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… And the media keep right on media-ing: How to bring the WICB to heel

Columnist Earl Best calls on the regional media to sign a hands-off, ‘non-corporation’ pact to bring WICB president Dave Cameron and company to heel:

What know they of cricket, CLR James asked almost five and a half decades ago, who only cricket know?

What know they of West Indies cricket, the updated question seems to be, who West Indies cricket own?

Photo: WIPA president Wavell Hinds (right) and WICB president Dave Cameron exchange pleasantries at the opening of WIPA's new office in Jamaica in 2014. (Courtesy WIPA)
Photo: WIPA president Wavell Hinds (right) and WICB president Dave Cameron exchange pleasantries at the opening of WIPA’s new office in Jamaica in 2014.
(Courtesy WIPA)

And that version of the question is a question that the regional media are seemingly reluctant to ask. And even more reluctant to answer.

It is a question that multiple world record holder Brian Charles Lara implicitly answered in December 1996 when he told a government minister that: “West Indies cricket doesn’t belong to the Board, it doesn’t belong to the players, it belongs to the West Indian people…”

And another BC, surname Pires, seems to be adding his two cents in a far-seeing column entitled “The Agony of the Feat” which he posted on Wired868.

In it, he disputes that the West Indies Cricket Board owns cricket and expresses the view that the time may be right for a “raging fire” to burn to the ground “the collapsed Great House that is the WICB.”

But the ire of a columnist is no more likely to see the WICB Great House razed to the ground than is, despite its thousands of signatures, the petition currently circulating on Facebook calling for the WICB to be disbanded.

Photo: Caricature of West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) president Dave Cameron.
Photo: Caricature of West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) president Dave Cameron.

Why? Because seething anger at the myriad examples of the intolerable arrogance of the WICB is not new. And each time it explodes into visibility, those who are in the best position to do something about it are content merely to reflect it.

Yes. Anger or no anger, the media moguls, maybe mindful of the mega-money they might make, just keep right on media-ing.

Let us consider, for instance, what the media might have done to show solidarity not just with players who repeatedly complain of pressure from the Board but also with the Caricom governments who have been crying in the wilderness “Disband ye the WICB of the overlords?”

What would have been the reaction of the supporters had there been no coverage of either T20 final in the voice, vision or print media?

The very notion is preposterous. West Indies playing in not one but two World Cup finals and nary a word about it available to the millions of adoring fans?

Photo: West Indies' Carlos Brathwaite (right) and teammate Marlon Samuels celebrate after victory in the World T20 cricket tournament final match between England and West Indies at The Eden Gardens Cricket Stadium in Kolkata on 3 April 2016. (Copyright AFP 2016/Dibyangshu Sarkar)
Photo: West Indies’ Carlos Brathwaite (right) and teammate Marlon Samuels celebrate after victory in the World T20 cricket tournament final match between England and West Indies at The Eden Gardens Cricket Stadium in Kolkata on 3 April 2016.
(Copyright AFP 2016/Dibyangshu Sarkar)

Surely there would have been a riot in Castara or in Castries, in Kingston or in Kingstown, in Port-of-Spain or in Porto Bello, in St John’s, St George’s or St Peter’s, in Soufriere, Sandy Point or Spanish Point.

And that might well have been the spark to ignite the conflagration to burn the Great House down.

Does anyone in media authority consider that it is time for BC’s raging fire, that the media can indeed make a telling intervention? Or is the sense of Caribbean impotence so all-pervasive that we all genuinely believe there is nothing we can do?

Can we all be so blind as to be unable to see our power? Or are we just plain dumb? Are we deaf to the pleas of the region’s representatives, whether the voice be Darren Sammy’s, Dwayne Bravo’s or Phil Simmons’?

Do we hear when the team sings the celebratory “Champion” but unplug our hearing aids when the tune is “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother?”

What will it take for those well placed to make a real difference to do something about the status quo? Or about Cameron’s insufferable smugness?

Photo: Having a laugh. West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) president Dave Cameron is unmoved by recent criticisms. (Copyright CaribbeanNewsService)
Photo: Having a laugh. West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) president Dave Cameron is unmoved by recent criticisms.
(Copyright CaribbeanNewsService)

Despite if not near universal disagreement then certainly vocal opposition to his position, Cameron unabashedly declared his intention to support the takeover of cricket by Australia, India and England. West Indians might have been to a man opposed to the move; the West Indian vote was nonetheless “aye.”

And the media kept right on media-ing.

In the India fiasco in 2014, Cameron argued that it was not his responsibility to talk to the disgruntled players; he would speak only to their elected representative. The strategy might have cost the WICB over US$40 million but, his bungling notwithstanding, his cronies re-elected him to head the WICB.

And the media kept right on media-ing.

Not for the first time, a high-powered West Indian committee with the full support of Caricom proposed the dissolution of the WICB as the solution to the ongoing problem in the sport in the region. Not for the first time, the WICB response’s was: “Stay out! West Indian cricket is our business.”

And Cameron unabashedly told Caricom that ‘WICB incorporated’ was his business in the same sense that Lawrence Duprey last year told the T&T Government that Clico was his business.

Photo: West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) president Dave Cameron (left) presents a token to St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves during a WICB-CARICOM meeting. (Courtesy Windies Cricket)
Photo: West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) president Dave Cameron (left) presents a token to St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves during a WICB-CARICOM meeting.
(Courtesy Windies Cricket)

And the media kept right on media-ing.

But the last straw came after the West Indian wins in India.

“We’ve got emails, we’ve got phone calls,” skipper Sammy announced to the world. “(Grenada) Prime Minister (Keith) Mitchell (…) sent a very inspiring email for the team this morning… And I’m yet to hear from our own cricket board. That is very disappointing.”

Few would have forgotten Cameron’s inopportune use of Twitter in South Africa in 2015 to suggest that the out-of-touch Chris Gayle should be given a retirement package owing to his inability to “buy a run.”

Despite the public disapproval that provoked, his prompt response to Sammy was another tweeted, cryptic warning: “When is the last time a critic paid one of your bills? Always remember that when you start to give them your energy.”

Photo: West Indies T20 captain Darren Sammy makes a point.
Photo: West Indies T20 captain Darren Sammy makes a point.

And he followed that up with a thinly veiled threat in an official WICB release to “enquire the reason” and censure the skipper for “what could be deemed inappropriate comments…”

Board vice-president Emmanuel Nanthan, who presumably ‘enquired the reason’ for the comments, dismissed them as “irrelevant, demeaning, insulting and unfortunate.”

And the media kept right on media-ing.

Asked sometime in the 1990’s to select a best-ever West Indies side, Lloyd Best, eschewing orthodoxy as was his wont, surprised everyone with his first pick. It wasn’t Frank Worrell, it wasn’t Gary Sobers; it wasn’t Lara, it wasn’t Viv Richards.

Who was it? It was Tony Cozier!

The message is clear: important as is what happens on the field, its impact would arguably be much less far-reaching were it not for the contribution of the media.

Photo: Late West Indies and Barbados cricket pundit Tony Cozier. (Copyright BBC)
Photo: Late West Indies and Barbados cricket pundit Tony Cozier.
(Copyright BBC)

Which is precisely why the media in the region are in the best position to do something about the overweening swagger of Cameron, Nanthan, CEO Michael Muirhead and company, and metaphorically raze their commandeered edifice to the ground.

To my mind, committed media must not keep on merely mindlessly media-ing.

About Earl Best

Earl Best
Earl Best taught cricket, French, football and Spanish at QRC for many years and has written consistently for the Tapia and the Trinidad and Tobago Review since the 1970's. He is also a former sports editor at the Trinidad Guardian and the Trinidad Express and is now a senior lecturer in Journalism at COSTAATT.

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10 comments

  1. Having read all the demeaning comments about DAVE CAMERON, his high handed attitude, and all the negatives associated with the Board’s President, it strikes me that he feels “he is master of all he surveys”, and rightly so. We only have to reflect to, not long ago when the opportunity arose to oust the goodly gentleman from office, the same people who are now clamouring to rid cricket of this virus, are the people who shamelessly voted him right back into office…the cricket representatives of the islands. If I remember correctly the vote was almost unanimous….Hind sight is 20/20 vision, or is it.

  2. I have known dogs who were ‘vicious’ only because there was a fence between them and the public. I can’t help but think that the WICB behaves the way they do because of a ‘fence’ that is protecting them. Who or what is that fence?

    Cameron was known to be an improper leader, yet he was relected – why? Politics. Not party politics of course, but cricket politics, and Caribbean politics. Big vs small. Jamaica vs Trinidad and Guyana. Cameron is arrogant because he has a fence protecting him. Figure out who or what is the fence, and then the WICB can be dismantled.

  3. Chabeth Haynes, Unfortunately Caricom is Divided on the Matter and a United Caricom is the First Weapon in Bringing down the WICB…… We have Some of the Caricom Countries Selling out in Return for Matches, despite the Disapproval of Many of their Countrymen……

  4. Unfortunate truth, standing up full trottle essentially being blacklisted like the late Cozier, Holding, Reds Perreira

  5. The Media do have a Part to Play in Bringing down WICB, No only in not Televising Matches but Helping to Show up the Deficiencies at the Crumbling House (WICB), the Problem is, Which House is willing to risk Being Victimized and Grab the Bull by the Horn??

  6. They are more concerned about the Immediate $$ they will make

  7. I Expect the Media to Keep on Mediaing

  8. Can’t imagine how it would have felt to the men and women to be playing in the final and know that their performance would have been unavailable to their supporters/fans, (save for maybe an online feed)…
    Public disapproval of the WICB isn’t high because media reports indicate Cameron and company are doing a great job. In any case, journalists are supposed to remain objective. Columnists/commentators take sides and we’ve had commentary from both sides.
    Politicians are the elected representatives of the people who vow to serve the interests of the people. There are a whole lot of ppl unhappy with the board yet still there are regional heads of government still skinning and grinning and chummy-ing up with the board.
    Australia, South Africa, and India coming to the region and finding grounds to play at hasn’t been a problem. And it should be… And that’s on the politicians.