Sat | Aug 19, 2017

Tony Becca | Cricket needs an overhaul

Published:Sunday | December 25, 2016 | 12:00 AM
WICB President Dave Cameron

Oh, for something like India's Supreme Court.

Ever since the West Indies Cricket Board of Control was formed in June 1927, West Indies cricket has been considered the most important thing in the region.

It has been said, by numerous people - by politicians, by influential people, and mostly by the man in the street - that cricket is the link between the territories, between the islands, and that it is the force that keeps the West Indian islands and their people together, that binds them all together.

It is considered even a greater force of togetherness than the University of the West Indies, which was formed in 1948 by 18 countries in the region for the "higher education" of the people with the "aim of unlocking the potential for the economic and cultural growth".

The West Indies Cricket Board was formed mainly because each island was not strong enough to take on neither England nor Australia and they needed to come together and form one team, to select that team, and in the age of colonialism, that was important.

Simply put, Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad, or British Guiana could not compete in Test cricket. Alone, each was not good enough.

To play England as one team, to beat England, the colonial masters, was the ambition of every West Indian, and when the team did beat them, it was everlasting joy all over and outside the West Indies.

Cricket, therefore, took on an importance of no ordinary meaning. The cricketers were stars, the administrators were successful and well - respected people in the society, and because of all that, cricket was almost a law unto itself.

Anything cricket wanted, from anywhere, and probably regardless of who or what suffered, cricket got, and all because of the wishes of the people.

At the height of the West Indies' success at cricket, people talked about Caribbean unity and the spirit of the Caribbean people. It was, to almost everyone, all for one and one for all.

In the days of glory, it did not matter who played on the team, be it nine Barbadians, black or white, or seven Jamaicans, black or white, etcetera, etcetera, or whether a "small islander" was in the team.

In today's disappointing days, however, it matters a great deal who plays - black, white, or Indian - whether, for instance, they are from Barbados or from the Windward Islands, and the team is stripped to the bone each time it is announced, and especially each time it is beaten.

Everything seems to have gone wrong in the Caribbean, but nothing has changed, except for the captains, the players, the coaches, and the selectors.

Cricket, it is said by many, is still the heart-beat of the Caribbean, and to most of the territories, it still remains so.

Why then has cricket continued to be the most important sport in the region, or there about, and yet it is allowed to be used by the few, to be controlled, totally controlled, by one man, or by a few men.

True, the president, and the board members are voted into office by members of the fraternity, but for an association that consists of six-member boards, and when only 12 persons, two from each member board, are allowed to cast a vote, something must be wrong, or could be wrong, with such a system.

One does not need to be a genius to see what can happen in such a situation.

The board members are answerable to no one, and so is the president. If the president, by whatever means, manages to control seven votes, he is in, and he is in for as long as he wants. Whether he does a good job, or whether the people feel that he has done a good job, it does not matter.

There is nothing above the board member to which they are answerable. They are a law unto themselves, once they control the limited number of votes.

Some time ago, the Jamaica Cricket Association's executive voted unanimously not to support the West Indies board president's bid for a second term in office. But he was a Jamaican, and some members of the executive and members of the association saw it as such, and they called a special general meeting at which the association voted overwhelmingly to over-turn the executive committee's vote.

The reason for doing so, it was said, was that the president was a Jamaican.

In the final analysis, the law of the land is supposed to protect the people of the land, especially for something as important as cricket to the people of the land. The West Indies, however, is a region in which 12 sovereign countries, with 12 different constitutions, among other things, form six-member boards, and it is simply not so.

There is not a single entity to deal with what is supposed to be a common problem for the people, and any attempt to try and solve it by one of the entities that make up West Indies cricket would lead to destruction of that entity.

It would lead to all sorts of mayhem, and insularity would show its ugly head.

There is something called "CARICOM", however, but that is nothing more than just a figure head, or something like that. "CARICOM" is a sort of federation. It has tried to act. It has talked a lot, but nothing has ever come from all the talk.

And the board knows this, and that is why it virtually ignores anything "CARICOM" tries to do.

West Indies cricket needs help, and it needs help quickly.

Oh, for something like the Indian Supreme Court. Although it does not sound right, and although it happens in places like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and in Pakistan, where the governments are deeply involved in sports, it is needed in the West Indies, or something like it.

West Indies cricket needs something to look after its interest and the interest of the people.

In India, cricket is part of the people's business. Cricket is big. Cricket means money and money means cricket, and the Indian Premier League is based in India.

In India, cricket is protected by the laws of the land, and the Supreme Court in India has been called upon to rule on things such as conflict of interest, corruption, and other things in the interest of the people.

It has removed men from office, it has stopped men getting into office, and it is now about to rule on the members of the BCCI, the Board of Control for Cricket in India, following the board's refusal to make certain changes to cricket in India as recommended by the Lotha Committee.

The Supreme Court of India checked with the International Cricket Council, the ICC, to find out if it would be interfering with cricket in India before it moved to protect cricket in India and the people of India.

The ICC said no. The BCCI was not interfering with cricket, not according to its rules, which refer to government interference in sport.

In India, cricket is truly for the people of India, and India is looking out for its people. It is time the West Indies, or CARICOM, do something for its people.

The West Indies Cricket Board, as big as it is, must be answerable to someone.