Sunday, December 17, 2017

Scramble for the presidency

THE shambolic state of the West Indies cricket administration, long established, has been further substantiated by the jostling for the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) presidency, the vote for which is scheduled for its annual meeting in St Lucia on March 27.

Two contenders, the current vice-president, Dave Cameron, and former West Indies captain Clive Lloyd, have already stated their intention to seek the post. Additionally, Julian Hunte, after hinting that he would finally step down as president, has been reportedly influenced to seek a fourth successive term.

On the surface, it is democracy at work, with the best man chosen, except that the process is hardly democratic in its literal sense.

Each candidate, and his vice-presidential running mate, can be nominated and seconded only by a full-fledged board member. He needs to clear that hurdle before he goes to the ballot of the 14 electors, comprising president, vice-president and two each from the territorial boards: Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Leeward Islands, Trinidad and Tobago and Windward Islands (in Barbados' case, its votes are cast by its two representatives, Pat Greenidge and Calvin Hope, as distinct from its two directors, BCA president Joel Garner and Conde Riley). The three ex-officio directors do not directly take part.

Hunte's vice-president would either be Garner, the giant fast bowler of the dominant West Indies team of the 1980s, or Gregory Shillingford, the Leewards' president whose background is instructive. Fired as the WICB's chief executive ten years ago, he had his case for wrongful dismissal dismissed in court; at present, he faces a Leewards' association vote of no-confidence.

Cameron, who came onto the WICB as Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) director, appears to have overcome the stigma noted in the Justice Lucky Report of his influence over sponsors Digicel eight years ago in helping fund renovations to his club, Kensington. He has Emmanuel Nanton, the Windward Islands' director, as his running mate.

It would be Hunte's fourth successive term at the head of an organisation where he has held various positions stretching back more than 40 years. Cameron has been his deputy throughout the past six years.

It is the first time anyone even close to the WICB can recall such a three-way contest. The protocol has previously been for the candidate with the majority support to be returned unopposed in a show of unity; if there are three on the ballot paper this time and it comes down to a vote, five, rather than eight, could be decisive.

The wild card is Lloyd.

His previous attempt for a presidential shot was blocked on the grounds that he did not meet the residential requirement; his home was outside the West Indies at the time.

His more recent relationship with the WICB has been such that he can now expect no automatic nomination. Initially installed by Hunte as one of three ex-officio board members, he resigned in 2011 after he was appointed head of the Interim Management Committee set up by the Guyana government following its ruling that the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB), the WICB's affiliate board, was illegally constituted.

While the impasse is still not settled (if anything, it has become more acrimonious), Lloyd has continued to be a strong critic of the WICB's handling of the situation.

Yet there is no reason to doubt his commitment or his assertion that he has been increasingly pushed to go for the presidency. His reputation alone, as the acclaimed leader of the West Indies team during its golden years of the 1980s, recommends him to those who believe it is time to revert to an able cricketer as the head of a cricketing organisation.

Sir Wes Hall was the last Test player in the position 2001-03; Hunte is the latest in the recent sequence of business executives who have overseen mainly chaos and controversy.

Cricketing, even captaincy, skill is obviously no guarantee that Lloyd would make a better fist of the job at a time of rapid changes in the game than anyone else; what makes a disenchanted cricketing public crave for change is the WICB's continued bungling, its costly arbitration losses to the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) and individual players and its failure to improve the general standard of the game.

While Lloyd makes his case by lobbying through the media, governmental involvement is not to be discounted. A scenario, perhaps too far-fetched for serious consideration, has been advanced that the Guyana government recognise the GCB on the guarantee that its directors put forward Lloyd as its candidate and seek support from other boards.

The likeliest outcome is that Hunte would be back in office come March 28 and that nothing will change, as it hasn't for a decade and more.