Laurie Foster | May the better man win
At the time of writing, there is one Twenty20 match to go in the series against England. The result will be known before this column is read. Overall, the Jason Holder-led team has performed creditably, although not at a consistent level, with a 2-1 win in the Test Matches and a 2-2 tie in the ODI format where the Englishmen remain atop the world rankings. With England having an unassailable 2-0 lead in the shortest version, one may well ponder how the West Indies could have performed so dismally in the second encounter, especially since it is the format where the team has distinguished itself in recent times. Notwithstanding a better hand in the final game, back-to-back tournament wins at the last two global championships, speak to a lot more than was brought to bear on home turf against England.
While the team’s performances at the Test level and in the ODIs are being celebrated, it may be the right time to reflect on what should be done to further lift the stocks of the region’s cricket in two areas and at least curb the slide in T20 country.
Fast-forward a couple of weeks when the presidency of Cricket West Indies (CWI) comes up for consideration. Former team manager Ricky Skerritt, out of St Kitts and Nevis, will try his luck against the incumbent and superconfident Jamaican, Dave Cameron. Elections of this nature are usually decided by whose message resonates in a more emphatic manner with the electors whose ballots will decide the outcome.
Cameron and his running mate, Emmanuel Nanthan, enjoy the support of Barbados, Guyana, and the Windward Islands while Skerritt, with Dr Kishore Shallow alongside, is banking on the predictables, that of his home territory, the Leeward Islands and the Trinidad & Tobago lobby. Jamaica, with another term afforded Wilford ‘Billy’ Heaven in recent polling, does not seem to be convinced that their home-boy, Cameron, should receive their vote. Foster’s Fairplay, in an attempt to decide who is the better man for the post, is thinking only about proven performance. In fairness to Skerritt, he has not yet been given a top-of-the-ladder opportunity to sink or swim in the sometimes turbulent waters that encircle West Indies cricket.
What is raging in the time leading up to the voting is a highly toxic situation in which both candidates are participating with equal vitriol. Skerritt speaks of Cameron in what must be considered highly combative tones, saying in an article by senior correspondent George Dobell and carried on the espncricinfo website, “The insensitivity and stubbornness of CWI president Dave Cameron have created a poor relationship with West Indies players and coaches,” adding that “his tenure as president had caused significant damage to the Board in both financial and reputational terms.”
All this was in response to an interview with Cameron on the popular Line and Length programme. Cameron described Skerritt as “an indictment” and claimed that the tenure of the former manager was “a period of turmoil.’’ The CWI president added that “Ricky Skerritt’s history as West Indies team manager has disqualified him as a candidate to lead the region’s governing body.”
Cameron would seem to be prepared to let his record speak for itself. Two world T20 triumphs plus a women’s and youth title are not achievements to be ignored when the final choice is to be made. West Indies cricket has had to endure too many negative images in the recent past.
The pullout from the tour of India and the controversy that followed, the Darren Bravo/Cameron face-to-face, and the less than palatable exit of Shivnarine Chanderpaul from the Test arena are more than enough. As Reggae singer, George Nooks, sang in his rendition of Tribal War, “We nuh want nuh more a dat.”
Now that there is a flicker of light somewhere in that tunnel, let there be a quick and amicable resolution as to which contender along with his committed troops is ready to take the game forward.
Cricket is beginning to give the region that feel-good emotion again. Let us not spoil it with an acrimonious standoff at the polls. May the man with the better intentions and the will to execute, get the voters’ nod.
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