ST. JOHN’S, Antigua – The West Indies Cricket Board has welcomed its meeting with the CARICOM Committee on Cricket Governance this coming Monday in Grenada.
All 18 directors of the WICB including President Whycliffe “Dave” Cameron and Vice President Emmanuel Nanthan, along with Chief Executive Officer Michael Muirhead and Corporate Secretary Verlyn Faustin will meet with the CARICOM Committee at the Silver Sands Beach Resort.
“This will be a big opportunity for us to fortify our relationship with CARICOM,” said WICB Chief Executive Officer Michael Muirhead.
“We believe that the governments of the Caribbean are among the group of key stakeholders in West Indies cricket and we want to engage them on some of the critical matters relating to the advancement of the sport in the region.”
The two sides will discuss: (1) reform and governance of West Indies Cricket; (2) matters with the Board of Control for Cricket in India over the aborted West Indies Tour of India last year; and (3) the relationship between the CARICOM Committee on Cricket Governance and the WICB.
Grenada Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Keith Mitchell will chair the meeting, which will also be attended by Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie, the current CARICOM chairman; Antigua & Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne, chairman of the CARICOM Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on Cricket; and St. Vincent & the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.
The meeting will be staged on the eve of the second Test between West Indies and England which starts the following day at the National Cricket Stadium. The three-Test series is level 0-0 after the first Test ended in a draw on Friday at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground.
Same island, different ground, same result. Six years ago West Indies defied England nine down at the Recreation Ground in Antigua, after the Test was shifted due to the dangerous outfield at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, with Darren Powell and Fidel Edwards surviving 10 tension-filled overs on the historic ground. This time the last-wicket pair were not needed as Jason Holder, a 23-year-old on whom so much rests for the future of West Indies cricket, produced an outstanding display of maturity in scoring a maiden first-class hundred in an innings spanning 216 minutes and 149 balls, and with help from Denesh Ramdin and Kemar Roach hauled the team to safety.
James Anderson prized out the seventh wicket shortly before the start of the final hour, finding Ramdin's edge to first slip with a classical leg-cutter, to make him England's leading Test wicket-taker, overtaking Ian Botham's 383 scalps having gone level with Botham during the morning session when Marlon Samuels edged to gully. It broke a stand of 105, leaving England 18 overs to take the final three wickets, but they could not get past the sturdy defence and big hearts of Holder and Roach.
"Do you know who's that?" I asked 'the Great One', as I pulled from my wall, a 1970 schoolboy team photo. The occasion was back in 1981, when Sir. Vivian visited Mandeville in Manchester, Jamaica for an invitational cricket match. "Yes," said Viv with a chuckle. "That's Mikey."
"Whom do you rate as the fastest?" I went on. "Mikey is kinda quick," reluctantly came the response. Viv, even with pads-off, is parsimonious in giving bowlers credit. Just in case, they meet again, and he's confronted with the same man, charging in with his tail up.
Conversely, and in his book Whispering Death, Holding describes Richards, as "a batting genius, with three different strokes, for every ball".
These two gentlemen, obviously have, and enjoy, mutual respect. But on the matter of solving West Indies cricket problems, both are walking distinctly different paths. And it's not only because in their professional lives, they now have different roles.
Sir Vivian is more intimately involved in West Indies cricket, having last managed the West Indies A team to Sri Lanka. And today, he's taking great pride in having had a hand in the development of yesterday's West Indies batting hero - Jermaine Blackwood. "I definitely believe we have the kind of individual we are looking for in terms of someone who can hold down a spot in the middle order for West Indies where Test cricket is concerned," it was reported in today's (April 16th), Jamaica Gleaner, of Blackwood 'the king' was said to have said.
Contrast this forward-thinking view, to the one by the former West Indies fast bowler, as reported in the April 6th issue of the Guyana Chronicle. "Against England, with so many players out of the team, they do not stand a ghost of a chance. That's the honest truth," was Holding's latest take.
And what of the West Indies cricket administration?
"There is a lot of work that needs to be done in terms of camaraderie that breathes success," Sir Viv concedes. "But, there is a duty as players, in terms of what they are representing, the package of the region itself that comes into play, but I just believe at times, that has become pretty negative," the Master-Blaster lamented in the April 15th edition of The Trinidad Guardian.
On the other hand, like a rag in a dog's mouth, Holding is not letting up on his criticism of the West Indies Cricket Board. "The board is muddling from one fiasco to another, and now we have the Indian fiasco hanging over their heads," he reminded. This seems to suggest that in Holding's mind, it is the WICB which is solely, or preponderantly, to blame, for the US$42 million Sword of Damocles hanging over the WICB's heads. On that score, the jury is yet to retire.
"It's no surprise that the players have no respect for their employers, and as a result they are showing no commitment," was Holding's parting-shot, in the Guyana Chronicle report.
But, where did I either read or hear somewhere in a World Cup post mortem, that, if some West Indies players are unhappy playing for the West Indies, that they should do themselves a favor, and seek or find, employment elsewhere?
Folks, I'm only a little-man. And lending support to one school of thought or the other, is above my pay-grade.
I can only comment on the ongoing written commentary, as it unfolds. As the wise saying in Jamaica goes, "Neva faas, inna big-people business". Let the two elephants rumble!
England toiled hard to extract two of the ten wickets they hunted for victory in the opening Test on a dying surface, gaining a huge lift late in the day courtesy of a breathtaking slip catch from Chris Jordan, after leaving West Indies a target of 438 or 130 overs to survive. Devon Smith and Darren Bravo had looked on course to bat throughout the final session before the intervention of Joe Root and Jordan, but the home side retained hope of being able to withstand the final day.
The first two sessions went almost perfectly to plan for England as they scored comfortably to set up the declaration which came half an hour before tea. Gary Ballance's fourth hundred in nine Tests, which came from 233 balls, banished doubts over his form following a difficult period in the one-day side and Jos Buttler's brisk half-century helped propel the latter stages of the innings.
Sir Viv, one of the greatest batsmen of all time, was speaking on the 29th anniversary of his world record 56-ball century against England at the Antigua Recreational Ground.
He was on hand to see Blackwood score his maiden Test match century, an unbeaten 112, on the third day of the opening Test here yesterday.
"He reminds me sort of a guy like Collis King, a kind of batsman with that wonderful natural ability who can play the big, strong shots, but can also bat you out of a difficult situation," Sir Viv said.