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Tony Becca | The power of cricket in the West Indies

Published:Sunday | December 11, 2016 | 12:00 AM
WICB president Dave Cameron

Once upon a time, the big names in cricket were those of the players, those of men like Don Bradman of Australia, George Headley of the West Indies, Wally Hammond of England, Vijay Hazare of India, and Hanif Mohammed of Pakistan.

No one knew, or really wanted to know, who were the presidents of say Australia, England, or Pakistan, or those of teams like India or the West Indies.

Today, however, it is a different story. Almost everyone knows who is the 'big boy' in almost every Test-playing country, and, especially so, those who run the show in India and the West Indies.

And the reason for this is simply the growing importance of money and power, or power and money, in the world, and especially in the world of cricket.

India have long been rich but not so powerful, and especially so in cricket; and the West Indies were powerful, especially in cricket, but never ever rich.

India, however, are behaving like a rich spoilt child who believes everyone is against them because of their wealth and their new-found strength in cricket and are fighting to protect both fronts.

The West Indies, on the other hand, are fighting 'tooth and nail' to regain their strength in cricket and to get some of the wealth they never had in the first place.

India, responsible for some 75 to 80 per cent of cricket's revenue, recently organised a three-team takeover of the ICC, and it was well supported by the West Indies after promises of greater revenue-sharing, among other things.

India, however, is in trouble. The Board of Control for Cricket in India has been through the courts for things like conflict of interest and corruption in its dealings with the Indian Premier League, and its former president, Sashank Manohar, now chairman of the ICC, has threatened to stop the three-team takeover while claiming it is bad for cricket.

He also claims that he cannot serve two masters; he cannot be the head of the ICC and serve Indian cricket at the same time.

 

Poorer cricket nations

 

Now the new BCCI president, Anuraj Thakur, is claiming that Manohar is all wrong, that Manohar ran out on the BCCI for the ICC position, that what the BCCI is doing is good for the poorer cricket nations, like the West Indies, and that nothing is wrong with an Indian sitting as chairman of the ICC and still looking about the welfare of Indian cricket.

They seem to be heading towards a showdown.

In the West Indies, however, the fight is of a different kettle of fish.

In the West Indies, the fight sees some of the people up against the Dave Cameron-led West Indies Cricket Board, and especially Cameron himself, claiming inefficiency and arrogance in carrying out its job.

Some have even accused the board of favouritism aimed at control in the selection of officers, cricket and administrators, to do the board's work, and thus charge the team's decline, or continued decline, mainly to the president's and the board's attitude.

He has been blamed for the continued lock out of the players, or most of them who had been involved with the strike in India, and who speak out, among other things.

It has been so bad that the CARICOM governments have tried to get the board to change its ways or run the risk of being disbanded.

The board, knowing its constitutional rights, however, has stood firm against all of this and has continued to do what it believes is 'right' for West Indies cricket, including the firing of popular coach Phil Simmons recently for expressing his disappointment with the board and the selectors.

Coach Phil Simmons, technical adviser to the board Richard Pybus, and Cameron were not on speaking terms before the axe fell on the coach.

The two boards, India and the West Indies, seem to be going in the same direction, except where it concerns their dealings with players and with the ICC.

 

Need for money

 

In this regard, India treat their players with kid's gloves while once scoffing at the ICC, especially where the use of the DRS was concerned, and the West Indies do what they like with the players, ignoring, possibly, the results and probably because of the need for money, bowing to the whims and fancies of the ICC.

The difference, however, is that in India the board is answerable to the people through the court of law, as has happened recently with quite a few cases going before the Supreme Court, the Indian high court.

Right now, the Chief Justice of India, T.S. Thakur, after reports by the Lodha Committee, has told the BCCI to fall in line or else, or something to that effect.

Chief Justice Thakur said recently: "The BCCI thinks it is a law unto itself. We know how to get our orders implemented. BCCI thinks it is the Lord. You better fall in line or we will make you fall in line. The conduct of the BCCI is in poor taste."

In the West Indies, a region of many territories and different things, such as different constitutions, flags, and money, that is not the case.

The cricket people of the West Indies are not protected by the courts, and the board, it seems, can do what it pleases, up to a point before normal justice steps in.

Dr Keith Mitchell, prime minister of Grenada and one of Cameron's biggest critics, resigned recently as the chairman of CARICOM's sub-committee on cricket due to difference of opinions of members of the regional body in the fight against Cameron.

Cricket on the field is changing.

With the growth of T20 cricket and the importance of television, the players are getting more money, and with the growing number of different faces, Indian and Pakistani faces, appearing in teams like South Africa, England, Australia, and New Zealand, the teams are changing.

Cricket, how the games is run, however, has changed also. It has changed in the boardroom, and especially in India and the West Indies.

For better or for worse, power and making money, and those who use cricket for this, is the order of the day, especially in India, and although they are not so rich, or so powerful these days, also in the West Indies.

In India, however, something is being done about it. The Lotha Committee has acted. It has asked for changes in the BCCI, and it is now before the Supreme Court.

And with cricket being the people's sport, with cricket being so important to the country, the Supreme Court of India is fulfilling its responsibility. It has threatened to straighten out the BCCI, it has set guidelines for office bearers of the BCCI, and the responsibilities of each office bearer is stipulated.

The BCCI has appealed the court's ruling, and the next sitting of the Supreme Court of India is due anytime now. The Supreme Court is expected to hand down its final ruling, and the BCCI is expected to comply to its orders, to satisfy the wishes of the people through the Lodha Committee, or else.

If only the West Indies had a Supreme Court to thrash out matters, or a Caribbean Community that had some teeth, or a Caribbean Court of Justice up and really running.