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Time for cricket change

St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves delivering the Sir Frank Worrel Memorial lecture.

by Shawn Cumberbatch

West Indies cricket is preparing to take fresh guard and Barbados will be expected to play a major role in the effort.

But St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves last night called suggestions for Barbados and other regional governments to take over the management of cricket “pure rubbish”.

Delivering the 17th Frank Worrell Memorial Lecture at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination, the regional leader said following a disclosure from West Indies Cricket Board President Julian Hunte that a new WICB strategic plan had been completed, the Prime Ministerial Sub Committee On Cricket would begin discussions on the same with a view to establishing a new consultative body to work alongside the WICB.

He said stakeholders, ranging from governments, cricket legends, to non governmental organisations and ordinary members of the public, would be involved in the effort.

“There’s the PJ Patterson Report on Governance we have to get the governance issues correct, but PJ Patterson’s report is not the be-all and end-all on the governance issue, it’s a starting point,” he said.

“And we need to make sure that there is a consultative body including representatives of governments, other non stage actors, legends, other persons in the community, as an advisory board, as a consultative board, but this idea of West Indian governments taking over cricket is pure rubbish.

“We run a lot of things and we run many of them very badly: why would we want to run cricket? Why is it that I am hearing the argument, entirely fallacious, that because we have built stadia with millions and millions of dollars that we must run it. Okay, so we build a lot of multi million dollar ports, we must run all the ships? We build millions of dollars in roads, must we run all of the minibuses, I mean it’s entirely fallacious.”

Gonsalves also said the time had come for traditional regional cricketing nations, specifically Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Guyana to stop believing they had a monopoly on how the game was managed.

“And this unseemly argument about who is getting which game at which ground. Look, you have ten grounds of top quality now in the region. Given the fact that the test matches and the one day internationals which come they are few there are some grounds which will get this year and not next year because there are ten grounds, there are no longer four as life use to be in the old days,” he told an audience including two former WICB presidents.

“The West Indies is bigger than Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and Barbados, with great respect to all four of these very important countries.”

“Similarly I hear the talk about over time these things happen ‘we will go on our own’… It’s unsustainable, go on your own and do what? Who is going to watch you? Who is going to pay an interest in you? But you get these kinds of discussions and this is why I am saying what we need is a compelling narrative about how we are going to change it and put the governance structures in place.”

The prime minister also defended the leadership of regional cricket against attacks from individuals, including those who would have been in charge of cricket before.

“And many of those who are making the criticisms they do not have a compelling narrative, they do not have a philosophy and a programme, and we in the Caribbean are accustomed to these mirages, where those who are out just shout and say ‘I don’t like the fellow who is in’, criticise him and have no programme,” he said.

“Well we have gone that road many, many times over and over and we end in failure. If you want to challenge the incumbents you have to have a compelling narrative, what are you going to change, how are you going to change it.”

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