Let us be mindful of what we cut

 Following life-threatening gangrene infection of one’s leg and an emergency visit to a hospital to have it removed, the expertise of the surgeon in skillfully removing the limb will count for absolutely nothing if he has removed the wrong leg.

One of the most interesting subjects raised at this year’s CARICOM Heads of Government Summit in Grenada has been Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell’s continued chastisement of Cricket West Indies (CWI). To his frequent mouthings on cricket, he has now added a not-so-veiled criticism of Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Browne’s decision to break ranks with those who have called for the dissolution of the cricket board.

It has been previously said – in varied forms – that if one repeats something frequently enough, that eventually it will be viewed as true.

We have an abiding respect for the Grenadian prime minister and his right to have, and to express his views on regional cricket or any subject under the sun. At the ongoing CARICOM meeting in his homeland, Dr Mitchell said West Indies cricket was in crisis and pointed to the team’s failure to qualify for the recent ICC Champions Trophy in England and the unlikelihood of their automatic qualification for the 2019 World Cup, as indicators of the malaise in the regional game.

The veteran leader said that with CWI not discharging its role, CARICOM had a responsibility to act.

“Colleagues, there is an urgent need for us to get back on course because the current state of affairs of cricket should be a complete embarrassment to all of us who call ourselves West Indians. The failure of the team to qualify for the recent Champions Trophy in England, and the possibility that it now has to play a qualifying tournament among the lowest to see if it can make the next World Cup, is the latest symptom of the crisis.

“The West Indies Cricket Board, as presently constituted, has long ceased to pay attention to the alarm bells. The questions must then be asked: Are we going to fiddle in disunity while West Indies cricket burns? Do we stand by and do nothing, as the current system almost renders the regional game irrelevant?”

These were powerful sentiments about a subject that evokes great emotion among Caribbean people. After all, notwithstanding annual CARICOM summits, cricket still remains the greatest unifying force among our islands. But are the sentiments all true because someone of the ilk of Dr Mitchell has been repeating them, ad nauseam, over the last two to three years? It is true that there are problems in regional cricket. But Mr Mitchell would have us believe that the dissolution of CWI will lead to the disappearance of these problems. More pointedly, he would have us believe that to rid our cricket administration of CWI president Dave Cameron would lead to a revival of West Indies cricket. He is not alone in this suggestion but he has been the idea’s main sponsor and has sought to rally regional heads of governments to this cause.

But in the midst of it all, reason appears to be coming from his colleague, Mr Browne, who had this to say in response to Dr Mitchell: “Antigua and Barbuda as a matter of principle does not interfere in the internal affairs of institutions, and governments that are governed by democratically elected officials.

“This is a universal principle on which my government stands,” he said.

He added: “The board operates independently of governments. Now there is a particular head who is of the view, and if I may add here, the flawed opinion that with my support and other heads that he could achieve his compulsive, obsessive desire to dissolve the board.

“The latter he fallaciously argued would automatically resolve the multiplicity of problems facing the West Indies cricket overnight. In the event that he had gotten my support for this fantasy, the question would have been how would he have achieved this forced dissolution.

“Talk is cheap, as leaders we should know our limitations and control our aspirations by ensuring that they do not exceed our limitations.”

In Mr Cameron’s defence, the benefits to be accrued from cricket have been spread to a greater number of players than ever before in the region’s history in terms of contracts and monetary benefits. More cricket at various age groups is being played across the region. Women’s cricket is no longer a sideshow but is receiving significant inputs. The advent of franchise cricket has seen players reaching the international level when not part of the first-class set-up of their places of birth. There has been a turnaround in CWI’s finances. The list of achievements is lengthy. It is now for the players to fulfil their part of the bargain on the field as paid employees should and must.

Of course, there will be mistakes made. But if we dissolved every institution because of mistakes, periods of disappointments or for poor bedside manners, there would be very few political institutions in the region. Good Caribbean governance would be akin to an oxymoron.

We owe Mr Browne some thanks for reminding us all that we should never allow emotion and assumed expertise to lead to the amputation of the good foot.

One Response to Let us be mindful of what we cut

  1. Tony Webster July 6, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    Agreed. While I admire Dr. The Hon. Keith Mitchell in other respects, his tilting at this particular windmill, reminds me not only of Quixotic events, but moreso, of the antics of a more recent evocation, who currently ( and hopefully, temporarily) resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, making America grate its collective teeth.

    There are many other CARICOM windmills in urgent need of tilting…or repairing.


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