West Indies cricket still in quick sand
In cricketing terms it's like a screaming yorker skilfully dug out, a searing bouncer expertly evaded, a scorching snorter deftly fended off. In real terms it is Emmanuel Nanthan, the vice president of Cricket West Indies (CWI) - formerly the West Indies Cricket Board - playing a perfect forward defensive shot to some hostile bowling by Grenada's Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.
Still playing on the front foot, Nanthan told The Sun in a telephone interview recently that the board continues to operate and it continues to do what it thinks is best for West Indies cricket.
Still defending, Nanthan continued to say that "We have taken on new staff, we have done the segregation of the board. So we continue to do what is best for Cricket West Indies - making more money for the franchise, give our team more opportunities to shine and to practice, so we have a number of A tours coming up so more players can get exposure. We are trying the best that we can to advance the game."
Recall that at the opening of the recent CARICOM summit in St. George's, Mitchell, the incoming chairman, lashed out at "certain member governments" which had "publicly adopted different positions" on the future of CWI after the leaders had agreed it should be dissolved. It was a clear reference to his Antiguan counterpart Gaston Browne, who had made no secret of the fact that he did not wish to interfere in the administration of West Indies cricket.
Mitchell, who last year quit as chairman of the CARICOM sub-committee on cricket in disgust over "a couple of leaders" who "undermined the authority of the chairman", also called on fellow regional leaders to "get back on course, because the current state of affairs of cricket should be a complete embarrassment to all of us who call ourselves West Indians.
He said :"The West Indies Cricket Board, as presently constituted, has long ceased to pay attention to the alarm bells. The questions must then be asked, are we going to fiddle in disunity, while West Indies cricket burns? Do we stand by and do nothing, as the current system almost renders the regional game irrelevant? Will we continue to agree on positions behind closed doors, only to return home and in the glare of the public, push a different agenda? We can do better. We must do better."
The Grenadian leader has been pushing for the implementation of recommendations by a group of eminent persons, headed by the principal of the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies Eudine Barriteau, who had conducted a study commissioned by the leaders.
It found the CWI structure to be "antiquated", "obsolete" and "anachronistic" and recommended the "immediate dissolution of the West Indies Cricket Board and the appointment of an interim board". CWI has rejected these proposals.
Mitchell has found support in his Trinidad and Tobago counterpart Dr Keith Rowley, who, following the CARICOM summit, said the regional body could proceed with a legal challenge to CWI's right to manage the sport in the Caribbean.
Rowley had previously said West Indies cricket had been "hijacked by a small clique of people who are hell bent on destroying" the sport in the region.
Nanthan disagrees. He told The Sun CWI was a democratic organization and would continue to function doing "the work that we have to do". "Other people have their opinions and comments, we are always willing to listen to comments. We have no impasse with CARICOM at this time," he said.
A similar position has been adopted by CWI attorney Tony Astaphan, who said "this attempt by the [prime] ministers to dissolve the WICB is an obsession that I don't quite understand".
In fact, Astaphan described as absurd, the contention by the two leaders that the current state of affairs was leading to disunity, saying they had no moral authority because there is no unity on LIAT, something as critical as LIAT.
He said: "St Lucia, St Kitts and Grenada have refused to contribute to LIAT and they want to dissolve the West Indies Cricket Board. How are you going to dissolve a board that is based in the British Virgin Islands and you have all the sub-groups in CARICOM?
"So it's an obsession . . . a pure political obsession," Astaphan said.
In cricketing terms, that's a nasty delivery. In other terms, West Indies Cricket continue to dance in quicksand.