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Four cricketing knights are among a number of retired international cricketers who have joined the chorus of those calling for the dissolution of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB).

Barbados’ national hero Sir Garry Sobers, Sir Wes Hall, Sir Vivian Richards and Sir Andy Roberts, along with other prominent former West Indies cricketers under the banner of Cricket Legends, met with Grenadian Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell last week in the Spice Isle. Mitchell, chairman of the Prime Ministerial Committee on the Governance of West Indies Cricket, has been at the forefront of strident calls for the WICB to be no more.

Sir Garry Sobers, Sir Viv Richards & Sir Wes Hall

Sir Garry Sobers, Sir Viv Richards & Sir Wes Hall

Following that April 14 meeting the Cricket Legends have now issued a media release calling on the WICB to disband itself and appoint an interim committee as part of the structural reforms that would enable the region’s cricket to “develop and flourish”. The Legends called for: the immediate resignation of all current WICB directors; establishment of an interim board; formation of a new board structure; all sponsors of West Indies cricket to make good governance a condition for financial support; the International Cricket Council to understand that dysfunctional management and poor leadership of the WICB were harming the game; and for CARICOM to appoint an independent auditor to carry out a detailed forensic audit of the Board.

The Legends decried the board’s “oligarchic structure” which they said had remained “unchanged in attitude and structure” for the past seven decades.

“During the last two decades, many different presidents and CEOs have led the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and yet, its performance has declined steadily with each passing year,” they said in their media release.

“The Board is an oligarchic structure that considers itself answerable to no one but itself. It is one of the few sporting institutions that have remained virtually unchanged in attitude and structure in the last 70 years or more.”

The Legends said the WICB could not shield itself from such vehement opposition by calling itself a private body. They agreed with the CARICOM panel’s view that the board was accountable to various governments in the Caribbean.

The release also pointed out that the boards in Australia and New Zealand had overhauled their governance structure for the better and that had been reflected in their various teams prospering in all forms of the game. Even the most powerful cricketing board, the Board of Control for Cricket in India, the Legends observed, was under pressure from India’s Supreme Court to open up to radical reforms to its governance structure.

“Inexplicably, the WICB prefers to maintain the status quo and yet, it expects to get different results while it continues to do the same things,” the release said.

“We believe that revival of West Indies cricket will only happen when the Board undergoes structural adjustment, and when it improves the quality of its communication and leadership, and upgrades the management of key relationships.”

Also attending the meeting with Dr Mitchell were Roger Harper, Charlie Griffith, Deryck Murray, who was also member of the CARICOM review panel, Dinanath Ramnarine, who was previously the president of the West Indies Players Association (WIPA), and Desmond Haynes. Former West Indies team manager and psychologist Dr Rudi Webster, and who has been highly critical of the board, was an invited guest at the Grenada meeting.

Although some former players have voiced opposition against the WICB before, this is the first time they have formed a united front to publicly called for the board’s disbandment.

“We are very proud of our legacy,” their release said. “We cannot now in good conscience stand idly by and watch everything that we fought so hard to build and achieve disappear right before our eyes because of the actions of inept Board members and an incompetent Board,” the media release stated.

Last October the five-member review panel comprising Murray, professor Eudine Barriteau, Sir Dennis Byron, Dwain Gill and Warren Smith concluded its report on regional cricket governance and described the WICB as “obsolete”.

However the board rejected the panel’s report, saying none of the six territorial boards – Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana, Leeward Islands and Windward Islands – were represented, nor its directors, clubs and representatives. Hence, it concluded, the panel’s findings were not supported by facts.

But not all Cricket Legends are in agreement with what transpired at last week’s meeting with Dr Mitchell. Former West Indies fast bowler and president of the Barbados Cricket Association, Joel Garner, recently criticized the calls for the dissolution of the WICB and those who questioned its structural legality.

He questioned how some members of the WICB could suddenly be called “illegal” when they were formed according to the individual constitutions of the member countries. He stressed that all the boards which comprised the regional governing body were legitimate entities and could not simply be struck down.

Expressing his unhappiness with politicians meddling in the administration of regional cricket, Garner said the individual boards that made up the WICB were established in the countries where the prime ministers were now making noise and perhaps they should tell the public how they had managed to remain vibrant for so long. (WG)

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