2nd November 2014
A one-stop WI Rumshop round-up of Caribbean cricket comment, news & views
It wasn’t quite 11am on the eleventh of the eleventh, but the hostilities officially ceased and the ‘war talks’ broke down in the early hours of 1/11. Nelson? Perhaps dear old Shep is hopping from foot to foot somewhere at a celestial square leg position. Certainly, there are a great many Caribbean cricket folk who are currently hopping mad at the latest developments, from their own vantage points.
So the shelling has stopped, and the rumble of gunfire has quelled. But is West Indies cricket yet to face a fatal pandemic of epic proportions? Will it ever recover from the life-threatening blight that may be about to sweep through these shores?
The newspapers and websites here in the Caribbean have, on the whole, been happy to carry pictures of a smiling President Cameron, looking as pleased with himself as Mr Chamberlain after stepping off a return flight from Munich in 1938. No gun boat diplomacy here. This was an unqualified umbrella-carrying, slip-of-paper-fluttering success!
Covering the story, the Trinidad Express reported that while Cameron may, or may not be, personally pleased at the outcome of the negotiations, he had his own message of appeasement: “We have a modality for the way forward” he announced.
Dr Ralph Gonsalves, the Caribbean’s equivalent of a UN peacekeeper, was equally impressed by the ‘modalities’: “We have the framework and the modalities for the resolution of the issues”.
So there we have it. All the mods – but no cons.
Further in the report, Roger Seepersad disclosed that the WICB will be seeking governmental assistance in the current crisis – by asking Caricom to meet the financial cost of the BCCI’s claim.
Well, if they are going to bankrupt West Indies cricket, why not bankrupt the Caribbean economy as well? But then again, perhaps the columns will tally and the books be squared away if Caricom is successful in its on-going claim for slavery reparations from Europe? Maybe the simplest thing all round would be if the European Union immediately wrote a blank cheque made payable to the BCCI?
The Trinidad Guardian reported the details of the truce, and profiled the three men who will make up the Task Force to address the collapse of good relations with the BCCI.
Barbados’ Nation’s Sunday Sun, hailed the ending of the impasse, and reported that the players had “patched up their differences with WIPA”, adding that “the players hope that this crisis now becomes the opportunity to establish good relations between the WICB, the players and the Caribbean public.” Charming ‘forgive and forget’ sentiments. Let’s hope the BCCI are similarly forgiving and forget the bill of USD$42m that they presented to the WICB on Friday.
In the same paper, Mac Fingall was not so cheerful about the outcome:
“All three parties have been found guilty of poor judgement, lack of respect for each other, insensitivity, and most of all causing monumental global embarrassment to the region, the wider Caribbean, the various diasporas where Caribbean people reside, and even to all black people worldwide… this must be recorded as one of the worst handled sporting disputes ever.”
He went on to say that the players “made arguably the most damaging decision ever in sports history”; but he is “confident that the politicians who have volunteered and the lawyer who has been retained to help “save our future”, will achieve their goal. They will use skill and tact which are foreign to the WICB, WIPA and the West Indies players.” I hope he is right.
Tony Cozier, in his syndicated Nation article, which appears in many Caribbean newspapers, and is carried by ESPN Cricinfo, recapped the issues up to now. He pointed out that the tone of BCCI’s demand letter made it clear that they held Dave Cameron personally responsible for the tour’s abandonment:
“The terminology is pertinent. It wasn’t that the players withdrew but that Cameron, fiddling on the other side of the globe while the flames were engulfing the tour, pulled them out.”
Tony seems here to be endorsing the ‘Cameron cancelled the tour’ lobby. He may be right, but I wish he had a little more to say about the actions of the striking players.
He goes on to refer to Dr Rudi Webster’s article this week which suggested that the WICB “should immediately commit itself to a structural adjustment programme somewhat similar to those designed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for countries that are performing poorly and experiencing serious financial, organisational and leadership problems. Failure to do so will result in a repetition of the behaviour patterns that have plagued West Indies cricket for years.”
Substituting the ICC for the IMF, Cozier does admit that “with its connotations of neo-colonialism” such a notion might not be “readily embraced”. Having said that, if the WICB is already at the mercy of the BCCI, might it not be better off seeking sanctuary and safe haven with the ICC? They may be a little more inclined to clemency.
While Tony Cozier was reluctant to point a finger at the striking players, Sir Ronald Saunders in The Barbados Advocate was less shy:
“There are obvious protracted and troubling differences between the West Indian cricketers and the WICB. But, whatever those differences are, the manner of resolving them should not have been a public walk out of a tour of India before the television cameras of the cricketing world.”
But Sir Ronald does not hold the players solely responsible:
“The blame must be shared by the WICB. The festering sore of West Indian cricket administration has not been cured despite many attempts to do so.”
The upshot of the cancellation of the Indian tour is, he feels, not just about cricket, but international relations:
“Calamity has overtaken West Indian cricket. Governments will have to step in to resolve, through diplomatic means, the major financial problem that the players’ abandonment of the tour of India has created. The resolution will require employing the most credible high-level West Indians to secure the Indian government’s intervention with the BCCI to work out an arrangement that will not kill West Indian cricket.”
Also in the Advocate, John Blackman regrets the fact that Caribbean governments have not taken over the governance of cricket in the region before now.
Despite the end to the impasse, questions are still being asked. Tony Becca, in the Jamaica Gleaner posited the following:
“There are four things, however, which should be explained, especially as things should be done properly if things are to work effectively. Why, for example, did Denesh Ramdin, the Test captain, not deal with the issue, why were the players beside Bravo when he announced the end of the tour at the toss, where was the WICB president during all this, and who really called off the tour?”
Becca also queried the involvement of the WICB’s Director of Cricket, Richard Pybus:
“From all reports, the BCCI was first contacted with news of a cancellation of the tour by Richard Pybus, an employee of the WICB… Pybus is not a West Indian, he is not a member of the WICB, he is employed by the WICB to do a specific job and, as such, he had no right to act above his weight, not even if he was told to do so. Probably, however, he was given the impression that he is invaluable to West Indies cricket and, as such, has the right, or the authority, to take onto himself powers which are reserved for the president.”
While Tony Becca called into question Richard Pybus’ motives, Garfield Robinson defended those of WIPA President, Wavell Hinds. Colin Croft, meanwhile questioned the level of trust in leadership in the West Indies in more general terms:
“Our present lot are mostly coined and considered as parochial, provincial, insular and selfish.”
I think he is right.
Overcoming that may yet prove to be the Caribbean’s biggest obstacle.
David Oram is the resident ‘statto’, and sometime presenter of ‘Mason & Guests’ – Voice of Barbados’ weekly cricket talk show, the leading cricket radio show in the West Indies – hosted by the Caribbean’s principal radio commentator, Andrew Mason. You can tweet me at DavidOram@colblimp1983.