Cricket is a potential creative industry the Caribbean can export.
The possibility was thrown out by former prime minister of Jamaica, Percival Patterson, as he delivered the 18th Frank Worrell Memorial Lecture at the Errol Barrow Centre For Creative Imagination at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies last night.
Reminding the large audience that no nation in the region could escape the problems and challenges that had arisen from the financial meltdown and the decline of our traditional industries, the former leader said: “We in the region have suffered sharp declines in the export of our primary commodities. Most of our industries are threatened by the economies of scale.
“We therefore have to look for development which is based largely on the provision of services and the development of human capital. We must focus primarily on those areas likely to yield increasing opportunities, a new production, creating jobs and earning more foreign exchange.”
He recalled that in 2007 he was appointed by the board to chair a committee to review the performance of the WICB and assess its strenghts and weaknesses.
“The committee was expected to make recommendations for the overall operations, performance and strengthen its credibility and public support . . . .
“It is this senario: I envisage the urgency of regarding cricket in the Caribbean as more than a sport or a pastime. It is, as we have been reminded, a central aspect of our cultural identity and heritage which must be exploited to create jobs and earn foreign exchange, as we seek to diversify our economies and capitalize on those areas where we can enjoy a competitive edge. Our report identified cricket as belonging to the group of creative industries, which according to UNCTAD statistics enjoyed an annual growth rate of 14 per cent and by 2010 had a market value of US$ 600 billion,” Patterson added.
He noted that the game of cricket was now being played in Israel, Italy and Switzland, and disclosed that the International Cricket Council had delegated the WICB to spread the game in the Americas. Patterson suggested that with our rich heritage in cricket having produced the 3Ws, Sir Garfield Sobers, Vivian Richards, Wes Hall and Charlie Griffith, the region could sponsor major games in the new stadiums and earn foreign exchange.
Paying tribute to Sir Frank, Patterson noted that the players were the most valuable resource in the game, and that the former West Indies legend should be remembered as one who “helped dismantle the inequitable and discriminatory social order” of the day in the region.
He also credited him with striking the first blow for professional cricketers in the Caribbean when he insisted on his entitlement to earn a resonable livelihood in return for his innate gifts and superb talents as a cricketer.
“Frank Worrell is to be remembered as one who helped dismantle the inequitable and discriminatory social order, while at the same time opening wide the door of income opportunity for West Indian players of the game. The West Indian Players Association should make Worrell their patron saint.
“Since the formation of WIPA in 1974, successive West Indian players particularly at the Test Match level have been financial beneficiaries of new contracts. But we have to remember that the players are the most valuable resource of West Indies cricket and the use of the big stick either by the West Indies Cricket Board or WIPA is deleterious to West Indies cricket.
“We, who constituted the Governance Committee on West Indies Cricket, expressed the view that a change of culture is required and we have noticed recently indications of an encouraging move towards that end,” he added. (NC)