiment, good or bad, towards Mr Cameron, although his recent retweeting, in the middle of a West Indies match at the Cricket World Cup, of a message critical of Chris Gayle, raised for us questions, yet unresolved, about his maturity and judgement. This behaviour by Mr Cameron, 44, may well be interpreted as a not-particularly subtle effort at sticking it to a critic.

But that notwithstanding, Dave Cameron has been unfairly blamed for the players' abandonment of last October's tour of India, as well as the long-substandard performance of the regional team in international matches. That strike, which is what the players' action amounted to, was because they disagreed with the terms of a contract with their trade union, the West Indies Players' Association (WIPA), negotiated with the WICB.

Under that agreement, some of the sponsorship money, which, in the past, mostly flowed to a handful of elite international players, was used to finance territorial teams, including living wage contracts to 90 second-tier players, who, before, were overlooked in the game's economic arrangements. We reserve judgement on the execution of this project, but there is no gainsaying that it is a worthy effort at professionalising the sport in the Caribbean and strengthening the foundation from which future West Indian stars can emerge.

 

Lowered incomes

 

Those who criticise its effect of supposedly lowering the incomes of the elite players fail to appreciate that the resources available to develop the game in the Caribbean are finite and that their allocation to a few is palpably unfair. These facts have been lost in the knee-jerk, anti-Establishment posture of many people who blame Mr Cameron for everything, from how the negotiations with WIPA was conducted to whether he should have, Star Trek-fashion, 'beamed' himself to India to solve the problem. That the Indian authorities demand compensation from the West Indies is also a Cameron issue.

There is, too, the gloating, my-time-was-better posturing of others and the belief by another set that the cure-all for every problem is to overburden it with bureaucracy.

The fact is, as the St Lucian prime minister, Kenny Anthony, pointed out, the crisis of West Indies cricket is not only in the governance of the WICB, but of West Indian society. Its solution rests with understanding the evolution of that crisis, the context of the periods of ascendancy, and how governance structures, while responding to current times, can take advantage of history.

In that regard, Mr Cameron must see his re-election as a genuine opportunity for transparency and broad engagement, even when it runs against the grain. Mr Cameron must learn from history.