The ‘Sacking’ Board

IS there anyone anywhere who can reason with the West Indies Cricket Board to turn it from its present course?

The WICB under Dave Cameron appears to be continuing along a path that will certainly retard the growth of West Indies cricket, and possibly destroy it, unless it is stopped in time. At the moment, the Board remains in authoritarian mode using its proverbial big stick to lash out at all who dare challenge or criticize its rule. It is on a dangerous path and seems totally oblivious to the consequences.

The WICB’s latest atrocity was this week’s sacking of coach Phil Simmons just on the eve of the West Indies team’s departure to engage Pakistan. We would hate to believe that the Board had an ulterior motive for taking such a decision at this specific time. In so doing, it seemed to care little about the possible impact of its action on the team, a team we might add that is being led by a first-timer. The WICB action follows a pattern that has been all too glaring in recent times which would lead any right thinking person to the conclusion that once one crosses or criticizes this Board they should prepare themselves for summary execution.

To say that a coach is fired because of a “difference in culture and strategic approach” is to admit that there is no room for discussion or compromise as far as this Board is concerned. There is no room for alternative thinking…no room for even holding an opinion. That is simply a dangerous mindset.

So in the space of two years, this Board has sacked two coaches—Otis Gibson and Simmons. It has sacked T20 captain Daren Sammy who has twice led the regional team and its fans to the only glory they have had for some time. It has sacked the highly respected former captain Clive Lloyd who was Chairman of the selectors and the most successful West Indies captain of all time. It has sacked bowling consultant Curtly Ambrose, one of the best fast bowlers in the world ever. Then in between all this, we have the debacle of the aborted last West Indies tour to India that has left such a bad taste in so many mouths, that it is better not being mentioned. It is not being unfair to suggest that at some point, the Board might have as well considered the sacking of the entire team of players who were involved in that incident.

The point is we are shooting ourselves in the foot because of the warped policies of this Board. Even before Cameron came to power, there had been calls for reform and restructuring of the WICB to rescue the game in the region. Noticeably, the power of the Board has become an issue, moreso under Cameron, a position that is now being vindicated by the experiences of the recent past.

Over the past few weeks, this Board has endured scathing criticism from two Prime Ministers, Mitchell of Grenada and Gonzalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines. Former West Indies cricketers, the media and ordinary people of the Caribbean have chipped in to let the Board know that they are not happy with the way it is running West Indies cricket. Players on current West Indies teams have also added their voices to the hail of criticism of the Board and former members of the Board have pleaded with regional governments to deny it use of their grounds for matches, in protest. But it has all been in vain. The Board continues to strut the stage in manner akin to a dictatorship.

The fact that Simmons was fired even after being forced by the Board to make a public apology for his criticisms about people influencing team selection reeks of vendetta and the need to make any critic pay. Sammy suffered similarly, axed from the team after an outstanding season in the CPL this year, even while the WICB continues to maintain that players are being picked on performance. He had to be dealt with for his criticism of the Board during the India affair.

The interesting thing is that there is enough evidence, left by this Board especially, to justify the continued calls for its reform and restructuring. No Board or group of persons leading any organization should be allowed to run riot over the majority that way. It is undemocratic and against the way of life we in this region have always been accustomed to.

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