Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.







**You may contact me by e-mail at livinginbarbados[at]gmail[dot]com**

Friday, September 18, 2009

It Is Not Hilarious: West Indies Cricket Board Gets New CEO

I have had a lot to say and write about the current debacle in West Indies cricket, but much of that has been in private, or if public not here. I am still not ready to put over a comprehensive view. But let me summarise that my basic position supports a dismantle and rebuild approach, and is not convinced by any strategy that moves on from the existing structures. I really believe that we cannot move very far from where we are without getting rid of a lot. The emotional attachment to cricket in the region makes it hard for many people to see that tinkering--no matter how much--is not the way.

What stops me being more fulsome is perhaps symptomatic of the debate. I am constantly amazed at the levels of senselessness that keep going lower when those involved in the matter of West Indies cricket are in the public eye.

For years, I have wondered where on Earth the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) came from and where did they live. I decided that they were truly aliens who saw things with special eyes or heard things with special ears that were bypassing we mere mortals. But, I got a shock when I found that they were all Earthlings. But why were these chosen ones so out of touch with what I heard and felt about cricket in the region?

Most disturbing, I could not understand how they did not seem to have any moral compass guiding their actions. No matter how crassly they acted, big grins and stiff backs were always in evidence. As shame and ignominy piled up on the region's sport of choice, the WICB never saw any need to deal with itself, for example, by having one or all of its members resign.

So, I gave up hope and I was happy not to think about how men with so few principles were in charge of anything. But, over recent days, as new depths were plumbed, I questioned whether giving up hope was right. No one in WICB seems capable of directing a thing. A Bajan friend of mine alludes to a total inability to organize a piss up in a brewery; i.e., you have all that is needed at hand and yet you fail. In sport, we can also see it as dragging defeat from the jaws of victory. West Indies have almost become masters at that on the cricket pitch.

It is hard not be cynical. My real regret is that we have not been able to get rid of the WICB without all of the egg also spilling over our own faces. The West Indies Players' Association (WIPA) is not free from blame but they are a different kettle of fish. But as the two sides face off, I see the hole in which they stand getting deeper.

But, can we live in hope now?

WICB will have a new chairman, Ernest Hilaire (see Gleaner report), from October 1. In setting the scene for his take over, the Jamaican newspaper says it so well:
  • West Indies cricket, already struggling over the past decade with declining standards and moderate international results, has been crippled in recent months by the contractual dispute between the WICB and the West Indies Players' Association (WIPA).
  • The bitter dispute has decimated the regional team, leading to second-string squads being picked for the home series against Bangladesh in July and the ICC Champions Trophy in South Africa starting later this month after the region's top-flight players made themselves unavailable because of contract issues.
  • The crisis worsened in early September when the WICB declared it would pursue disciplinary action against the defiant players and WIPA advised these players to seek legal action.
Mr. Hilaire will replace Donald Peters, who departed the post in July. I think that some names are not accidents. The word 'peter' can mean a rock; well that one does not fit. The word can also mean 'to diminish gradually and come to an end', or with 'out' can mean 'to become exhausted'. Those ones seem to work. It can also be a vulgar word, meaning penis: I am too well brought up to go there, as I do not know the man at all.

Citing the Gleaner, Mr. Hilaire is a former permanent secretary of Youth and Sports in St. Lucia, under the Kenny Anthony administration, during whose tenure the Beausejour Cricket Ground in Gros-Islet and the George Odlum Stadium in Vieux Fort were constructed. He is a graduate of the University of the West Indies and has a Master of Philosophy in international relations from the University of Cambridge, and a PhD from the London School of Economics. Great credentials.

His name also lends itself to some word play, most obviously, using 'hilarity' meaning 'extremely funny'. I do not know anyone in the region who thinks that the situation is funny at all, but it is getting close to ridiculous.

I wish Mr. Hilaire well, but hope that he manages to live past his name, not up to it.

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