Mon | Aug 21, 2017

Cricket legends of failure

Published:Friday | April 22, 2016 | 4:00 AM
Sir Viv Richards
Wes Hall
Andy Roberts
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The war between CARICOM and the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) is clearly not going to be over anytime soon. Or should it be, more appropriately, the war between Grenadian Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell and Dave Cameron?

Dr Mitchell is waging a relentless campaign to take down the board, even when other prime ministers across the region seems to be more dormant. He has upped the ante and has now formally got the support of a group of past West Indies cricketers, who are now being called 'the legends', to put some more pressure on the Cameron-led board.

I find the whole thing extremely interesting. Said the legends: "We are very proud of our legacy. We cannot now in good conscience, stand idly by and watch everything that we have fought so hard to build and achieve disappear right before our very eyes because of the actions of inept board members and an incompetent board."

This group of legends must be careful that while they are aligning themselves with CARICOM's war against the board, they don't come across as being disingenuous.

Think about it. Wes Hall, one of the legends who has thrown his support behind Dr Mitchell, is himself a former board president. There is absolutely no difference whatsoever to the board's structure and method of operating now as opposed to when the goodly Wes Hall was in charge.

West Indies cricket on the field was performing not much better than they are now. How then can Wes Hall, in all seriousness, be part of a movement to disband the board now? Why wasn't he saying that while he was in charge? What makes the current members of the board any more 'inept' than when Wes Hall was in charge? What makes the board now more 'incompetent' than a few years back?

Viv Richards was a former coach-manager of the West Indies team. So, too, was Andy Roberts, as was Roger Harper. These three legends have all been employed by the board in the not-too-distant past and were, therefore, financially benefiting from the incompetent and inept board. These three have had the job of helping to shape our results on the field and none of them managed to make any meaningful difference. None of them could get us near where we once were.

Simply put, West Indies cricket on the field was still struggling badly while these legends had been given the job to fix it. It's interesting how they have all the answers now, and yet when they were placed in charge, our cricket was still sliding from one disaster to another.

 

COMPLETELY UNJUST

 

None of them were arguing then that the board should be dissolved while they were on the board's payroll. The legends must be careful that they are not sending a subtle message that once you keep us happy, you can stay, but if we are not benefiting in any personally, we will raise our voices against you."

The legends have had our respect because of their cricket ability. This witch-hunt by a "small group" of politicians for the Cameron-led WICB is completely without justification. We have won three world titles in four months and yet the voices calling for Dave's head are increasing. That makes absolutely no sense, and appears to be personal.

The legends must be careful that the respect they have earned through cricket doesn't disappear completely because they appear to be aligning themselves to a political cause that seems completely unjust.

Some of these same legendary West Indies cricketers had also fully thrown their support behind Allen Stanford, a man who is now in prison for operating a financial scheme that was illegal. Stanford and his riches were always a source of suspicion. Many were questioning the legitimacy of his operations long before the entire legal book was thrown at him. He was practically throwing millions away without rhyme and reason, and a lot of us wondered how does this man made money.

Many of us suspected his wealth couldn't be all above board. None of that stopped some of these same legends from being his personal sidekicks, smiling and nodding for the cameras, while their bank book was being fattened. He was also popularising Twenty20, a form of cricket that many legends are not exactly fond of.

Many of them criticise the players now for being too keen on T20 cricket at the expense of Tests. And yet, some legends were reportedly collecting US$10,000 a month for helping to promote the very form of cricket for which they are now calling the current players mercenaries for playing.

Careful, legends! You don't want it to appear that your support can be bought for the right people at the right price.

- Orville Higgins is a sportscaster and talk-show host at KLAS ESPN Sports FM. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.