In the last two decades, West Indies cricket has been trapped in an ever-increasing failure spiral and just when we think that things cannot get any worse, they do. A constant turnover of presidents, CEOs, directors of cricket, head coaches, specialist coaches, trainers and players have so far failed to arrest and reverse that decline.
What has not changed is the intransigence and autocracy of Cricket West Indies (CWI) and its selfish and irrational aversion to the reform of its antiquated structure; factors that have contributed greatly to that failure spiral. Other deficiencies are lack of awareness and responsibility, hostile attitudes toward players and failure to create a learning and enabling environment.
Some of our cricket administrators are behaving like desperate people crying out for power, status, enrichment, recognition and public acclamation and it is sometimes sad to see them doing anything and everything to succeed. But there are other motives such as making an honest living, winning for oneself to experience that quiet inner feeling of satisfaction and sense of achievement, and boosting other people’s self-worth and self-confidence to get the best out of them.
Watching how ignorance and unreason have crept into the administration of West Indies cricket is quite perplexing. CWI members are not just ill informed; they are aggressively wrong and are unwilling to learn. They seem to have an antipathy to the expertise, experience and professional know-how of past administrators and former great players from the Worrell and Lloyd champion teams. To reject the advice of these experts and to instinctively resist facts that might challenge their status and beliefs is a way of insulating their fragile egos from ever being told that they are wrong about anything. One gets the impression that our administrators have reached a point where ignorance of cricket matters and cricket performance is an actual virtue.
The Dunning-Kruger effect that was described in 1999 states that the less competent people are the greater the belief they tend to have in their own competence. But insecurity often forces them to say that they know, when they don’t know. This was not always the case. Past cricket administrators used to operate in a more reasonable manner. They did not pretend to know everything.
Caribbean people will agree that our cricket is in a very unhealthy and dangerous state. So how will this period end? In this time of unreason and malfunction anything is possible. Let’s hope that it doesn’t end in disaster. The cricketing public have lost all confidence in CWI and are praying that CARICOM will step up to the plate to save what is left of West Indies cricket and get the West Indies team back to its winning ways.
For years CARICOM prime ministers have been asking the board, now CWI, to examine and improve its governance of West Indies cricket, but their pleas were usually ignored. Disagreements between the two bodies came to a head in 2014 soon after the BCCI slapped CWI with a $42 million claim for damages after the West Indies team abandoned its tour of India. Disagreements intensified when CWI rejected the findings and recommendations of the Governance Review Panel that was jointly chosen by CWI and CARICOM and which was headed by Professor Eudine Barriteau of the University of the West Indies. CWI won that battle and while it enjoyed its victory, CARICOM went quiet.
But at the recent Intersessional summit in Haiti, CARICOM took the decision to have another try to save West Indies cricket. The prime ministers stressed that West Indies cricket is “a public good managed by a private entity” when in fact it is a public good that is mismanaged by a private entity. The prime ministers plan to meet the International Cricket Council (ICC) in London during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in April to express their deep concerns about the current governance and the future of West Indies Cricket. ICC will do the right thing and listen but I do not believe that it will act or intervene. I wish the prime ministers luck.
CARICOM leaders cannot change past mistakes, but they have the power to act decisively in the present to rewrite the future of West Indies cricket. They have two powerful trump cards that they can play and they must play them while holding a big stick over the head of CWI. This is not the time for diplomacy. It is time for decisive action.