Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Wednesday | July 22, 2009
Home : Commentary
EDITORIAL - Howling jackals and the WICB

Not unexpectedly, the jackals and buzzards have begun to gather, ready to pick at what is perceived to be the carrion of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB).

But if, indeed, the WICB has been felled by the 2-0 defeat of the makeshift Test team by Bangladesh, the rot is not only of the administrators of the game. Theirs mingle with the West Indies Players' Association (WIPA), the trade union of the regional cricketers that, from our perspective has been overcome by hubris and greed.

For WIPA is no less culpable than the board, whose decay, assuming that is its state, is widely acknowledged and declared by its critics. WIPA, on the other hand, is oblivious to its own truths, of which it won't apprise itself, and about which others are too afraid, or too polite, to be frank.

To begin with, while there is plenty about which the WICB ought to be criticised, any humiliation over the loss to Bangladesh is at best naive and more likely to be contrived. Even if the first-choice players were present, nothing in their performance in recent years convinces us that the outcome against Bangladesh would have been different, or substantially so.

Fundamental point

The fundamental point, however, is that the absence of the players from the matches in St Vincent and Grenada did not rest on any great matter of principle. It was a strike aimed at wringing from the board more than the J$131.8 million, or 74 per cent, of the $178 million the WICB was paid for the recent tour of England. No side can absolve itself of culpability in the long-running and ongoing contract dispute.

There is a point, however, to remember. the West Indies does not usually make money from home series, so it depends on earnings abroad for the cash to fund domestic cricket, such as the Under-19 tournament now being played in Jamaica.

In all likelihood, players calculated that public sentiment against the WICB and sterile interpretation would be so in their favour that they would win, eventually, at arbitration and in the court of public opinion. The truth, however, is that by withdrawing from the series, the players and their trade union leader, Dinanath Ramnarine, demonstrated, we believe, not only a lack of appreciation of basic economics, but selfishness and disrespect for West Indies cricket fans.

Cumbersome structure

This latest debacle in West Indies cricket, as we suggested last week, ought to be the catalyst for the urgent reorganisation of the WICB, though not with the cumbersome structure proposed by the Patterson Committee.

The board should be relaunched as an enterprise, one-third owned each by territorial boards, the Caribbean Community and the West Indian public, with the latter's holding being publicly traded stocks. Each side would name directors, but with weighted voting rights, and other corporate safeguards would be built in to protect against the dominance of special-interest bureaucracy.

But any restructuring ought not to be limited to the WICB. WIPA, too, should recognise that its role as Shylock is unsustainable and that it ought to grow beyond the image and philosophy of Mr Ramnarine.

The opinions on this page, except for the above, do not necessarily reflect the views of The Gleaner. To respond to a Gleaner editorial, email us: editor@gleanerjm.com or fax: 922-6223. Responses should be no longer than 400 words. Not all responses will be published.

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