Orville Higgins | New president, same old ‘controversial’ CWI
One of the things that characterised the tenure of Dave Cameron as president of Cricket West Indies (CWI) was the constant negative news that seemed to follow him at every turn. When it was not players walking off a tour, it was political leaders calling for his head, or senior players mouthing off in the public space, or coaches being bitter at the way they were dismissed, etc.
There was seemingly daily controversy and Cameron himself was believed to be the main reason for all this turmoil.
When Cameron was voted out and replaced as CWI president by Ricky Skerritt at the recent annual general meeting, most of us felt that, if nothing else, the new administration would get things to quieten down. We could accept that the results on the field might not improve drastically, but we wanted an end to all this off-field drama.
Alas, that is not the case, at least not yet!
In the past few weeks, what has happened? We have had the removal of the interim head coach, only to be replaced by another interim! We have had an assistant coach threatening legal action in the way he was removed. We have seen the chief selector being summarily dismissed and another man get his post. To make the whole thing even more compelling is that we have learnt over the last 48 hours that this same chief selector and his underlings will also seek to go to the courts to challenge their firing on the grounds that it was either “wrongful” or “unlawful”.
There is more.
Since Skerritt has taken over, we have seen where Condo Riley out of Barbados has come out swinging, blasting CWI for staging the ongoing cricket camp at The University of the West Indies in Barbados, when CWI owns its own training facility in Antigua. Sir Andy Roberts and Michael Holding, two legends who cannot be accused of being Dave Cameron loyalists, have both expressed concern about some of these sweeping changes, with Holding sharing his belief that players should be consulted before any coaching change.
On Jamaican TV two nights ago, the president of the Jamaica Cricket Association, Billy Heaven, was at pains to point out that his position as head of a CWI financial committee had nothing to do with “politics.” In layman’s terms, his new post was not a reward for getting Skerritt the two crucial Jamaican votes at the last election.
If we thought the transition would be smooth, we were dead wrong! It is now appearing then that maybe Dave Cameron was not the problem at all. Maybe these upheavals are just part and parcel of what West Indies cricket has come to be. Maybe we are asking too much when we ask one man to lead an organisation, with so much at stake, involving so many countries, and it does not involve rancour and bad blood.
In their own way, I am sure both Cameron and Skerritt mean well, but maybe they both have bitten off more than they could comfortably chew. My hope is that none of this affects the cricketers (and thereby the cricket) going forward. The appointment of Floyd Reifer, for example, means that much of the senior team would be exposed to three different coaches in less than a year. Remember Stuart Law was at the helm only a few months ago. We are going into the 50-overs World Cup with a new chairman of selectors, who wouldn’t necessarily have been watching regional one-day cricket in recent times. As Sir Andy Roberts quipped recently, “What is he going to pick the team from, the scorebook?”
These are undesirable state of affairs. Let’s pray that while we fiddle at the administrative level, Cricket West Indies is not set to burn.