Like two man-rat, humility and Jamaican Whycliffe ‘Dave’ Cameron cannot live in the same house. But the now former Cricket West Indies (CWI) President was humbled in his own backyard yesterday.
New Cricket West Indies (CWI) president Ricky Skerritt and his vice-presidential running mate Dr Kishore Shallow both confessed to being ‘humbled’ by yesterday’s victory. Unsurprisingly, no such confession came from the arrogant, cock-sure former president who was indisputably humbled by the eventual 8-4 result.
Cameron and his vanquished vice-presidential running-mate Emmanuel Nanthan, it seems, never used the word in the brief post-cutarse statement they presumably hastily threw together after Skerritt and Shallow convincingly beat them in the CWI presidential elections in Jamaica yesterday.
In the days preceding his surprise ouster, reckless of hubris, Cameron boasted to the world that, as he understood things to stand at the moment: “this means that we can’t lose.”
He had, after all, in Skerritt’s words, ‘called up the Barbados Cricket Association and told them’ which candidate they must vote for. He had also secured the publicly declared backing of both the Windward Islands Cricket Association and the Guyana Cricket Board.
That meant six of a maximum 12 votes were already in the Cameron bag. The Trinidad and Tobago and the Leeward Islands boards having declared for Skerritt and the 35-year-old Shallow, why should Cameron not feel quite confident that he would secure at least one of the two outstanding votes needed to put him over the line?
Was not the board which was keeping its cards close to its chest the one in his home country, Jamaica, to which he had had the good sense and the foresight—if espncricinfo’s information is accurate—to move the annual general meeting and, therefore, the election? Indeed, had not the Jamaicans nominated him to run for re-election? How could he and Nanthan possibly lose?
Besides, no less a person than former West Indies captain Shivnarine Chanderpaul had latterly thrown his not inconsiderable weight behind the 48–year-old incumbent. That move doubtless adequately counterbalanced the momentum the 62-year-old Skerritt had gained from the lightweight support of a trio of legends in former ace pacer Andy Roberts and former captains Clive Lloyd and Sir Viv Richards along with Darren Sammy, Deryck Murray and Roger Harper.
Cameron did not use the word but he is reported to have suggested that the West Indian legends were discredited, pointing out that a handful of them had been given the chance to serve—with underwhelming results.
The former incumbents’ post-licking statement apparently offered no congratulations to the victors. Instead, it listed some of the duo’s achievements in the three terms spent at the helm, including the issue of contracts to 123 players, the recent Test victories over England, the two World T20 titles won in 2013 and 2016 and the ‘fit youthful team’ that is now ‘prepared to face the world’.
Unsurprisingly, there was no mention of the costly walkout of the Dwayne Bravo team in India in late 2014, of the many defeats suffered at the hands of unfancied opponents, of the alienation of so many of the region’s best players or of the contentious sacking of Phil Simmons in 2016.
Nor was there any mention of the recent controversial hiring of former director of cricket Richard Pybus as coach of the regional team. Or of the reportedly huge budget deficit which Skerritt and Shallow will inherit.
The statement also belatedly acknowledged—Messrs Dr Keith Rowley, Dr Ralph Gonsalves and Dr Keith Mitchell of Caricom, please note—the fact that the West Indies team is not Cameron’s or CWI’s and is ‘the region’s most valuable asset’.
So how did Cameron, after 16 years in the regional umbrella body, six of them as president, not see this slap coming? How did four votes mysteriously become eight almost literally overnight?
What is the secret of Skerritt and Shallow’s success? Did the representatives who almost ritually re-elected the Jamaican even after the India debacle suddenly grow cojones?
Well, not quite. In his column in today’s Express, headlined ‘BOAT runs aground’, Fazeer Mohammed points to the egotism of the ex-president and his public disparaging of the living legends, to which we have already referred. There is a case to be made for that as a contributory factor but, operationally, the secret was just that: a secret ballot.
One does not need quite as much testicular fortitude when the ballot is not open to general scrutiny.
Espncricinfo reports its ‘understanding’ that ‘before the elections began on Sunday, one of the two representatives from TTCB raised a motion to conduct the voting through a secret ballot. It received majority support, thus deepening the mystery over who exactly voted for Cameron or Skerritt’.
What is certainly not a mystery to anyone with first-hand experience of how these things work is the secret negotiations behind the scenes, the secret telephone calls on secure lines, the secret assurances asked for and given before the Trini representative dared to make his secret ballot proposal in yesterday’s meeting.
Let me open a parenthesis to say here that I have never been happy with the way Azim Bassarath and his crew do things in the TTCB. I am, however, sorely tempted to publicly appeal to Dinanath Ramnarine and Daren Ganga and Zaheer Ali and company to hold their horses—and perhaps their noses—and hand AB and company re-election unopposed.
After all, we can all understand the concept of the greater good, can’t we? And seeing the back of a would-be tyrant who harboured designs, if Skerritt’s warnings and the evidence of our own eyes and ears are to be believed, of making himself an executive president. Officially.
But I’m not sure we should crow too early; campaign and other promises—as anyone who has lived in Trinidad and Tobago since Patrick Manning revoked Rowley’s appointment knows only too well—are the easy part.
‘As we take over the reins of the WICB’, Cameron told the listening region in 2012 when he beat then outgoing president Julian Hunte 7-5 to take over the helm of the then WICB, ‘we assume responsibility with very lofty goals in our minds and the understanding of the reason we are here and what everybody in the region is looking forward to us being able to accomplish’.
Skerritt too talks good talk—Shallow less so, in my view—but can he, can they walk the walk?
Sometimes, as Rowley and his PNM have been finding out to their cost since November 2015, victory can be a no less bitter pill to swallow than defeat.