COLUMN-Getting Cameron to do right
By a letter dated October 31, 2014, the Board of Control For Cricket In India (BCCI) wrote to the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) as follows:
Dear Mr Cameron,
The WICB gave the BCCI a binding commitment that it will field its team in India for a total of nine matches . . . .
On the eve of the first ODI in Kochi on October 8, 2014, you intimated [to] the BCCI that, on account of some disputes between you and your players, the WICB was considering pulling out of the tour. On account of the timely intervention of the Honourable Secretary, BCCI, who spoke to your players, a crisis was averted. However, the threat of cancellation of the tour continued to be raised . . . .
Finally, after the fourth ODI at Dharamshala on October 17, 2014, you pulled out your team and communicated your decision to cancel the remainder of the tour.
The WICB is more than aware of the economics of the sport of cricket . . . . The adverse financial ramifications and the negative impact of your action to unilaterally cancel the remainder [of] the tour was well within your understanding, yet you still went ahead and cancelled the tour [with] complete disregard [for] your legal commitments . . . .
The consequences of cancellation of a committed home tour during the biggest festival season, Diwali, in India is a monumental disaster for the BCCI . . . . In plain economic terms, the BCCI can tentatively quantify its losses as . . . US$41.97 million.
The BCCI calls upon the WICB to formally inform the BCCI, in writing, of the steps it intends to take to compensate the BCCCI towards the losses quantified above, as well as those losses yet to be quantified . . . .
Pending resolutions of all disputes, the BCCI suspends all bilateral cricketing relations with the WICB.
The president of the WICB –– Mr Whycliffe “Dave” Cameron –– received this chilling letter against the background of an earlier warning delivered to the WICB by its accountants –– KPMG –– that the WICB was already in such severe debt, that there was “substantial doubt that the company [the WICB] will be able to continue as a going concern”.
Mr Cameron also received this letter in the full knowledge that he himself had contributed significantly to the escalation of the crisis that is now threatening to engulf and destroy West Indies cricket, by his prideful, obstinate and arrogant refusal to communicate any willingness on his part to compromise with the disaffected West Indian cricketers.
(Yes, some blame can be attached to the players, but clearly the bulk of the blame has to be laid at the feet of Mr Cameron and his fellow administrators, for, as leaders of the WICB, the proverbial buck stops with them.)
And so, what was Mr Whycliffe “Dave” Cameron’s response to this situation of grave existential crisis facing the historic organization and the critical Caribbean cultural institution that he has been entrusted with the sacred duty to lead, guide and protect?
Well, according to The Nation of Tuesday, November 4, one of Mr Cameron’s responses was to avail himself of his Internet Twitter account, and to tweet the following message to the world at large –– and, no doubt, to the officials of the Indian Cricket Board: “They’ve criticized you. They’ve doubted you. They’ve lied on you. They’ve done all they can do, but one thing they can’t do is stop you.”
Really, Mr Cameron? Is that the appropriate response to the life and death situation facing the WICB and West Indies cricket? Even when faced with such a monumental threat to the institutions which have been entrusted to your care, you still can’t see beyond your own personal interests, your own pride, your own sense of grievance?
Even now, as we totter on the precipice, is it still all about you?
As far as I am concerned, the honourable and responsible thing for Mr Cameron to do –– in his capacity as president and leader of the WICB –– is to publicly accept a considerable measure of responsibility for the fiasco that has taken place; to publicly apologize to the BCCI; and to resign from office, thereby clearing the path for a new and reconstituted WICB leadership to engage with the BCCI in an effort to negotiate away the financial death sentence that is currently hanging over the head of
West Indies cricket.
But, I can assure you that this will never happen! And the reason it will not happen is not because of any special peculiarity of Mr Cameron’s character of personality! Rather, it will not happen because the members of the Caribbean social class that Mr Cameron belongs to simply do not behave in that manner!
The sad reality throughout our Caribbean is that a new bourgeois class has taken over the key leadership positions in governments, in the professions, and in important areas of national and regional life such as cricket administration. And it is such a self-absorbed class that its members find it extremely difficult to accept personal responsibility for anything, or to recognize that there are causes or institutions whose interests take precedence over their own personal individual interests.
These social elements have capitalized on the relative apathy and marginalization of the working class, and have constituted themselves into an entrenched elite or in-group, equipped with their own narrow group interests, and with a narrow, self-serving value system. Furthermore, many, if not most, members of this “class” have convinced themselves that they are entitled as of right to positions of privilege, wealth and comfort in our societies.
This, in turn, is manifested in their unceasing jockeying for and pursuit of positions of status –– privileged “jobs” –– in national and regional political and administrative structures, not least of which is the leadership and administrative structure of the WICB.
Many, if not most, of them are contemptuous of the working class base from which they have sprung. As a result, they possess no substantial roots in our region’s history of race and class struggle, and are therefore incapable of truly appreciating the value of the fruits of such struggles –– whether such “fruits” are the sacred cultural institution of West Indies cricket or the famous Barbadian system of free secondary and tertiary education!
The same social element that is incapable of perceiving that the interests of the people’s institution of West Indies cricket dwarf their own personal interests is the same social element that –– in national governments throughout our region –– is incapable of recognizing and defending the precious social-democratic gains that generations of Caribbean sufferers struggled so hard to achieve.
We, the masses of Caribbean people –– the so-called ordinary citizens of the Caribbean –– therefore cannot simply sit back and expect these supposed leaders to act and selflessly. They, at the very least, have to be pushed, and we have to be the ones pushing them –– howling and screaming –– in the direction of duty and responsibility.
Some form of determined mass activism has to emerge from the base of our Caribbean societies. If we want to preserve the WICB, West Indies cricket, “free” education, public health care, welfare provisions, trade union power, worker rights, national sovereignty –– and the list goes on –– the people at the base of our societies and their institutions will have to bestir themselves and unite around a concrete people’s agenda.
West Indies cricket is as good a place as any to start. I therefore say: let there be such a loud and determined expression of outrage by the legions of ordinary cricket fans of the Caribbean, that Mr Whycliffe “Dave” Cameron is forced –– howling and screaming –– to do the right thing!
(David Comissiong, an attorney-at-law, is president of the Clement Payne Movement and coordinator of the University Of Independence Square.)