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Is this Simmons’ greatest contribution to WI cricket?

Monday, October 5, 2015

If Phil Simmons is correct in his estimation that there was “outside influence” in the non-selection of Dwayne Bravo and Keiron Pollard for the tour of Sri Lanka, then he has brought to public attention the much-lacking transparency and honesty in the organisation and management of West Indies cricket. 

If so, then West Indian society must not allow Simmons to pay the price for our enlightenment.

Perhaps in the long-run, this whistle blowing act of the former hard-hitting allrounder could be the impetus upon which the re-formulation of West Indies cricket could be based. 

We must put into perspective what Simmons has done. All over the world in government, in sports (check Fifa) at the corporate level and in all forms of institutional activity and engagement the desire is for greater transparency and high-quality governance. 

The financial crash in the USA and Europe had a large measure of deceit, deception and lack of transparency behind it. The sudden death of many of the largest financial agencies in the world continues to inflict brutal financial blows on whole economies and individuals. If only there was a whistle-blower willing to tell the world of the double dealings, greed and incompetence of corporate financial executives much of what has happened (2008-2015) would have been avoided. 

How then could it be that Simmons could have been wrong for blowing the whistle on conniving and deceit between the West Indies Cricket Board led by president Dave Cameron and three supposedly responsible former players, one of them a distinguished product of West Indian cricket civilisation?

Moreover, the act of deceit is compounded by the fact that Cameron has said (vowed almost) on several occasions that he and the board have nothing to do with team selection and usually follow the advice of the selectors. Question is why break that solemn avowal on non-interference?

Clive Lloyd, one of the greatest figures in the 80-year history of West Indian cricket, in criticising Simmons’ method of going public, said to the effect that this could have been handled in another way. Which way Mr Lloyd? How would it have helped to cover-up serious wrong-doing by the board?

Would it have been by talking about this matter of interference behind closed doors, over a drink with the President? How and to what end would honesty and transparency have been achieved? What is the record of achievement of keeping quiet about such matters?

What is so wrong with the coach reporting to the West Indian people, the owners of West Indian cricket, on this betrayal of the trust given to Cameron and the board? The reality is that maintaining the status quo through silence will not advance the resurgence and development of West Indian cricket.

However, if for the sake of argument we want to say that Simmons must pay for going against protocol and bringing damage to West Indies cricket, there must be fairness and equity in meting out punishment to those who offend against West Indian cricket. 

Let us examine the record. No one, and no group of people, administrators, players, the West Indian public, has committed a more potentially fatal attack on our cricket than Dave Cameron and his board. They collectively have put West Indian cricket in debt to the value of US$42 million.

It is Cameron and his board who sent a West Indian team on tour to India in October last without agreed-to contracts with the players and the players association (WIPA). In any other organisation, commercial and otherwise, such a CEO/President would have been fired on the spot and or made to pay out of his own pocket the indebted sum. 

Instead, Cameron and his board were free to manipulate the recent elections to the WI board to have them returned to office by the majority of national boards around the region. And that has been done without Cameron and his board coming up with one solid proposal as to how the board is to repay the debt to the BCCI. Instead, West Indian civilisation is made to take on the role of mendicants begging please for debt forgiveness. Where is the equity of achievement here?

Where is the equity of treatment of the board having removed three of the most significant commentators on West Indian cricket, Tony Cozier, Reds Pereira and Michael Holding, from representing the West Indian perspective on live broadcasts of our cricket?

Undoubtedly, the non-selection of Bravo and Pollard by the WICB “big papies” is direct revenge against the players for showing the incompetence and ill-will of Cameron and his board. First, the non-selection of the Bravo and those seen as the ring leaders for the World Cup, the removal of Bravo as captain, the removal of Denesh Ramdin as captain of the Test team and now the dropping of the two allrounders.

How do we stack-up the positive contributions of the Cameron board at the international level against its negatives? What are these positive contributions? Former President of the WICB, Pat Rousseau wrote in some detail about the spineless capitulation of Cameron and the WICB to the objective of the International Cricket Conference to having England, Australia and India as the imperial rulers of world cricket, almost into perpetuity.

This could be Phil Simmons’ greatest contribution to West Indian cricket. West Indians and West Indian institutions must arise or be rolled over by this crew.


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