Calling the governance structure of the West Indies Cricket Board "antiquated", "obsolete" and "anachronistic", the CARICOM cricket review panel has recommended the WICB be dissolved and all current members resign. It has also recommended that the WICB be replaced by an interim board, which will work with a change management expert to install a new governance framework.
The CARICOM panel was appointed by the Prime Ministerial Committee on the Governance of West Indies Cricket in the wake of the crisis that engulfed the board after the BCCI suspended bilateral ties and slapped $41.97 million as damages following West Indies' decision to pull out midway through their India tour in 2014.
Set up to review the governance and administrative structure of the WICB, the panel interviewed various stakeholders including the management of the board, renowned former West Indies players, current players, territorial boards and a host of other key personalities attached to the game in the region. Based on its findings, the panel concluded that the WICB's governance model had failed to evolve and that it did not prioritise accountability and transparency.
"It is now past the time to accept that the current governance structures are obsolete," the exhaustive report stated. "There is an inherent and as yet unresolved tension between the evolution of the game of cricket into a powerful, professionally driven, entertainment and sporting industry and a system of governance predicated on an earlier, more simplified set of requirements.
"In this regard, the Panel strongly recommends the immediate dissolution of the West Indies Cricket Board and the appointment of an Interim Board whose structure and composition will be radically different from the now proven, obsolete governance framework. These two key measures are absolutely necessary in order to transform and modernize the governance, management, administration and the playing of the game."
The five-member panel comprising V. Eudine Barriteau, Sir Dennis Byron, Dwain Gill, Deryck Murray and Warren Smith, concluded its report on October 15 and submitted it to the WICB. Contents of the report were made public on Wednesday at a media conference by the panel. Dave Cameron, the WICB president, has stated that the board would deliberate on the panel's report and recommendations at the meeting of the directors on December 12 in St Lucia.
According to the report, the conclusions reached by the panel were based on the "state and status" of West Indies cricket, which has been in disarray for at least 15 years. Deep divide between players and administrators, constant player strikes, pay disputes, players' loss of faith in the West Indies Players Association and the languishing of West Indies men's teams at the bottom of ICC rankings (eighth in Test and only above Ireland, Zimbabwe and Afghanistan in ODIs) were some of the points highlighted by the report.
Two recent examples that exposed the rot, the report said, were: the players' boycott of the WICB administration during the India tour in 2014, and Phil Simmons' suspension as coach in September this year. Simmons, who was appointed in March, was penalized for expressing his opinion that he had failed to get the best ODI team for Sri Lanka as external factors meddled in the selection.
"It is now past the time to accept that the current governance structures are obsolete"The CARICOM cricket review panel
That the decline has been allowed to foster, the panel said, was only because both WICB as well as its members - the six territorial boards of Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana, Leeward Islands and Windward Islands - had failed to be transparent and accountable, as "they do not respect the basic tenets of good governance" within their operations.
Continuing with the extant structure would only marginalise West Indies cricket and reduce its relevance in the "global political economy of cricket", the report warned. The decline in the quality of West Indies cricket has already forced opponents to reduce the number of matches during bilateral engagements. The panel said the norm now was to offer West Indies two Test-match tours and two to three one-day internationals only because of a developing perception that it is not attractive and lucrative anymore.
Consequently the current WICB administration, lead by Cameron, has drawn a lot of criticism over the last 12 months. Incidentally Cameron was re-elected as WICB president for a second term, but his popularity outside the board has dipped. The CARICOM panel, however, pointed out that it was not against any individual per se.
"The Panel wishes to state unequivocally it has no issues with the individuals who occupy the leadership and composition of the WICB or the territorial Boards." At the same time, however, the report said: "The current system of governance is anachronistic; the crises resulting from lack of cricket development, poor on-field performance and our unfavourable international reputation are deepening. We conclude that it is now urgent that a modern, transparent and accountable system of governance replace the existing model."
As a solution, the panel recommended WICB follow the example of Cricket Australia which, it said, had started under very similar circumstances. "They accepted the need for review and change, and produced a revised governance structure that emphasized professional competencies over territorial representation."
The panel also suggested that, going forward, new management and members of the WICB should be chosen based on certain criteria and skill-sets and recruitment should be overseen by a head-hunting firm so that individuals of the "highest calibre" are chosen.
Also taking a cue from the ICC-approved interim board that has overseen the Sri Lanka Cricket over the past few months, the panel suggested a nine-member interim board be appointed along with a change management expert until the new board and governance structure were put in place. "The Panel recommends a Board comprising of [sic] 9 members selected on the basis of proven professional competencies. This is a requirement in order to achieve the long overdue shift away from representation to professionalism."
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo