On restructuring West Indies cricket
Tony Becca - ON THE BOUNDARY
After 135 years and many, many Test matches, Test cricket, international cricket, which started with England and Australia, now consists - surprisingly and ridiculously so - of only 10 teams, including Zimbabwe.
No wonder, therefore, that after so many years, cricket is only now talking about changes in its structure, how the game is run and how the money in the game is shared.
Commissioned by the Inter-national Cricket Council (ICC), the Lord Woolf Report, in its recommendations, talks about independent governance for the ICC, about a clear pathway to full member status, about a fairer financial model with funds distributed on a "needs" basis and not on a fixed percentage basis to full members, about full member status not being restricted to the Test-playing countries, and many other things.
The recommendations want to put an end to the gap between full members, associate members and affiliate members - to make it easier to develop their cricket and to move from one to the other; to stop the practice of 75 per cent of the net profits of cricket going to the full members and the rest, 25 per cent, to the associates and affiliates; and to stop the practice of full members behaving like cricket is theirs, and theirs alone by divine right.
Warren Deutrom, Cricket Ireland's CEO, said recently that the "sport should be run, governed and managed for all the countries and not just for the 10" and that "cricket now needs to be recognised as a global sport".
The change in how cricket has been managed over the years and has been changing recently, however, is about to change.
In South Africa, for example, earlier this month the players asked for their board to be restructured in accordance with the recommendations of a government inquiry into the payment of unauthorised bonuses, and just four days ago the acting president of South Africa's cricket resigned.
The government committee, under the chairmanship of Judge Chris Nicholson, had suggested that Cricket South Africa (CSA) appoint a smaller board with a majority of independent directors, after finding that their CEO had breached the Companies Act in a manner serious enough to be referred to the National Prosecuting Authority.
And in the West Indies the Caribbean governments have decided to get involved in West Indian cricket. This has happened after problems in Guyana which led to the government taking over cricket; after problems in Trinidad and Tobago; after problems in Antigua; after problems involving the non-selection of Chris Gayle to the West Indies team; the non-involvement of Jamaica as a venue for the Australian tour; the criticism of Jamaica's prime minister by the West Indies Board's CEO; the support of Jamaica's prime minister by the former prime minister of Antigua; and the support by the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago.
Although the governments fund West Indies cricket, sometimes and as much as they can, even though they facilitate the proper running of West Indies cricket and although they have a right, must have a right up to a point to get involved, it is difficult to see what they can do.
Apart from sports rules about governments' involvement with sports, with cricket, it also must be remembered that the West Indies is made up of a group of islands with their own governments and their own money, with their own goals and their own pride and with their own constituencies.
It should also be remembered the many things - good things - including federation, which in the past should have been done, but which was left undone, because of the above.
To me, the governments, these governments of the West Indies, can only reasonably expect to help West Indies cricket by not only doing what it has been doing over the years, but by guiding its administration, by trying to keep its management on the straight and narrow - far away from insularity, far away from preferential treatment of players and administrators and far away from any hint of victimisation in the selection of players and venues for matches.
The governments, certainly not these governments, cannot attempt to control, to run West Indies cricket and it cannot even attempt to select the people who run West Indies cricket.
West Indies cricket is going through parlous times and change is necessary and important and although the change may be dependent on who are in charge, the change must come from within.
Based on my experience, based on the experience of others in my profession during the years of practising fully my profession, based on the words of former players and former administrators, West Indies cricket needs to make a few changes, it needs to select players who are ready to represent the West Indies.
The West Indies team needs players who are good, who are properly trained as players and as representatives. It needs to select players who want to be top-class cricketers, it needs to select players who want to represent the West Indies and who demonstrate that desire over a period of time. It needs to select players who respect other players and it needs to select players who will continue to strive to be better in order to perform and to win, most of the time if not all the time.
West Indies cricket needs more players with the right attitude.
For too long the West Indies have selected players after one flash of brilliance, players who were not developed, players who did not know how to defend their wicket on a suspect pitch or how to bowl three balls on a spot. They have selected players who did not know the basic rules of the game they played, players who cared little if their colleagues - from another of their neighbouring countries - failed or not, players who believed that they were better than they really were and players who did not know how to represent themselves much more how to represent a people, or a set of people from different islands.
There were not much of these kinds of players on the West Indies team a few years ago and there is still not much of these players on the West Indies team today, but one, or two, or three is enough to make the difference.
One more thing: international sport is international sport, it is competitive sport and everyone wants to win every time. West Indians are no different and the West Indies need to, as they used to do, select their best team every time.
Today, whenever the West Indies team is selected, cricket fans can easily select another West Indies team from right here in the West Indies that has a good chance, or an even chance, of beating the West Indies team.