Portia unleashes against the WICB at Caricom summit
Bert Wilkinson, Contributor
The region's only two female leaders ganged up on the Antigua-based West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) amid its string of apparently never-ending quarrels with players and governments at the opening of a two-day heads of government meeting in Suriname yesterday, saying the time has long come for it to be held accountable for all its actions.
Jamaica's prime minister, Portia Simpson Miller, and Kamla Persad-Bissessar of Trinidad used a break on opening day of the mid-year summit to fire away at cricket administrators, saying they plan to ask colleagues to have a full discussion about the state of regional cricket at the meeting.
"We should hold the organisations relating to cricket accountable," said Simpson Miller as she and Persad-Bissessar posed together for photographs for the first time as the trade bloc's only two current women heads of government and as International Women's Day was being observed here and across the globe.
Standing next to Simpson Miller, Persad-Bissessar wasted little time in publicly throwing her support behind the Jamaican leader, saying: "I intend to join with you in your call for some transformation, certainly to get change with respect to West Indies cricket."
The two and other leaders appear to be aware of growing concerns in the region about the slow and steady decline of the game in the region, a series of public fights between executives, governments, with the players' association and with some of the top Test team performers like Jamaican and former West Indies opener Chris Gayle.
Call for resolution
Simpson Miller and the board crossed proverbial swords last month after the prime minister had called for a resolution of the more than year-long bitter row between Gayle, the WICB and coach Ottis Gibson.
The WICB had lashed back, suggesting the prime minister was ill-informed and badly advised. Persad-Bissessar called the WICB's reply to the Jamaican leader "very disrespectful", saying that "we do have some very strong sentiments to share at today's (yesterday's) meeting. You will hear of these later."
Simpson Miller went even further saying governments were more than indirectly linked to cricket as she reminded the WICB that governments "spent quite a lot of money" building new stadiums, improving the general infrastructure, the level of security.
Simpson Miller had raised the stakes about the game after her call for a resolution of the Chris Gayle affair by announcing plans to discuss the issue fully at the summit. The other main agenda item has to do with a review of the Guyana-based secretariat and its dire need for funding to avoid possible closure.
Among some of the other feuds the board is involved with are its battle to avoid the Guyana government disbanding the elected cricket board and replacing it with its own men of choice, the omission of Jamaica as a venue for a Test match for the upcoming Australian tour and several pieces of unfinished dispute with the players' association.