Tue | May 21, 2019

Paul Wright | Renewed hope for Windies cricket

Published:Tuesday | March 26, 2019 | 12:16 AM
Ricky Skerritt arriving prior to the Cricket West Indies annual general meeting and elections, held at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel on Sunday.

At approximately 3:05 p.m. on Sunday, my phone lit up with a WhatsApp notification. I received, from a friend, a message from Windies Cricket, the official website of Cricket West Indies (CWI). “Breaking news, Ricky Skerritt and Dr Kishore Shallow have been elected as the new president and vice-president of Cricket West Indies”.

What followed was a flood of messages, with one particular message standing out. “Free at last. Free at last, thank God Almighty, we are free at last,” a quote from Martin Luther King, an American pastor who gave his life fighting for equality and transparency.

There are some cricket fans who have joined with some notable past cricket greats, players and professionals associated with the CWI, who are relieved. At last, these professionals can now speak their thoughts clearly and forcefully without the visceral and real fear of quick and severe repercussions, whether their ideas and thoughts make sense.

RECEIVING SUPPORT

As long as the boss was criticised, down came the axe. No more, promised the new president. After nominations, past president Cameron received support from the territorial boards of Guyana, Barbados and the Windward Islands. Trinidad and Tobago, the Leeward Islands, and, lately, Jamaica voiced their support for President Skerritt. After the governing boards of Guyana, Barbados and the Windward Islands refused to listen or read the manifesto of the challengers, Skerritt, and Shallow, Cameron was eerily confident. President Skerritt, however, pointed out that Cameron was “advancing his plans for an autocratic leadership structure, which marginalises the role of commercially recruited executives, the incumbent has placed his personal thinking diametrically opposed to the values of West Indies cricket”.

During Cameron’s tenure, cricket legends have been either ignored or marginalised, and any vocal criticism of his actions were met with either a rant on social media or removal from cricket duties. Most recently, the appointment of Richard Pybus as coach, with no obvious advertisement of the post after the unusual and sudden departure of Coach Law, gave credence to President Skerritt’s complaint. A motion by the board of Trinidad and Tobago to have the vote for president done by secret ballot was carried by the majority present, setting the stage for the dramatic 8-4 victory of Skerritt. The attempt by Cameron to disparage the integrity of those who changed their minds after the results were announced, the vanquished past president left as he had come, throwing darts at any who opposes him and his lack of leadership skills. No one believes that the Windies will suddenly rise to the top of world cricket, where we once were, but for the first time in six years, there is hope and a genuine feeling of “yes, we can.” Go Windies!

Also, last week there was the shocking revelation of an incident at Calabar regarding an alleged fracas between a noted physics teacher and a group of ‘trackies’ regarding some mattresses. What really occurred is now under investigation, but what is clear is that there was dithering on the part of the administration at Calabar High School, and a possible slap on the wrist for the children found guilty of initiating the confrontation. As could be expected, there was immediate cries of “storm in a teacup” and “low the youth dem,” from those who defend the ‘win at all cost’ mantra that has overcome sports in schools, to the obvious detriment of the real purpose of school, which is “a rounded education, in which sports is an integral extra-curricular part of this holistic effort at preparing our children for life as an adult.”

The editorial in Sunday’s edition of this newspaper, ‘Cynicism versus principle at Calabar,’ nailed the apparent double standard at Calabar when it comes to academics versus sports, and how one of the country’s leading schools views the holistic education of our children. The fight for our children’s future continues.