Regional leaders will receive a report on West Indies cricket in June

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders will receive a report on the future development of West Indies cricket when they meet in Grenada in June, Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley announced on Friday.

Rowley, speaking at a news conference at the end of a two-day CARICOM Regional Cricket Conference on reinvigorating West Indies Cricket, told reporters it was important for West Indies, a symbol of regional unity, to be brought back to the prominence it once held for the people of the Caribbean.

“We know that we like the game and that it means a lot to us. What we can’t understand is why we are not doing better. Now and then, we get a flicker, but the flicker doesn’t blaze into a sustained flame,” Rowley said.

He said that CARICOM leaders have been “feeling this pressure of wanting to do something about this super delayed initiative, and we’ve concluded that we must confront the elephant in the room.

“And I think that’s what this conference was meant to do: bring all the stakeholders together so that their facets and vantage points could be expressed to everybody else. So I think today, after what happened yesterday and today, all stakeholders will know what other people are thinking, what recommendations are coming from what other quarters, how secure or useful, and how facilitatory your area is,” he added.

Rowley said that the common thread that pulls it down “is that no one facet, no one aspect of this legacy can save itself.

“We need to take secure, cooperative action to bring about the necessary change. Much of the conversation in the last 48 hours has been about a governance structure, which does not appear to be the best for the delivery we anticipate.”

Rowley said he expects the response to that in some quarters will be, “Well, change it elsewhere, but don’t change it by me. Have someone else do it, but I won’t be doing it.

“That is not going to get us anywhere. So I want to say to the media that you will ask what will happen after today. We will collate all the ideas and recommendations that came up here. And the CARICOM subcommittee will meet—we’re meeting in Grenada in June.

“We are almost into May, so it will be next month. So, the next meeting of CARICOM in Grenada will receive a comprehensive report on the state of West Indies cricket with recommendations,” Rowley said.

“We will work together to produce the outcome of this gathering for the heads of government meeting in June and collate the recommendations. Then, we will seek to have a whole program in conjunction with critical thinking to develop a smaller group of recommendations and can-do …meetings,” Rowley added.

Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley told the news conference that her intention for attending the two-day meeting here was “to give people the opportunity to speak, to share, and to see where we can find common purpose, and to see where we can build trust.”

She told reporters she is comforted that the regional symposium has resulted in “not just the will to do it, but …to find the surrounding framework that allows us to see progress.”

She said she believes the Wehby Report of 2020 that outlined several recommendations regarding Cricket West Indies (CWI) should have been acted upon, noting “by any stretch of the imagination, for a company not to have worked on a report, for a government not to have acted on a report that came in four years ago, even if it is to reject everything, we need to put it to bed one way or the other, whether it is to act at all to modify it or to deny it.

“I believe there is merit in a lot of it, and the precepts it honors are sacred to all forms of governance. We, therefore, should not find ourselves trapped in a 20th-century model, at a time when the whole structure of the game and the computing forces have changed, from traditional test circuits to being able to manage…” Mottley said.

She said while this issue is about cricket, fundamentally, this is about national and regional development.

“This is about the development of our people at the very time when our young people are being threatened with all other kinds of distractions, some wholesome, some not wholesome. “Therefore, we need to put the structures and the investment in place urgently. You cannot cross a chasm in small steps; therefore, we need that sense of urgency.

“Why? Because, in any event, what we put in needs time to sprout what comes out. And therefore, I hope that from the development end of it, we can settle on that before the end of the year.

“The recommendations will come ahead. But the West Indies and the territorial boards can start a conversation so that by the time we reach heads, there is clarity as to what they are united upon and still divided upon concerning the governance aspect.

Mottley said that while governments have the power of legislation, “we have the power of development support for infrastructure and programs, and we can mentor but also to facilitate and bring people together, particularly where there are difficulties and obstacles.”

She told reporters that she knows defeat and victory, “and victory, by the way, is sweeter, but the reality is, victory breeds an environment where people want to come and join.”

She said cricket is a global sport that has allowed Caribbean people to be known internationally, adding, “How many Caribbean footballers do you know globally? How many Caribbean basketballers do you know globally? How many Caribbean volleyballers do you know globally?

“And unlike the last couple of generations, this current generation gets paid significantly better in cricket because of the advances of television and gaming and all of those things than their previous generations.”

CWI president Dr Kishore Shallow said he was pleased with the interest shown by regional leaders in West Indies cricket’s future development, saying, “To have regional leaders taking the time to come to a symposium, one, to initiate a seminar, and then to find the time dedicated to discussing issues, that in itself is a testament of how critical West Indies cricket means to them.

“As President of Cricket West Indies, I feel privileged to have regional leaders so committed to improving West Indies cricket. Suddenly, there’s no option but to optimize the support I’ve received, which I’m sure I will continue to receive from the Prime Ministers.

“There are tremendous opportunities for us to improve, and this is not five or ten years down the line. I believe that we can improve West Indies cricket instantly by adopting some of the solutions offered to us over the last day and a half,” Shallow told reporters.

While governance is a sensitive issue, he believes “we can advance this as swiftly as possible.

“It is urgent, and I am hoping that within six months, six weeks between now and the World Cup, at least the end of the World Cup, … the president of the territorial boards could be engaged in how we could swiftly adopt these recommendations by the Wehby Report.”

Shallow acknowledged that the CWI has received several other reports over the years, “but the great thing about the Wehby Report is that it has revealed those reports and suggested to us recently what is most relevant.

“And if the time is now, and again because I am pretty aware of the genuine support from the current leaders, then I have no doubt we will get that over the line.

“Also, there are other opportunities because while we fix the governance, as I alluded to earlier, there are other areas for improvement that we cannot delay any further,” he said, noting that the CWI’s financial situation has fluctuated over time.

“And so, we have to ensure we put a mechanism in place where we are financially sustainable. And the great thing about it is that I am quite confident that this could be done within,” Shallow said, adding, “The cricket West Indies has to commit and identify those ways of being self-sustainable.”

He said there are opportunities, and establishing a commercial arm is one of them: “a company that would give us value for our money and ensure that the return on such investment is excellent and would benefit cricket going forward.

“So we’ll embark on or accelerate on establishing that commercial arm. We have thought about the need to engage and involve our legends. They are aging, so we cannot afford to miss the opportunity.”

Shallow also said that the club structure needs strengthening, adding, “We have to find ways of incentivizing people for world-class cricket.

He said he had discussions with Prime Minister Mottley and the idea of having an original club championship, saying, “I think that is viable, and the intention is to establish a task group immediately to explore how Cricket West Indies could support a club championship, determine the format and all of that.

“And so, from where I sit at Cricket West Indies, this (symposium) was an opportunity truly relished,” he said, adding, “It’s been a revealing type of event, and I want also to establish clearly that some important baselines were committed to.”

664Connect Media
Follow us @664connectmedia on socials; email or call / WhatsApp 1-664-392-1664.