Saturday, December 16, 2017

No runs on the board

 There is a saying that says that silence is golden. But that is not always true.

For it can also be argued that silence is dangerous. The West Indies Cricket Board and the Caribbean Premier League officials do not seem to appreciate the danger of silence. For one thing a lack of information leaves room for speculation. And speculation in the Caribbean can cause much bacchanal.

As I sit here, people in the Caribbean, including the fans preparing to attend the first one-day international against Bangladesh in Grenada today are in the dark about who is in charge of coaching the West Indies team. One would expect that that situation would have changed by day’s end. But in the meantime, rumour and speculation prevailed because of the refusal of the administrators to come clean about the status of Ottis Gibson.

West Indies Cricket Board president Dave Cameron got opportunities on Monday to set things straight following a weekend of speculation over coach Gibson’s future. However, he told this newspaper, “he (Gibson) is not in Grenada, that much we can confirm.” 

Asked also if the WICB was in discussions over Gibson’s position as head coach, president Cameron volunteered “we are in discussions,” before ending the conversation with reporter Roger Seepersad.

Our colleagues at the Nation newspaper in Barbados had no greater success in getting the facts from the president. He told them that he could not “confirm or deny” whether Gibson was still in charge. 

Not much to go on is it? 

Clearly, whatever events transpired over the weekend with the West Indies coach led to an unresolved situation on Monday. And while it is completely understandable that in such a situation, officials have to be cautious about what is said in public, caution does not mean silence. Contemptible silence..

What it gives rise to is not a sense of confidence in those who are running cricket’s affairs. The lack of information encourages suspicion that may not be justified, and it strengthens the perception of the public that the body that runs regional cricket is not transparent.

The principals behind the CPL would also do well to re-think their strategy over public relations.

These words are being written nearly a full three days since the controversial end to the final of the League’s second season, that was decided on the Duckworth/Lewis method, rather than the match being played out to the full quota of overs. Twenty-five balls were left in the match when the last, not lengthy shower hit Warner Park.

The losing Guyana Amazon Warriors have since filed a protest—according to a press release the team management gave to the media. And yet, there has been no word from the CPL in response. At least not at the time of typing.

The merits or not of the losers’ case could be debated. But surely, the CPL people needed to publicly acknowledge the complaint. In a timely fashion.

The treatment so far of this matter mirrors the way the CPL handled the naming controversy concerning the Trinidad and Tobago franchise.

It was only Dwayne Bravo’s public rant over the dropping of the Trinidad and Tobago name from the team’s title that alerted the public to an issue which had been raised since last September by then Minister of Sport, Anil Roberts. Following the Red Steel’s first match against the Barbados Tridents in Grenada, Bravo told the media he had only officially learned of the name change at the toss. 

Minister Roberts did not take kindly to Bravo’s criticisms.

However, it took a public demand from Roberts for clarification before the CPL’s CEO Damien O’Donohoe finally made a statement on the matter that ironically produced more questions than answers. 

Eventually, further government intervention was needed before the Red Steel were allowed to use the T&T name once more. 

A clear and definitive explanation on the matter by the CPL before a ball was bowled in the season would have eliminated much of the negative press during the course of the tournament; bad press that the League seemed so keen to avoid in the first place.

The organisers chose to deal with their problem through silence, hoping it would go away. It didn’t.

Silence did more harm than good. And the events of Saturday night through to yesterday, were threatening to do the same to a venture that again held the public imagination, not because of it’s novelty as was the case in 2013, but because of the improved quality of the cricket this season.

The West Indies Board, embarking on a comprehensive revamping of  the structure of the game, does not need to remind the public of its past shortcomings.

However, the Ottis Gibson uncertainty did not help its cause.

No, gentlemen. Playing the silence game here is like a batsman leaving alone a ball certain to hit the stumps. 

The result will put no “runs” on the board.