Dr Rudi Webster responds to our podcast on the Caricom Review Panel’s Caribbean Cricket Governance Report

16th November 2015

Overthrows  – backing up strong returns

I’ve been delighted by the response I’ve received, both supportive and critical, of the recent podcast I recorded with Dr Andrew Forde about the report submitted by Caricom’s Cricket Governance Review Panel into the state of West Indies cricket, and its recommendation for the immediate dissolution of the WICB.

You can still listen to that extra edition of ‘The Willow in the WIndies’ here.

I’ve had a number of emails on the subject, and have sought the permission of my correspondents to share publicly their feedback, where possible, within the forum of this blog.

One such expert opinion I’ve received came from Dr Rudi Webster, and he has consented for me to publish his observations.

In the podcast I stated my own personal reservations about the probity and neutrality of the panel, and the political personalities behind its inception and chairing – especially with regard to the previous enmity between the Board and some senior Caribbean politicians.

In particular, I was reflecting back upon the perceived reneging on the understanding reached within the Hyatt Hotel Accord – in which the WICB through President Dave Cameron was reported to have guaranteed Prime Ministers Dr Keith Mitchell of Grenada and Dr Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent & the Grenadines a position of ‘no victimisation’ towards the players (especially captain Dwayne Bravo and team-mate Kieron Pollard) believed to be the ring-leaders of the West Indies ODI team’s withdrawal of labour from the tour of India in October last year.

This agreement was apparently overturned  when both players were omitted by the WI selectors from WIndies’ squad for the 2015 World Cup in Australasia, ostensibly for reasons of poor form – although this reasoning did not really bear close scrutiny.

Understandably, both Prime Ministers were angered at this about-turn-of events. I would not have been surprised therefore if there lingered within them some grounds for animosity towards Dave Cameron and the Board.

Dr Webster has refuted this, and indicated they are bigger and better than that, and do not fall easy prey to the sort of petty squabbles and vindictiveness which might beset lesser men. I am happy to be put right by Rudi.

You can read our correspondence below: 

Hi David:

The Caricom Review panel was chosen by both the WICB and Caricom. The Board nominated the president of the CCJ, the president of the Caribbean development bank and Dwain Gill who is a member of WICB. The PMs agreed to those three recommendations. The Board at first objected to the Deryck Murray recommendation and eventually agreed but one got the impression that they did not want a legend on the committee. The Chairperson is one of the most impressive people I have ever met. In other words the politicians bent over backward to accommodate the Board and as far as I can see there were no political motives involved in that selection. The resentment that you referred to did not enter PM Mitchell’s thinking or actions. I can vouch for that. he is not that petty.

Let me repeat. The committee was an independent committee of eminent West Indians, most of whom were proposed by WICB!

As in any change process, most of the pundits and analysts are imagining the worst possible scenarios and are wearing special NEGATIVE lenses in their glasses. This is a natural operation of the brain in crisis situations. In medicine we see this in patients who have to have a major procedure. The doctor’s job is then to show them a different future and get them to believe in a positive outcome. If the doctors succeed in doing this, that is 60% of the success already achieved.

Below is a link to the press conference in Grenada:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGmdrsutOK0

IMMEDIATE DISSOLUTION: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODnwcG6gWyg&feature=youtu.be

AND WHAT’S NEXT: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_9o_58x7jQ

Regards

Rudi

I replied:

Hi Rudi

Very many thanks for your clarification and I wholeheartedly accept the sincerity of the panel members, and the process. I am possibly a little too cynical in this regard, and am pleased that the members are people of integrity able to rise above the all-too-often petty jealousies witnessed in the Caribbean. I’m not so certain that this is true of some members of the WICB.

Is your response something I am permitted to publish on my blog for the sake of balance? No problems of course if you’d prefer our correspondence to remain private.

Very best wishes

David

Hi David:

If you think it will change any minds, please use it. You might also consider using the article – Lessons from DeKlerk.

Rudi

WICB: TAKE A LESSON FROM DeKLERK’S AND MANDELA’S PLAYBOOK

At the April meeting in Grenada between the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and Caricom’s Cricket Governance Subcommittee both parties willingly agreed to the establishment of an independent committee of eminent West Indians to examine the administrative and governance structure of the WICB. After long discussions and some touchy and contentious exchanges the WICB eventually agreed that it would accept and implement the recommendations of that committee. WICB and Caricom’s Cricket Subcommittee jointly selected the independent committee.

After three months of interviews, consultation and deliberation, the five-person Committee submitted its report in which it stated that the standards of corporate, collective accountability demand the immediate resignation of the entire management of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), the dissolution of the current Board structure, the appointment of an interim Board, and the adoption of a new governance framework.

This must have been quite a shock to the Board. Looking at its recent record, one wonders if it will in fact honour its commitment. One gets the impression that Cameron and some of the members of the Board will renege and fight to the bitter end to keep the Board intact in order to preserve their power and status. The words of Cameron in an internet post some time ago in response to widespread public criticism are not those of someone who is prepared to compromise or give up power easily. He said: “They’ve criticized you. They’ve doubted you. They’ve lied on you. They’ve done all they can do, but one thing they can’t do is stop you.”

The Board seems to thrive on crisis and destructive conflict. After all, most of its disasters are self-inflicted. Its current problem with the BCCI is an example of this. It has been in perpetual warfare with its players, the West Indies Players Association (WIPA), the president of WIPA, and even its head coaches. Let’s hope that the Board is not preparing for warfare with regional prime ministers who are the elected representatives of the Caribbean people. Such an approach could and probably would be disastrous.

In a recent article in Cricinfo Tony Cozier asked the question: “Will Cameron give up power for the sake of reform?” This is a serious question that Cameron should constantly ask himself, and think through very carefully.

During the apartheid transitional period, Prime Minister Sandiford and I went to South Africa as guests of President DeKlerk, the leader of South Africa’s apartheid government. The day after Prime Minister Sandiford left South Africa, President DeKlerk invited me to his office in Pretoria. We spoke for about thirty minutes after which he took me into the Cabinet room and said to me, “This is where apartheid was born and this is where it will die.” I told him that although a large proportion of the white population did not agree with what he was doing, his decision to give up his power for the peaceful reform and transformation of his country was a sign of great leadership. He admitted that the alternative, bloodshed and possible civil war was too painful and horrifying to contemplate.

Soon afterwards, Nelson Mandela took over the leadership of the country and a new South Africa was born. Without Deklerk’s co-operation this smooth transition would not have been possible. Mandela’s job would have been much more difficult. Later on, they were both awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their commonsense, wisdom, co-operation, actions and common purpose.

The meaning of any situation depends on the way you look at it. When you change your perspective of a situation you automatically change its meaning and with that, your thoughts, decisions and actions. Cameron and his directors should take a leaf out of President Deklerk’s playbook. They should as a matter of urgency change the way they look at the current crisis and its possible outcomes. It would then be easier for them to change their thinking and attitude and give up their power and position for peaceful reform and the common good of West Indies cricket.

This unselfish action would not win them a Nobel Peace Prize but history would view them kindly and portray them as the saviours and redeemers of West Indies cricket, not the destroyers.

Let’s hope that the WICB agrees to the holding of the urgent meeting that the prime ministers have requested. Let’s pray that commonsense and wisdom prevail. Let us also remind the WICB that the true measure of wisdom is the ability to see and understand things from many different perspectives as well as the capacity to respond sensibly and appropriately.

Rudi V. Webster

Dr Rudi Webster is a world renowned sports psychologist who has worked closely with, among others, the West Indies, India and the Kolkata Knight Riders. Born in Barbados, he played first-class cricket in England, Scotland, Wales and New Zealand. A quick bowler, he was a member of Warwickshire’s Gillette Cup winning side at Lord’s in 1966, taking the wicket of England’s Don Kenyon. That season he also recorded his best figures of 8-19. Dr Webster is the author of the acclaimed book ‘Think Like a Champion’.

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2 thoughts on “Dr Rudi Webster responds to our podcast on the Caricom Review Panel’s Caribbean Cricket Governance Report

  1. Ray Roberts

    Dr Webster, I have the greatest respect for, indeed brilliant and smart thinker; however, I am positive that he has misread the quality of the cricket pitch he is bowling on – perhaps like the South African batsmen currently playing in India.
    Caribbean politics is all about patronage, SURELY NOT genuine passion for good governance – and there could be no rationale judgment to empower our political leaders to have the power to replace the current directors with an Interim Committee.
    The CARICOM Committee recommendation to replace the directors introduce chaos and confusion.
    What is the criteria for electing the Interim directors? Will the genuine Dr. Mitchell and his OECS colleagues at their Heads of Government have the power to appoint two and the likes of Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago one each?
    As much as I desire a reshaping of the West Indies Board, we ought not to remove the governance of the game from the territorial boards and the West Indies Board. Through the machinery of these organisations the ordinary people have the opportunity to make democratic choices.
    In conclusion, there are lots of room for the University graduates in the various islands – encourage them to join and strengthen community base clubs and provide fresh and dynamic leadership – and through that bottom up approach they must come through the system, could qualify to earn the rights to be elected directors.
    Dr. Webster could take the lead in Grenada providing leadership to the many secondary schools games department and I am sure the future will record his brilliance in this new period of rebuilding.
    Any backdoor entry by our politicians is a disaster .

    Reply
  2. David Oram Post author

    Ray, I think you raise some really sensible points. I’m sure we all agree change is necessary, but some of us are reluctant to see the scythe swung in haste! I think the Panel’s demand at ‘immediacy’ and en masse resignations is unnecessary, and may prove counter-productive in persuading the WICB that reform MUST take place. And political interference is NOT an option.

    Reply

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