Garner wants cricket to come first
As a fearsome fast bowler, Joel “Big Bird” Garner led the West Indies to many victories.
Now he’s hoping to lead the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) to a different sort of success.
Having thrown his hat into the ring to challenge Jamaican Dave Cameron for the presidency of the WICB at next month’s Annual General Meeting, Garner believes he is the right man for the job.
In an exclusive interview with Barbados TODAY this afternoon, his first since reports surfaced last week that he would be running for the post, the 62- year-old cricket legend said if elected, one of his biggest objectives would be to shift the WICB’s focus to cricket development and performance.
Garner, who is the president of the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA), insisted there needed to be dramatic change in the way the WICB handles the region’s cricket affairs.
“The core business of the WICB should be cricket. Two of the issues which I think have been neglected by the WICB are that of cricket development and performance. In recent times I think we have been focusing too much on finances,” the veteran of 58 Tests and 98 One-Day Internationals explained.
“It is a serious problem which needs to be addressed, along with that of governance. Over the years, West Indies cricket has been embroiled in disputes with players, and more recently the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
“I think there is a need to look at reforming the WICB and making it more presentable,” he added.
Garner, who lost out to St Lucian Emmanuel Nanthan for the post of vice-president in the 2013 elections, argued that it couldn’t continue to be business as usual at the region’s governing body for cricket.
“There needs to be a different approach to business at the WICB. I think that we need to look at cricket in the Caribbean in a holistic way…and that is from the bottom up instead of from the top down,” he noted.
“Finances is a critical part of any organization, but we also have to take administration very seriously…and I honestly don’t think that we do enough of that.”
The head of the BCA since 2007, Garner knows that if he is elected president of the WICB, it will not be an easy task by any means.
And one of the biggest challenges he knows he will face is finding a resolution to the Indian debacle, which has left the WICB facing a BDS$82 million lawsuit from the BCCI.
However, using the relationships which he has developed throughout his 10-year career as a player, Garner believes he has the tools to find a solution.
“There is no quick fix or easy fix to the situation to be honest, but I believe that I can call on some of my Indian counterparts to help smooth out the issue and get rid of some of the challenges.
“It will however require face-to-face meetings and serious discussions. We are waiting for an election which is not the ideal situation, but we have to sit down, discuss the issue and find a satisfactory result for both parties,” Garner pointed out.
With just over three weeks to go before the March 7 elections in Jamaica, he believes his chances of unseating Cameron are as good as any.
Garner, who was backed by the BCA and seconded by the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board and has also receieved support from the Jamaica Cricket Association, revealed he was asked to contest the election.
“My election is dependent on six shareholders, and I honestly don’t know what my chances are,”
“But I have been asked to serve, and I will still be open to serve, even if I don’t win,” Garner admitted.