Guest Column

It's the culture of West Indies cricket administration that needs changing

There have been no repercussions within the West Indies board over the abandonment of the India tour. Till it's held accountable, things will not improve

Michael Holding
Dave Cameron, the WICB president, and Wavell Hinds, the WIPA president, at the agreement-signing ceremony, Bridgetown, September 18, 2014

The WICB's own task force blamed the board and the players association for the India tour debacle  •  WICB Media Photo/Randy Brooks

I have been following the arguments being put forward in the Caribbean concerning the upcoming board elections, and it certainly seems more like a political campaign than what used to be a simple vote to pick the next president of the WICB.
I can't remember ever getting involved publicly supporting anyone for the post before and I am not doing so now. But since two people have chosen to publish my name in their articles on the matter, I would like to put a few facts in the public domain for those who probably are unaware of them.
One person accused me of defending the players' actions in the debacle that took place in India and of being dishonest in that defence. I have written two articles on that abandonment, both of which were not attacked or criticised by the WICB, because they were factual. I am certain if they had not been, the opportunity would not have been lost in tearing them apart. I know for a fact that the first article, written while I was still in India, was sent to the directors, who were told to come to the next meeting with comments. But no comment was made publicly because, as I said earlier, it was factual.
That first article did the same thing that the task force put together by the WICB did. It placed the cause of the problem that eventually led to the abandonment of the tour squarely at the feet of the WICB and, to a lesser extent, the West Indies Players Association.
At no time in either article did I say the players were right in calling for a strike and causing the abandonment of the tour. Even the cause of the abandonment of the tour is debatable, because it was actually abandoned while the fourth ODI was in progress. The BCCI received correspondence from the president of the WICB during the game that the rest of the tour had been abandoned. It can be argued that the cricketers could not have called off the tour while they were playing in a game.
At no time in either article did I say the players were right in calling for a strike and causing the abandonment of the tour
As for that decision being a "board decision", that too is debatable. I was on commentary when the press release came through that the rest of the tour had been abandoned. I said to the person in the back of the commentary box who had relayed the message that it had to be a joke. But when I came off commentary a few minutes later, I realised that it was true. I immediately jumped on the phone and made contact directly or through another party with three directors of the WICB, who said they knew nothing of the development. I discerned that within 15 minutes of getting off commentary, and I wonder whether, if I had had the contact details for other directors, they would have been as dumbfounded as those three.
The facts and documents concerning the abandonment of the tour are available on the BCCI website. I leave it to those who seek the truth to have a read, come to their own conclusions and place the blame where they think it belongs.
Be that as it is, I am a bit worried about recent developments. Considering the hullabaloo going on in Jamaica regarding the democratic process the board went through with regard to whom to support for the presidency, you would believe a crime had been committed. I am well aware of the parochialism in the Caribbean, but I always thought that although not free from it in Jamaica, we were a bit more open-minded than most. After all, I know a number of former cricketers, not from Jamaica, who have had benefit functions and events held in their honour in Jamaica. And to hear the major reason for discontent coming out of some people's mouths as being that it is a disgrace to support a non-Jamaican over a Jamaican is shocking.
Anyway, I am looking beyond whoever gets to be the next president of the WICB. I believe that changing the constitution and the culture of the board is very important if we're going to be able to make any progress with the governance of our game. So many people have made reference to the Patterson and Wilkins report that I won't go over that ground again. But everyone ought to see that something has to be done.
The WICB is answerable to no one at the moment. It does as it likes, with no accountability, as it has done over the years. This recent problem in India is fresh in the mind. The WICB's own task force found it guilty of being part of the problem that caused the abandonment of the tour. What has happened? What have the repercussions been? So far nothing.
How can any organisation operate effectively if there are no checks and balances, no repercussions for bad management? All the WICB does is take it out on those it has power over - the players.
Just today the current captain, in an interview in Australia leading up to the World Cup, has said the West Indies team is weaker without Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard, but he is not a selector and so has no control. What does it say when the chairman of selectors and the WICB keep saying that the team was selected on merit? Again, I leave it to the public to decide.

Former West Indies fast bowler Michael Holding is now a leading commentator