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WICB, players, WIPA must develop culture of excellence

Published: 
Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The most significant challenge to the survival and growth of West Indies cricket after this most shameful interlude is the creation of a sub-culture of excellence into which players, the West Indies Cricket Board, the WI Players Association and the West Indian society must grow and develop. My assumption here is that the sordid financial dispute will be quickly settled now that the three groups have caught a glimpse of the precipice upon which they have placed the future of West Indies cricket.

The representative Caricom prime ministers who have got involved in the settlement of the internal row should now persuade their colleague governments to assist with raising the US$47 million, or whatever the figure of the Indian board turns out to be.
The sub-culture of which I speak is akin to that created by the Packer intervention and the 15 years of West Indian dominance instigated and managed first by Clive Lloyd and Dr Rudi Webster and carried on by Viv Richards.

But this second creation of the culture of excellence must now include the WICB, all of the territorial boards and the Players Association, because last time, the board/s stood on the sidelines and did nothing to support and enhance the infrastructure to maintain the excellence that was dominating world cricket.  

Why the need for this sub-culture of excellence? The unconsciousness and narrow contemplation of the West Indian team, the board and WIPA displayed in the aborting of the Indian tour are woven into the West Indian society of the day. This is the age of the individual over the team; the community and what is in the best interest of the collective good of the West Indian nation are of little significance in the social, economic and political superstructure upon which WI cricket on and off the field now sits. 

Indeed so narrow is the contemplation that the players, the WICB and the WIPA could not even understand that their refusal to finish the tour had dire consequences for all and conflicted with their own agenda for self-financial accumulation, aggrandisement and the exercise of raw power.

The players, administrators and trade union representatives did not understand that their actions could place West Indian cricket up against a claim of US$47 million or more for the financial loss of the Indian cricket board, and to appease the embarrassment and anger over the abrupt ending of the tour.

The above is not surprising, as the players, board and WIPA are creatures of the times. The players are effectively trapped within a paradigm not entirely of their making but which they compelled to follow: nothing else matters once their wants are satisfied and if achieving those wants requires putting in danger a tradition of 85-years plus then so be it; that is indeed assuming that the groups understand what is the WI cricket tradition.

Similarly, but with variations regarding their roles, the administrators of the WICB are creatures of the political culture of the West Indies. Self-aggrandisement, a focus on narrow group interest, a variety of behaviours characterised by deception, arrogance, corruption, administrative incompetence, the inability to act creatively and with dynamism and the lacking in humility to interact with others to find solutions are a few of the traits so well displayed by the WICB over many years and in this instance.

So disposed, the WICB president and his board opted for the bureaucratic high ground and studied aloofness instead of dialogue with the players; the board was even ready and foolish enough to suggest to the BCCI that a second-string team could replace Bravo and company. Translated, that means the board considers the players incidental instead of being central to WI cricket: as they give trouble, they are replaced.

How is that different from the Stollmeyer era, when the board refused the overtures of Lloyd and company for reasonableness and a way forward as Packer’s brand of professionalism began to take root? If Michael Holding, in his assessment, is fast and direct as he used to be in his playing days, when he charges the board for surreptitiously seeking to take back benefits previously agreed upon, then that kind of deception fits the profile of political administration in the Caribbean.

Compromise with power and the ever-present willingness of those vaulted to the top to look after the interest of workers featured in WIPA’s action to agree with the dramatic non-salary bonus cuts and most importantly, without consultation with the players. Unable to respond meaningfully to the contentions of the players the WIPA president then began to malign members of the association “who not paying dues” and on and on.

Isn’t that the modus operandi of governments when they malign workers seeking to protect their benefits? One good place to start in the creation of the sub-culture is with the PJ Patterson report gathering dust on the shelf.

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