Mon | Dec 5, 2016

Dr Gonsalves’ crusade

Published:Monday | February 2, 2015 | 12:00 AM

This newspaper holds no brief for Dave Cameron, the president of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), who happens to be Jamaican.

But we are appalled by the tactics being employed by Ralph Gonsalves, the prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, to have Mr Cameron dislodged from the post when WICB members vote in early March. It is not far removed from the ploy of elected legislators, who use the protection of Parliament, to hurl abuse at enemies who have neither the same platform for reply nor recourse to the law.

At issue is last October's abandonment of a tour of India by the West Indies cricket team, in a dispute over pay, for which the Indians have made a claim of US$42 million against the WICB for lost earnings.

Dr Gonsalves blames Mr Cameron for the fiasco. On the basis of the publicly available facts, we interpret the issue differently. The blame rests with greedy senior players.

The players, it is recalled, left for India, without having signed contracts. A new long-term agreement was being concluded between their union, the West Indies Players Association (WIPA), which, up to then, had confined its activities primarily to the benefit to those players in international teams.

 

MONEY SHIFT

 

The new pact provided for higher match and contract fees for these senior players. But it did something else: sponsorship money that was in the past shared among this small group was shifted to funding contracts for 90 players employed to six regional franchises in a move to professionalise the game in the Caribbean. The upshot: The senior players in India did not like the deal and ultimately walked off the job, claiming that WIPA went too far.

On the face of it, by going to India, they could be interpreted to have entered into an agreement with the WICB, on which the board had more than a reasonable expectation would be carried through. It is not inconceivable that these players, and WIPA, could be sued for this presumed breach.

 

BALANCE, FAIRNESS KEY

 

Dr Gonsalves, reprising his old role as anti-Establishment crusader and the garb of enfant terrible, single-handedly exculpated the players from any blame, even as he held himself out as an honest broker between the parties, ostensibly representing the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). He has cast the non-selection of two of the players from the India debacle as a breach of the non-victimisation deal he helped to negotiate after the fiasco.

Now, exercising the weight and influence of office, he has urged the WICB to dump Mr Cameron, arguing that the board president has neither the maturity nor the skills to lead. Perhaps! And the WICB may so decide.

But if that is its position, we hope it is not on the public declarations of Dr Gonsalves, pursuing a case for which he has offered no facts. The substance of Dr Gonsalves' argument is that "I happen to know certain facts".

We agree that West Indies cricket is larger than Dave Cameron, and as a public official, his performance is subject to scrutiny. But we also believe in balance and fairness and in arriving at positions on the basis of facts.

We suspect that this crisis is seen as an opportunity for CARICOM and the region's political leadership to assert a management role in West Indies cricket. We remain alert.