Wed | Jun 20, 2018

Tony Becca | Unhappy professionals

Published:Sunday | December 10, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Dr Akshai Mansingh
Dave Cameron
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In 1986, the Antigua Recreation Ground rocked with the sounds of Gypsy's, Captain, the Ship is Sinking, as the West Indies marched to a back-to-back 5-0 demolition of England.

A weeks or so ago, events in West Indies cricket brought those words from the Trinidad and Tobago calypsonian into focus again, only this time, it seems to be saying, "President, the ship is sinking."

West Indies cricket, or Cricket West Indies, has been having problems for quite a number of years now, what with fights over players' wages, strikes, court cases, quarrels with the players, suspension of players, hiring and firing of coaches, et cetera, and with many people, including regional prime ministers, blaming the West Indies Cricket Board and calling, in vain, on the board to resign lock, stock, and barrel.

After rumblings in recent times, however, and just a few days ago, cracks appeared in the board when a committee resigned, water started to seep in, and other committee members jumped overboard in mad haste.

Dr Akshai Mansingh, a member of the medical committee, jumped ship, and he was followed, a few days ago, by Dr Donovan Bennett and Dr RenÈe Best, two members of the medical committee.

It is also understood, from good sources that Denis Byron of the governance committee and Joe Harris of the ethics committee have also resigned and that Dr Anyl Goopesingh, the remaining member of the medical committee, is expected to follow shortly.

Dr Mansingh resigned due to an "untenable relationship", and Dr Bennett resigned due to "deepening differences."

"I wouldn't say the relationship with the president (Dave Cameron) has been great, but I would say that it has been quite good and cordial", said Dr Bennett, who has remained as a director of the board.

According to Dr Bennett, "it has to do with difficulties carrying out our responsibilities. We had a difference of opinions. It was difficult to get things done, and I don't think we got the type of support or respect that was due to voluntary professional people."

It is understood that the break-up really came when players selected for tours broke down, fingers were pointed in the medical team's direction, and they took objection.

"We objected to taking the blame because we pass people medically fit, and not functionally fit," said one member of the medical team.

 

PEOPLE WHO LOVE CRICKET

 

The resigning members, with the exception of Dr Bennett, are not members of the board. They were, however, members of a committee of the board. They are successful people who are recognised in their communities. They are people who love cricket, they are people who, many of them, served cricket well, and they are people who were asked and who were willing to serve cricket.

I do not know most of the gentlemen, but I certainly do know the two Jamaicans, and I knew them for years while they were working with cricketers, young cricketers and older cricketers, and voluntarily at that.

I know Dr Mansingh and Dr Bennett, and although they can make mistakes, and have made mistakes, I know that they are both qualified medical professionals who deserve to be treated as such; that they are both voluntary workers who are honest people who deserve to be treated as such; and that they both love cricket and deserve to be respected.

I also know that Mansingh and Bennett know who controls West Indies cricket. I know that they know that it is Dave Cameron and the board members, and I know that all things being equal, they would not buck that control.

"I wanted to give the president a free hand, but really, it was difficult to get things done," said Bennett. "The medical committee had planned a meeting in Trinidad to streamline how we do things, and two days before that meeting, it was cancelled, and without notification at that."

The resignation of three committee members, or five committee members, and the possible resignation of at least one other may not shake the board, but with the outgoing members all being successful professionals, with four being medical doctors, it does have an effect on the reputation of the board and could have a serious effect, or a good effect, when the next election comes around.

It may be just what Dr Keith Mitchell and company have been waiting on to assist in removing the board.

Many, including prime ministers, players, and spectators, have tried to remove the members of the West Indies Cricket Board, or Cricket West Indies, but the board and its president have stood firm and have even, much to the regret of the majority of the people, renamed the once powerful West Indies, the Windies.

Maybe the sight, or the thought, of so many professionals bailing out together will be just what is needed to break the camel's back, to get the change they need, or to get back to the West Indies.