Strongman Cameron leaves Herculean challenge: how soon can Skerritt and Shallow clean CWI’s stink stables?

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“We have already delivered the impossible. For miracles, feel free to check back later.”

Were I in the shoes of new CWI President Ricky Skerritt, that is what I would have tweeted on Monday afternoon for the benefit of the West Indies fans, new, old and returning. I confidently affirm, without the benefit of any survey, that the numbers of this last group have swelled as a result of Sunday’s Skerritt/Kishore Shallow victory.

Photo: New Cricket West Indies (CWI) president Ricky Skerritt.

Standing in my own shoes, however, I want to say this publicly and in words: I am glad, elated, overjoyed, to see the back of Dave Cameron. As, I presume, are large numbers of people who have a genuine interest in West Indies cricket.

But, as Deryck Murray warned in Monday’s Trinidad Express, putting West Indies cricket back where so many of us think it belongs will be no easy task. And one of the key elements in achieving that goal will be getting and keeping the priorities right.

We, the West Indian public, have to be careful not to get so carried away by our joy that we start expecting miracles; the turnaround, if and when it comes, will be slow, perhaps imperceptible during the early stages of the process and probably painful.

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Fortunately for us, Skerritt and Shallow are a couple of practised political hands. They certainly know how important is Caricom’s support. So, I expect that, early on Monday morning, there was contact with, inter alia, Dr Keith Rowley, Dr Keith Mitchell and Dr Ralph Gonsalves. The discussion on the political path forward is a very high priority and must not, as Rowley has publicly noted, be postponed.

Were I in Skerritt’s big boots, my Twitter followers would have been able to see this Monday morning message, addressed to the current West Indies Test captain: “Let not your heart be troubled, @JasonHolder. We have no doubt about what our mandate is and we are certain that it does not extend to determining who captains the various West Indies teams. Eagles do not catch flies.”

Photo: West Indies captain Jason Holder (third from left) and his teammates await a fresh England batsman during their Test win in Barbados.

The reason is that, given the way Skerritt’s predecessor ran things—ask Phil Simmons!—the skipper might well be worrying about job security. But on reflection, Skerritt would never have deemed Twitter to be the appropriate medium for transmitting that albeit necessary, reassuring message; he strikes me as being much too skilful a man manager to make such an error of judgement as to convey important messages à la Donald Trump, the USA’s biggest twit.

My guess is that he has already spoken one-on-one with Holder and reassured him that henceforth it will be hands off. Publicly and privately. Let the skipper decide to make the communication public if he so desires.

Class, we know, is class. But cobo cyar eat sponge cake.

True to arrogant form, on Sunday evening, Dave Cameron had tweeted in part that he remains “committed to serve in the region.” 

There truly are none so blind as those whose ‘I’ simply won’t let them see.

Had Julian Hunte had the effrontery to say anything similar after his 5-7 defeat in 2012, it might well have provoked a tart response from the newly elected Jamaican. He might well have taken to Twitter to tell the former president that he certainly intended to explore the possibility of his serving time somewhere in the region.

But what, were I where Skerritt now sits, would have been my response to Cameron’s Sunday tweet?

Photo: Caricature of former Cricket West Indies (CWI) president Dave Cameron.

Thank you, @DaveCameron, for your many years of service. However, were I in your shoes, I would not wait around for another opportunity to serve West Indies cricket.”

From what we gather from the new 62-year-old President’s campaign, however, unlike the arrogant self-styled ‘trader’ whom we have just given his marching orders, the new man manager whom we have just welcomed with open arms is not likely to put God out of his thoughts and throw public shade at his predecessor.

Saying ‘Good riddance to bad rubbish’ to the clearly departed ex-president would arguably have brought a loud roar of approval from many quarters in the region, maybe muted in Barbados and Guyana. But Skerritt seems like a people person and a cultured gentleman and his clean campaign, sans adhominemism, suggests that he will opt to go high where Cameron’s reflex has been to go low.

Remember the Chris Gayle re-tweet? Remember the haughty response to Dwayne Bravo’s appeal for dialogue that came to him from India? Remember the high-handed handling of Bravo the Younger when he inadvisedly himself went low? The unceremonious sacking of Simmons? Last week’s snide disparagement of the legends? This week’s very public attack on the traitors—he did not use the word but the message is as clear as day—who gave him their word and then voted against him?

But we have turned that page. CWI has turned that Cameron page. The focus is now to be on ensuring that the regional team turns the corner. At last. For real.

But as Murray points out, the new leaders and the CWI now “face a mammoth undertaking” and “have 101 priorities, all of which they should do tomorrow.”

Photo: West Indies batsman Darren Bravo (centre) prepares to sweep during Test action against Pakistan at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi on 22 October 2016.
(Copyright AFP 2017/Aamir Qureshi)

Obviously, that won’t happen. Not tomorrow. Or next week. Or next month. Or even next year.

We in the region can hope for speed but let us not expect it.

Skerritt himself is under no illusions. “We are going to have to ask for patience,” he says.

Referring specifically to the ‘vexatious (…) issue’ of the appointment of the coaching staff for the regional team, the former team manager pulls no punches.

“We have to make sure that they have a Caribbean support team around them,” he says, adding that, “I can’t give you any promises or any anticipation on how soon there will be changes…”

Editor’s Note: See Wired868 for Part Two on 28 March as Earl Best responds to Express editor Garth Wattley’s assertion that former CWI president Dave Cameron was victim of a backstabbing at the presidential election on 24 March.

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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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    Yup. I agree. Everybody is ecstatic to see the back of that arrogant airhead. Better days are coming.

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