Players claim they don't know the reason February 3, 2008

Bishop, Haynes, Roberts and Walsh dropped from WICB committee

Tony Cozier

Courtney Walsh: "I repeatedly e-mailed the board asking for face-to-face committee meetings, rather than teleconferencing, but got nowhere." © Getty Images

Four legends of West Indies cricket have been dropped from the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) cricket committee and are at a loss to know why.

Ian Bishop, Desmond Haynes, Andy Roberts and Courtney Walsh, a quartet with 338 Tests between them, were notified of their removal from the committee by an e-mailed letter from WICB president Julian Hunte last week.

It is a move that strengthens the long-held perception that the WICB are alienating its most eminent past players. Hunte asked the four to remain on as "special advisors" to a committee that is specifically charged with discussing and making recommendations on cricket matters to the board.

All say they feel a sense of rejection. None has accepted. "We've represented the West Indies with some success and now want to use our experience to contribute to the development of our cricket," Haynes said. "Being on the cricket committee offers that chance. This has come like a bolt from the blue, especially since the reasons are hard to fathom."

They have been replaced by two former chairmen of the committee, Jackie Hendriks, 74, and Mike Findlay, 64, along with Joel Garner and Derrick Parry, all former Test players.

Hendriks, long-serving president of the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA), and Garner, president of the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA), are WICB directors. Like Bishop, Haynes, Roberts and Walsh, Garner is also a director of the Stanford 20/20 Tournament.

Committee chairman Clive Lloyd, West Indies captain during the golden period between 1974 and 1985 and a non-executive WICB director, and deputy chairman Deryck Murray, his one-time vice-captain and WICB director as president of the Trinidad and Tobago Board (TTCB), retained their positions.

Seeking in his letter to explain the changes, Hunte said the board was "moving towards a committee-based governance structure".

"This puts greater emphasis on the committees of the board and will require more frequent face-to-face meetings because of a vastly increased workload," he added. He claimed "logistical problems" had led to difficulties in getting the cricket committee together "in one place at the same time".

"Because cricket is our core function, we have now given it primacy in our meetings," he wrote. "This makes it imperative for the cricket committee to be active and constantly in touch with one another and the board's CEO."

But Walsh, who was recruited to the committee almost a year ago by Lloyd, refuted any assertion that the members were responsible for the "logistical problems".

"I repeatedly e-mailed the board asking for face-to-face committee meetings, rather than teleconferencing, but got nowhere," he said.

Roberts, who remains on the selection panel, noted that whatever the "logistical problems", they were caused mainly by late notification of meetings from the WICB.

"When you're trying to get six people on a committee together for a meeting, they need notice well in advance," he said. "That wasn't happening. For instance, I got a call when I was in Cuba advising me of a meeting a few days later. It just wasn't possible."

Bishop, who makes his home in England, accepted that his international engagements as television commentator restricted his ability to attend every meeting in person. But he pointed out that Walsh, Haynes and Roberts all live in the Caribbean and were usually available.

It would have been impractical to arrange a face-to-face meeting in the past three months since Lloyd has been in Zimbabwe and South Africa as West Indies team manager in that time.

Offering the replaced members positions as advisors, Hunte told them that they would be free, "depending on your availability", to participate in committee meetings. "You will receive notice of meetings and copies of minutes," he stated. "We expect the chairman and vice chairman to solicit your views and ensure that the committee is aware of them."

None of the four are likely to accept the invitation to a diminished role. Instead, their involvement in West Indies cricket will be restricted to their roles on the Stanford 20/20 board.