Another Fine Mess

28th September 2015

Patrolling the Boundary  – a view from the outfield

This weekend West Indies’ coach Phil Simmons went public to express his deep dissatisfaction at the recent selection of WIndies’ ODI squad for the upcoming tour of Sri Lanka.

He was apparently outvoted 3-2 by the selection panel, despite having the support of Convenor of Selectors, Clive Lloyd and captain, Jason Holder (who does not have a vote). The assumption is Simmons’ disquiet is over the continuing non-selection of fellow Trinidadians Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard.

This squad has not yet been made public – and yet the arguments rage and anger has been expressed – at Simmons for ‘going public’ and betraying the trust of ‘collective responsibility’ – while equally a perception gains greater ground with each passing crisis and scandal: that there is something rotten at the core of the WICB.

Without taking time to frame a more measured response, here are my immediate observations:

1) I personally agreed with the ‘sacking’ (because that’s effectively what it was) of the Strike ring-leaders – supposedly Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard. What they did was unpardonable and there is no mitigation.

2) The WICB and/or selectors should have been honest enough to say Bravo & Pollard were excluded for those reasons – not hide behind the ingenuous excuse of ‘form’. The ECB were pilloried for doing likewise with Kevin Pietersen (sacking him for reasons of character rather than cricket) – and yet there was no room left for confusion (with either the public or selectors) after Andrew Strauss clarified the situation – whether you agreed with it or not: he was out, and that was that. Richard Pybus, as the WICB’s Director of Cricket, should have made the situation over Bravo and Pollard equally clear – but has failed to do so or intervene in any form. He is culpable. His lack of intervention and failure to offer some clarity has exacerbated the situation. His position has to be reviewed.

3) Dave Cameron has been accused by some respected judges of behaving autocraticly, even despotically, as President of the WICB. Certainly there has a been a whiff of ‘brokering no argument’ from the top in his time in charge, and in his public dealings with players, the press and political figures.

4) Cameron’s re-distribution of wages to the rank & file in WIndies professional cricket was a good thing for the long-term health of WI cricket.

5) The taking of this money from the pay of the international players was appalling handled – and allegedly with the naive connivance of the WIPA & its boss Wavell Hinds.

6) The mistrust engendered between the Board, the Players’ union and the international West Indies players caused the ODI team’s strike in India – for which those guilty on ALL sides should have been punished and held accountable for bringing WIndies cricket into disrepute: Bravo should have been publicly banned for life; but both Cameron and Hinds should also have been forced from office for their reprehensible behaviour and refusal to properly engage with the protagonists in the affair.

7) Phil Simmons naturally wants what he thinks is WIndies’ strongest side. He was lead to believe Bravo etc were left out at for the World Cup squad for cricket reasons. This lie has now been exposed – and he suggests strings have been pulled by influences outside the selection committee – a not very veiled reference to the WICB – to keep them out of the team.

8) Simmons should have kept his own council and ‘towed the party line’. You DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES SPEAK OUT AGAINST DECISIONS MADE BY A COMMITTEE BEHIND CLOSED DOORS AND EXPECT TO KEEP YOUR JOB. Collective responsibility is ESSENTIAL. Without it co-operation and trust is impossible. Simmons must know his outburst puts his own job and reputation on the line.

9) Therefore Simmons has to resign or be sacked. But surely he would not have taken this step lightly? Phil Simmons is an honourable, upstanding man. To have been forced to go public with this issue demonstrates that there are greater dark forces of malevolence behind the scenes than we, or he, thought when he accepted this position. Remember, Simmons would have had low expectations when taking the Coach role – he has worked before with organisations perceived to be as inefficient, underfunded or short-staffed as the WICB – and yet he has been surprised. I suspect the WICB may be the most inefficient, insular, undemocratic and autocratic organisation in world cricket.

10) Simmons position is now untenable and he must resign. But more importantly Dave Cameron must go. While he remains at the helm of the WICB Caribbean cricket is heading inexorably towards civil war.

David Oram

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