Tony Becca: Dave Cameron’s motivation
One day before the semi-final of the World Twenty20 in India recently, before the West Indies dazzled the world by clipping India and England with three deliveries and two deliveries to spare, respectively, to win the championship in style, West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) president Dave Cameron opened up and explained his philosophy, the reason why he is, or was, probably public enemy number one in the West Indies.
Sitting in a Mumbai hotel, he said, apparently quite meekly: "I just want us to get better. I am tired of losing."
And then, as arrogantly as ever, he said: "My role is to run the business and your role is to play cricket."
The "your" he was referring to was the players - and he was correct.
Cameron, not knowing that his team would have won the match the following day, or the final showdown a few days later, but hoping against hope that they would, was engaged in a long interview at the time and he tried to explain his unpopularity around the West Indies and the reason why he behaves the way he does, especially when it comes to his treatment of the West Indies players.
"We have had strikes or potential strikes for the last 14 years. And we have gone and met the players and given in. And we are ranked eight or nine. I am not sure going and meeting them would have solved it.
"As a matter fact, for the first time my board said to me, 'President, you are not authorised to do anything to this agreement because you paid the guys money for the last year and a half when you had the opportunity to change the agreement. You have demonstrated good faith. You have worked with WIPA (West Indies Players' Association) to get the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) done. For the last how many years, every time we are trying to move the process forward so that we can create a professional set-up, we get held to ransom. We are just tired as an organisation'.
"Wes Hall had strikes against him. Sir Julian Hunte had a couple of issues. It started under Pat Rousseau. It happened to Teddy Griffith.
"Everybody went and gave them what they wanted. Did our system get any better? It got worse. We moved from number one in the world in 1995 to eight and nine in Tests and ODIs."
I am not a fan of Cameron for many reasons, including his treatment of the players, his treatment of Caribbean journalists especially one like Tony Cozier, his attitude overall, his use of the little money in West Indies cricket and, last but not least, the part he played in the takeover of the International Cricket Council (ICC) by India, England and Australia.
However, I commend him for three things. For looking towards hiring West Indians such as coach Phil Simmons to assist in the development of West Indies cricket, for professionalising regional cricket, and for getting West Indies first-class cricket to be played on a return basis.
A week or so ago, however, when I read his interview in Mumbai and read what he had to say about the reasons for his attitude towards the players, I was touched. I was moved. Cameron, whatever we thought of him, was, indeed, a West Indian.
He wanted the West Indies to win, he wanted the players to play well and, like every West Indian, he wanted the players to play for the West Indies and to win for the West Indies.
He wanted them, however, to be reasonable, to realise that the West Indies is a poor place and cannot afford to pay them what they probably deserve, or what some other countries pay their players.
He wants them to understand that they are West Indians and he wants them to understand that while it is hard for them to do, they should be West Indians and give a little to other West Indians to help in their development.
He probably remembered how they benefited as youngsters coming up in the region from those who went before and probably argued that they should give back a little.
He also wants them to make as much as they can make by allowing them to go and play in the many T20 leagues around the world, by giving them the required "no objection certificates" and whatever they want in order to play.
In other words, he would like the players to cooperate with the board, particularly in the interest of West Indies cricket.
In other words, although money is important, he would like the West Indies players to respect West Indies cricket, to play whatever cricket they want to play, but only when the West Indies are not in action.
All he wanted was that the players be a little bit less selfish.
The players, however, right or wrong, and from way back when, quarrelled with the board over money, from George Headley and Alfred Valentine and even in those times when the board had no money, or very little money.
The problem continued with the coming of Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket, it continued when West Indies became champions of the world, and it got worse under presidents Peter Short and Rousseau.
Short went to London to sort out Brian Lara's problem when Lara moved out of the team's hotel; and Rousseau went to London when the team flew from a series against Pakistan to Johannesburg and then to London to sort out the dispute over money.
The West Indies were big, the players were big and it appeared that every problem the board had with the players ended with the players rolling up their sleeves and ready for a fight.
On many of those occasions, the board had dialogue with representatives of the players before they left the West Indies, but it was as if the players were saying to the board, "You can't do without us; pay us, or else."
And the board always paid up, more or less.
Cameron is right. Every time there was a tour in recent years, the players threatened or went on strike for one thing or the other. No one, except the senior players, ever knew if a tour was really on.
That had to stop, or rather, have to stop. West Indies cricket is big. It means a lot to the people. The board, the players' association and the players must get together in the interest of West Indies cricket and the people.
Cameron's attitude to solve the problem is not the recommended style, but there are some who believe that there comes a time when you should, or must fight fire with fire if you hope to survive.
On top of it all, the players' way doing of business can only be successful if they win all the time. When they win, as they did in India, they can flex their muscles, or cock a hoop at the board, as they did in India.
Well said, Cameron. Your role, as president of the board, and as you said, is definitely to run West Indies cricket and the players' role, as players, is definitely to play cricket to the best of their ability.
If you both do that, definitely to the best of your abilities, West Indies will shortly be on top, or they will be very close to the top.