l St JOHN'S
President of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), Dr Julian Hunte has described 2012 as "a watershed year in West Indies cricket".
Noting that there were a number of historic events in the year, Hunte said that West Indies cricket is better positioned for the rest of the decade on many fronts.
"Most significantly is that the West Indies team won the ICC World Twenty20 Tournament and are world champions again after a period of drought," Hunte noted.
"We must recognise and hail the efforts of Darren Sammy and Ottis Gibson, along with team manager Richie Richardson and the senior players in particular."
Hunte added: "Shivnarine Chanderpaul continues to be an outstanding performer in Tests, once again attaining the top ranking as a Test batsman.
"Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Marlon Samuels and Dwayne Bravo are some of the finest and most entertaining players in the shorter formats in particular, and they are our foremost cricketing ambassadors when in West Indies colours and when they are in other colours flying the West Indian flag in the various leagues around the globe."
Turning his attention to off-the-field, Hunte was high in praise for the partnerships and agreements the WICB was able to secure and finalise during the year.
"We also saw the launch of the Caribbean Premier League, which will come on stream next year, and we were able to secure a major television rights deal with TAJ TV, which will ensure the financial viability of West Indies cricket for this decade," he said.
Hunte also recalled that the regional governing body had managed to increase the number of central retainer contracts from 15 to 20, while a large pool of regional players are set to start receiving regional retainer contracts from next year as part of the licensing agreement with Verus International for the CPL.
"Our women's team continues to build from strength to strength and are now ready to move into the upper echelons of the women's international rankings," he continued.
"Stafanie Taylor was confirmed as the leading player in women's cricket after she won the ICC Women's Player-of-the-Year award and now stands alongside Anisa Mohammed, Shanel Daley, Merissa Aguilleira and Deandra Dottin as some of the finest female cricketers in the world."
Hunte said the developmental programme of the WICB was also stronger now than it has ever been.
"From our Scotiabank Kiddy Cricket programme through to our Digicel Grassroots Cricket, Sandals Under-15 High Performance camps, Under-15, Under-17 and Under-19 tournaments, Sagicor West Indies High Performance Centre and the West Indies A-Team, there are ongoing development programmes at every level of West Indies cricket," he said.
"We have completed the full circle of the foundations of development. It is now for us to remain on course, put in the hard work and reap the rewards and benefits which will follow."
He noted: "The WICB is immensely proud of the success of the Sagicor WIHPC programme in particular.
"We have seen players graduate to the international stage and proven themselves, and we continue to see a host of talent who are successful on the regional scene and who we are confident will step up when the opportunities are provided to them."
Hunte said: "On the commercial side, with Digicel, TAJ TV, Admiral, Verus International, Scotiabank, Sagicor, Sandals Foundation, various tourist boards, as well as various other suppliers and providers, West Indies cricket now has an extensive network of sponsors and partners.
"But even as we continue to build relationships with various sponsors we need to ensure that we secure part or title sponsorships for our domestic tournaments which still need the support of our corporate sector."
Hunte said the WICB was grateful for everyone that had played a part in making the past year successful.
"The board of directors commend the players, the team management and match officials, the WICB staff and all those who work tirelessly for the success of West Indies cricket," he said.
"2012 has been a year of success for West Indies cricket, but it was as a result of careful planning and a determination to change course from years of downward spiralling."
He said: "We must now strive to continue on the path of development and progress which will ensure the future success of West Indies cricket.
"The WICB Strategic Plan 2011-2016 charts the way forward and we have already seen the benefits and success of this critical guiding document. We must now resolve to stay the course, take the difficult decisions and commit to the success of West Indies cricket."