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NORTH THE KEY

Zonal poll could tilt TTCB election race

By Kern De Freitas

The results of the impending Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB) elections, to be held on October 24 at their Annual General Meeting (AGM), could hinge on the outcome of last evening’s North Zone poll.

The incumbent Movement for Change, seeking their third straight term, are currently facing an intense battle from the former West Indies Players Association (WIPA) president and CEO Dinanath Ramnarine-led slate, which also includes ex-T&T cricket captain Daren Ganga.

Ramnarine and company have been working quietly behind the scenes, as has been confirmed by a number of the TTCB Premier Division clubs, although the former West Indies cricketer declined comment on the election.

His overwhelming support at the National League level--although providing just six of the 48 votes on offer for the national TTCB election--is a big indicator that an upset could be on the cards, according to a number of clubs.

But in the past, as indicated by the experience of the then Deryck Murray-led “Friends of Cricket”—who enjoyed promises of support but lost by a big margin in 2009—it isn’t a guarantee of success.

The target for victory is 29 votes. Of the 48 up for grabs, five will come from national officers—comprising the incumbent president Azim Bassarath and other executive members—six nominated members, seven zones with a total of 21 votes (three per zone), six National League representatives, and finally two each from the Tobago Cricket Association, the T&T Women’s Cricket Association, the Primary and Secondary Schools cricket leagues and the umpires.

The feeling among clubs is that the schools elections—which are yet to take place—and the umpires votes could swing either way. And if the current slates receive support expected from their various zones and representatives, it could leave them neck and neck.

While Ramnarine has secured the support of the South West, South, East and Central zones, Bassarath’s team won South East and North East.

That leaves the North Zone. With its three votes, it can not only give one side the advantage, but could also sway support depending on where the trend seems to be headed. “At this point in time, honestly, I think it’s too close to call. Basically, I think it will go down to the wire,” one club representative told the Express yesterday.

Two of the clubs felt that Ramnarine might have the edge based on the results of the National League, and the general feeling on the ground at the moment.

Not everyone, though, has that feeling. Preysal president Anthony Harford thinks Bassarath and company may nose ahead.

“I would suggest that the race still favours the incumbent,” Harford told the Express on Tuesday. “Ramnarine has lost a couple of key zones. It’s not so much winning the clubs, but the zones’ (voting) at the AGM.”

Harford recalled his experience as a candidate in 1999, when he went up against long-standing administrator Alloy Lequay for the post of TTCB president.

“I won five of the six zones and still lost (the election) by two votes,” he stated.

Harford said he is not for “picking a side”, but is hopeful, based on the way things are shaping up, that the elected executive will reflect selections from more than one faction. A good mix, he feels, and some new faces on the executive, will be “very healthy” for national cricket.

He would not, however, call the race with any certainty. But he stressed that there are some things the incumbent board needs to improve.

“It’s exactly as the race looks,” Harford related. “There’s no difference to what is emerging. What may work in favour of Dinanath Ramnarine and his team is that we must not kid ourselves. The National League was not as it should have been.

“There were too many issues, and that is why I think he won the National League elections. I think it is a reflection that the clubs at the highest level were simply not happy with how the National League was run.” That they have some work to do has not been lost on Movement for Change.

“Yes we are disappointed,” TTCB executive member Patrick Rampersad told the Express last week. “We thought we had performed extremely well as a board and we expected to get the support of the cricketing fraternity, that is to say the clubs, but the clubs did not share our view and overwhelmingly voted for the opposition. We have taken the results and we are planning our strategy accordingly.

“While there must be a level of concern, we still have some time and I am confident we can turn things around before the AGM.”

By today, just how much work is needed should be more apparent.
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