Dr. the Hon. Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada, representing the Prime
Ministerial Sub-Committee received the Position Paper on 14 March 2000 from a three-member
delegation representing the Concerned Citizens for Justice of Antigua and Barbuda.
Attorney-at-Law, Mr. Harold Lovell led the delegation. Accompanying him were
Attorney-at-Law, Mr. Terrence Small, and Ms. Mikel Bramm, who is the group's Press
Prime Minister Mitchell extended an invitation to the group to make a submission to the
CARICOM/UWI Cricket Conference slated for May this year.
POSITION PAPER ON WEST INDIES CRICKET
BY CONCERNED CITIZENS FOR JUSTICE
ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA
the Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on West Indies Cricket
CARICOM Heads of Government Inter-Sessional Meeting
Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis
13-14 March, 2000
We the Concerned Citizens for Justice of Antigua and Barbuda humbly approach the Prime
Ministerial Sub Committee on West Indies Cricket to bring concerns which we believe are
shared by a significant cross section of the Caribbean public. We have also taken this
opportunity to make suggestions which we trust may be forwarded to the relevant bodies for
consideration and action.
The recent handling by the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) of the selection process
for team coach is the most recent chapter in a tale of mismanagement at the highest level.
This has disappointed, surprised and angered many in the Caribbean. The institution of
Cricket is an integral part of the tapestry of Caribbean life and its management is the
concern of every Caribbean citizen. That is why the treatment meted out to Sir Vivian
Richards has aroused such strong sentiments within the region and in particular in Antigua
and Barbuda. Sir Vivian Richards is a regional icon of excellence, an international
cricket statesman and a national hero of Antigua and Barbuda. He represents the best of
West Indies Cricket at its best. He has also co-authored a coaching manual ("Viv
Richards cricket Masterclass" 1988) .
He has a proven record of success upon which to stand. He is still the most successful
captain in the history of West Indies Cricket at a time when the captain also served as
coach and has demonstrated an ability to command the respect of players and to motivate
them to succeed.
Sir Vivian Richards was called upon to act as coach when the late Malcolm Marshall fell
ill during the recently concluded World Cup Finals. In responding to the request of the
Board, he terminated prematurely a commentary contract. He subsequently served willingly
as coach for the New Zealand tour under difficult circumstances. No fair minded person
could have expected an instant turnaround in the fortunes of the team.
He was required to submit to an interview process in circumstances where all positions
were not filled by a similar process and all positions were not advertised. Further, it is
apparent that there was an in-built bias in favour of certification over accomplishment
and past achievement. Whatever the reasons for the Board's decision, it is our view that
given the stature of an contributions made by Sir Vivian Richards, the public humiliation
that followed was insensitive, callous and disrespectful. No West Indian cricketer who has
worn the maroon colours of the team should be subjected to this type of treatment.
If due respect had been accorded, as it should have been, no less a person than the
President of WICB would have made contact with Sir Vivian and discussed the thinking of
the Board and come to some agreement with regard to a significant role for him to play in
the management of West Indies Cricket. The position of Technical Director is one example.
Courtesy and respect demanded that discussions take place before any public announcement
was made. The statement made by the Board, after the fact, that there will be a role for
Sir Vivian to play was inappropriate and only compounded the insult. It is inconceivable
that before the announcement of the new management team no discussion took place with Sir
Vivian Richards. It is now well known that the WICB has apologised for the contemptuous
manner in which the decision of the Board was communicated to Sir Vivian. In our view the
failure by the President and Vice President to take direct responsibility is a serious
dereliction of duty.
None of the unsuccessful interviewees for the positions of manager and coach were
treated any better. All were informed by a junior secretary in the Secretariat. Those
applicants who were not selected for the February interviews were finally informed that
they had not been short listed following the public outcry over the treatment of Sir
Vivian in March.
We feel affronted when Joel Garner who also symbolises the era of West Indies Cricket
excellence and dominance is treated with scant respect. Men of the calibre of Sir Vivian
Richards and Joel Garner deserve better.
Former Guyana and West Indies middle order batsman Basil Butcher stated his views in
the following terms: "... nowhere in the world would find a country doing away with
the services of a man with over 121 tests, 8000 runs and 15 years of English County
cricket experience. His experience and achievements alone should give him a doctorate in
all aspects of cricket..." said Mr. Basil Butcher (CricInfo 3/3/2000).
Noted cricket historian and one of the region's leading intellectuals, Professor Hilary
Beckles of the University of he West Indies had this to say: "Was it not Clive Lloyd
and Sir Vivian Richards as leaders who took us to (World Championship) and sustained it
for almost 20 magnificent years...? an unprecedented, unparalleled achievement ... Did
these two gentlemen not bring honour, dignity and vision to cricket culture?... Who on the
WICB has the right to decide that Sir Vivian the greatest "general" of all in
the global war game isn't qualified to train the youth?..." (Trinidad Express
Commenting on the treatment of Sir Vivian , former West Indies captain Rohan Kanhai
described it as a "slap in the face" and stated that, "it is not fair for
this to happen to one of the greatest cricketers of all time." (Daily Observer,
The sentiments expressed above reflect the strong sense of indignation felt throughout
the Caribbean in relation to the handling of the entire process by the WICB. The issue has
brought into sharp focus the insensitive and disrespectful management style of the WICB as
it pertains to those who have built the game and brought honour, dignity and pride to the
region. Sir Vivian Richards is the most recent victim but others who have had justifiable
reason to feel aggrieved over the years include Sir Garfield Sobers, Desmond Haynes,
Richie Richardson and Andy Roberts.
Systematically, the Board has failed to manage its relationship with the players in a
manner conducive to sustained harmonious relations between the Board and the players. Over
the past five years, there have been numerous crises, indicating mutual distrust between
the Board and the players. In a thorough analysis of the management of West Indies Cricket
Mr. Tony Marshall observes that: "Rightly or wrongly there has been much
dissatisfaction as far as the players are concerned, with the way the West Indies Cricket
Board conducts its affairs. More importantly its treatment of players as they depart the
Marshall calls for a more open policy to be adopted by the Board, a policy of early
disclosure of selectors views to players and the promotion of more benefit games for
When regional icons of excellence are set up and then cast aside it damages and
destroys an inspirational source for the young and diminishes us all in the eyes of the
world. The issue of the relationship of the Board to former test players, must be
addressed. Is it merely a coincidence that none of the great players from the "glory
days" of West Indies Cricket are playing any significant role in the management of
the game? We think not. We go further to posit that an effort must be made to bring more
of the former test greats into the management of the game.
The constitutional modus operandi of the Board needs to be addressed so that
former players are brought directly into the decision making process of the WICB. We urge
that expression be given to the view that the powers and the composition of the present
Cricket Committee of the WICB be reviewed. All cricket decisions ought to be made by this
Committee including selectors, grounds, coaches, umpires and cricket development. The
Committee ought to be able to make final decisions rather than the system at present where
the Committee may only make recommendations to the Board who can and do refuse to
implement recommendations. The Cricket Committee should comprise principally but not
exclusively persons who have cricket experience and an effort should be made to
"refresh" the Committee with younger members who are more able to relate to
Further, the issue of the accountability of the Board must be seriously considered. The
WICB must be accountable to the public and cricketing fans in the Caribbean. To this end,
we propose that the WICB tables annually its audited financial statements and a report on
the activities of the Board before the Parliament of each and every member state from
which the West Indies team is selected.
This requirement ought to be a condition precedent for the approval of the WICB's
application for a Caribbean Lottery to fund West Indies Cricket which we understand is
before the Heads of Government.
In order to ensure greater efficiency in the WICB and restore and maintain excellence
to West Indies Cricket, we propose that the position of CEO be abolished and the position
of President and Vice President be upgraded to remunerated positions. In the new and
improved structure the President will become the de facto and de jure
CEO of the WICB. Consequently, great past test players would become qualified for these
positions which hitherto they could not hold because of the lack of remuneration.
In addition, the President and Vice President would devote all their time and effort to
the development and management of West Indies Cricket and not as presently is the case
where these positions are held by businessmen and professionals who devote only a part of
their time and effort to these positions at best.
We further propose the rationalisation for the WICB bureaucracy to ensure optimum
efficiency in the Secretariat itself and greater expenditure on cricket and cricket
development in the Region.
To ensure employment of the best available talent by the WICB, we propose that all
vacancies for administrative, managerial and technical positions be advertised by the
Board in the newspapers of each and every member state where cricket is played
competitively. This will promote an employment policy based on merit, expertise and
The Coach selection fiasco is the " last straw to break the camel's back."
In light of the forgoing, we humbly request that representations be made on our behalf
for an urgent review of the constitution, rules and practices of the WICB. We believe that
greater rationalisation of resources, greater transparency, accountability and a change of
the modus operandi of the Board are necessary for the greater good, that of West