Cricket West Indies President Whycliffe Dave Cameron is not a dictator. He would arguably like to be a dictator and probably even sees himself as a dictator. But, according to former West Indies team manager Ricky Skerritt, Cameron is NOT a dictator.
That is what the CWI presidential hopeful told a modest crowd at the The UWI’s Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination on the Cave Hill Campus in Barbados yesterday.
Skerritt and his St Vincent and the Grenadines running mate Dr Kishore Shallow had invited the media and the public to hear them present their manifesto to members of the Barbados Cricket Association. Also invited were other interested stakeholders with an interest in the elections for CWI president, carded for March 24 in Jamaica, along with representatives of the regional media.
Cameron and current vice-president Emmanuel Nanthan, first elected in 2013, will be seeking re-election for a third consecutive time while Skerritt and Shallow—both current CWI members and former cabinet ministers in their home countries—are seeking to put their expertise at the service of the region by seizing the helm of the regional body.
Responding to a declaration by a female member of the audience that the current CWI president was a dictator, Skerritt demurred.
Cameron, he said, “had dictatorial tendencies.” The response sent a titter through the hall, the audience understanding the tacit message that the almost 48-year-old incumbent was incapable of getting even that right.
Not surprisingly, the audience warmly welcomed repeated suggestions that they were not happy with what Cameron and company have been doing with West Indies cricket.
In response to an earlier question about whether he favoured an executive presidency, the 50-year-old Skerritt informed the audience that Cameron effectively become an executive president but his preferred style was entirely democratic.
Carefully avoiding the appearance of ad hominemism, he argued that the CWI Constitution provided for a CEO and a whole range of other officers answerable to the Board. However, he suggested, the current president stretches the constitutional powers conferred on him to the point where he is the effective CEO. And several other things besides. And many of those officers see themselves as answerable to the President.
Still, in response to the later question, Skerritt insisted that Cameron is not a dictator. It seemed to be a thinly veiled side swipe at the members of the territorial boards who have gutlessly re-elected Cameron even after his demonstrable lack of concern for the best interests of West Indies cricket.
Skerritt might well have repeated Cassius’ ex-ante facto defence of Julius Caesar in Shakespeare’s play of the same name: “Poor man! I know he would not be a wolf but that he sees the Romans are but sheep.”
To underline the contrast in styles, the would-be president reminded the audience that he had requested a meeting with the BCA with a view to presenting the pair’s manifesto and plans for the future. In contrast, the current president had merely called up the BCA “and told them who to vote for.”
Two themes recurred throughout the question and answer session that followed on the presentation of a ten-point plan by the hosts. The first was governance and the democratisation of cricket administration and the second cricket as a “public good.”
On the first issue, Skerritt reminded the gathering that a handful of studies had already been carried out into how the West Indies Board’s operations might usefully be adjusted. Almost all had recommended that major surgery was necessary and at least one of the more recent ones had proposed the “immediate dissolution” of the entity.
All are currently gathering dust in some office somewhere.
Skerritt added that an internal committee had recently secured permission to review all of these reports and submit its recommendation.
Their report too has provoked no measurable reaction from CWI officialdom but silence.
Skerritt suggested—without quite saying so in words—that West Indies cricket has been hijacked for the benefit of a select few. Saying that CWI will benefit from increased revenues in 2019 to the tune of some US$20m, he noted that of the additional US$6m in proposed expenditure US$1.3 or US$1.4 has been allocated to administration.
It was a sum, he implied, that could not be justified.
“CWI,” he had said in an earlier interview, “has lost its focus on cricket.”
The in-house audience included former West Indies opener Philo Wallace, well-known cricket commentator Andrew Mason and the father of Barbados cricket captain Shamarh Brooks, all three of whom posed questions to the candidates.
The near three-hour session was jointly moderated by Mr David Ellis and Miss Amanda Reifer, who heads the Cave Hill Academy of Sport and was charged with the responsibility of voicing the online questions.
Prior to last evening’s session, three regional boards had already declared their intention to support the incumbents. And by the end of the session, the region was no closer to answering the question about whether—after the results come in on March 24—Skerritt and Shallow, whose occasional interventions yesterday were unmemorable, will have garnered enough support to have a say in what West Indies cricketers will do in the two years ahead.
Or whether Cameron and Nanthan will still be around to continue to dictate the pace of CWI and West Indies cricket.