Newly elected Cricket West Indies President Ricky Skerritt is under no illusions about the pace at which he will be able to effect change. But is that what he should be worried about? Might there not be other, more pressing concerns that should give him pause?
If Garth Wattley is to be believed, the answer is an emphatic yes. The former CWI director needs to be ever mindful, says he, that people within CWI and without don’t change their ugly habits.
Here is what the Express Sports Editor had to say in his A Different Spin column in Wednesday’s edition of his paper:
“The same persons who set up Cameron,” he writes, “will likely be sitting in the boardroom with Skerritt and Dr Shallow over the next two years, planning the ‘way forward’ for Windies’ (sic) cricket. So if as they say, leopards don’t change their spots, then why should anyone doubt that the intrigue that eventually brought about Dave Cameron’s downfall, won’t (sic) get in the way of Skerritt’s efforts to do the right thing.”
The thinking is even sloppier than the punctuation. Where is the evidence that Cameron was ‘set up’? Whatever happened to ‘voted out’—and, in my view, deservedly so?
Where is the evidence that Cameron was making ‘efforts to do the right thing’, assuming, of course, that the right thing is not making himself into the executive president of a public good?
Why do off-the-table agreements not get styled ‘intrigue’ when Cameron is re-elected but qualify for the pejorative substantive when he gets his ass licked—in quite another sense?
“With a secret ballot in effect, it was easy for the treachery (…) to take place, the knife being plunged into Cameron’s back in the dark of night,” Wattley continues.
Treachery, Mr Wattley? My impression was that the voting representatives were in the meeting to select the candidate(s) best qualified, in the judgement of their boards, to do the job of leading the organisation for the next two years. Clearly I was wrong.
“These men came with a mandate from their boards and associations, we were led to believe.”
Led to believe by whom? Who was it who said publicly that his side had six votes and could not lose? Methinks, Mr Wattley, that it was not Ricky Skerritt.
And how dare you assert, Mr Wattley, without adducing so much as a shred of evidence, that the votes cast were not, as you implicitly conclude, in accordance with the mandate from the respective boards?
The delegates voted as they saw fit and not as each had been instructed to do by his board? Really, Mr Wattley? And all hell has not yet broken loose?
The truth is that I might have been willing to forgive Mr Wattley all those peccadilloes; in my view, however, his conclusion crossed the line.
“It would be a major victory both for him,” he writes of President Skerritt, “and the game if in 2021, the cricket fraternity finds him to be a man of his word.”
The implication is beneath contempt. Perhaps worse. That, however, is a matter for Ricky Skerritt.
And here is something else that belongs on Skerritt’s filled-to-overflowing plate. He has already told us that, under his stewardship, the changes they are a-coming.
So the burning question is this: Will the new brooms sweep clean? And this: How far-reaching are the ones the new pair at the helm are prepared to make?
Skerritt has so far stopped short of committing to implementation of the much ballyhooed Patterson Report. Or of the later Barriteau Report, which recommended the immediate dissolution of the regional umbrella body.
Under his leadership, he said, the CWI will “dust off the 2017 report, which is the most recent summary [of the Patterson and Barriteau reports and several others], and use it as a starting-point to see which of the governance changes (…) we can implement as quickly as possible.”
One such governance change promised by the newly elected leadership partnership during the campaign was a term limit of six years. Cameron’s tenure provides ample evidence of just how much damage can be done to the brand in that time span so, when he was still in charge, that seemed like an attractive proposition. And a necessary one.
But a great deal of successful burnishing of the brand can also take place in six years. And should the new partnership deliver on its promise, it is entirely possible that, in 2025, the West Indian fans will be clamouring for the Skerritt/Shallow tandem not to be put out to pasture. Not yet. At least, not definitively.
So I want to end by warning the good gentlemen now leading us that we shall hold them to their promise. But we also expect them to be so skilful in framing their proposed constitutional and governance changes that we aren’t left with no choice between Romulus and Remus running Rome and the rapacious barbarians/traders at the gate.
Rome, after all, was neither built nor re-built in a day. And, long though six years may seem, it just may not be time enough to complete the massive rebuilding job that lies ahead.
In the end, however, what will determine the enormousness of that task is the size of the two men newly elected to lead us back to cricket’s promised land.
And the fact, Mr Wattley, that the pair are more than likely to prove men of their word.