Open letter to Sir Shridath Ramphal

Fri, Jul 24, '09


WICB Under Scrutiny by Bruce Aanensen (former WICB CEO)

I read with interest this morning the comments of Clive Lloyd and Michael Holding on the website, regarding the current impasse between the WICB and the WIPA.  Several statements made in this article are worth serious consideration.  I refer specifically to the credibility, confidentiality and trustworthiness of WICB Directors, and the vindictiveness of certain WIPA representatives. 
These are matters that require careful analysis by you and your support staff, as I think that the time has come to have certain qualifications established for persons wishing to make themselves available for election to Regional Boards.  Character checks and previous employment history should also be part of the process.  This will ensure that all Directors coming to the WICB from Regional Boards come with the skills and integrity required to serve West Indies cricket.

The statement made by Michael Holding regarding short term solutions is also very valid.  I will join this call and ask that you do NOT seek to address the current impasse in West Indies Cricket and attempt to resolve the “present issues” as articulated by the parties concerned.  These current issues are but a reflection of the underlying fundamental problems that have caused similar standoffs over the years, and will continue to do so if long term solutions are not found.  I would like to suggest, that rather than fill in the cracks, plaster over the top and put a new coat of paint, to make the relationship look new, that you ask for some time to deliver a LONG TERM solution to the problems, and ease the pain of die hard West Indies supporters like myself and many others who are hurting as a result of the present predicament in which we find ourselves.

My suggestions would be to address the following.

  1. Why after recognizing the fact that the structure of the WICB in its existing format has failed West Indies cricket miserably, the board through its former President Ken Gordon, and with the unanimous support of its members installed the PJ Patterson Committee to make recommendations for the restructuring of the Board.  We may not all agree with every aspect of the report and its recommendations, but it was a very good base from which to start and very importantly incorporates the views of the wider WI public who are the people to whom the WICB should be accountable.  Yet this report and its recommendations have been dismissed by the new President and his committee.  Is this acceptable? If not, you should ask the Caricom Heads to analyze this report and make public their views regarding the restructuring of the WICB for the benefit of WI cricket and its supporters.
  2. The MOU signed a few years ago between WICB and WIPA is seriously flawed. I say this since there are clauses in the MOU which virtually give the WIPA the right to VETO decisions made by the WICB in certain situations.  This certainly is not an acceptable situation, as the WICB is the body with the authority to administer WI cricket.  The Lloyd/ Holding report recommends that the WICB reassume control of WI cricket and the use of the Cricket Australia model for guidance.  This recommendation is well worth pursuing and a revised MOU would be the way to achieve this goal.
  3. The Player retainer contracts should be based on what is the acceptable norm for other test playing countries and in this regard samples from Australia, England, South Africa and New Zealand could assist you in determining whether our contracts are reflective of best practices.  The remuneration packages for players should also be based on the industry norm, which I understand in the countries mentioned above, is calculated as a percentage of the gross revenue of the Board.  This I am told ranges between 25% - 30%.  Again, this information is readily available if needed.  In the case of tours outside the FTP there should be an agreed formula to determine how these will be treated.  This will avoid last minute negotiations and threats of strike action. I would suggest that this formula should be part of your mediation process, otherwise future tours of this nature will result in further conflict.
  4. The approved code of conduct needs to be reviewed, and there should be a clear understanding that these standards must be set by the WICB in “discussion” with the WIPA.  Agreement of these standards cannot be a players or WIPA decision.  Again the codes of other test playing countries can be used as a guide.  The WIPA must cease to appear to support unacceptable behavior in any circumstances.  The Regional Boards and the WICB must take positive action once there are breaches of the code.  Good examples of this by other boards are the Flintoff issue in St.Lucia and the recent breaches by Andrew Symonds.

In conclusion, let me again state as Michael Holding did,  that a short term solution is not what is required at this time.  Unless we get to the heart of the problem by restructuring the board and addressing the issues outlined above we will get nowhere.   I see a reconstituted Board with a President, Vice President, ONE representative from each of the six Regional Boards and two (2) past players.  All of these appointees must have the predetermined qualifications for assuming a Director position on the WICB, and must be prepared to have character checks done to ensure that we have only people of impeccable character on the Board who will command the trust and respect of Caribbean cricket followers.

To achieve this ALL existing members MUST step aside in the interest of West Indies cricket.  The WIPA constitution and appointments must also undergo a similar overhaul.  Being the eternal optimist, I will prefer to live in hope rather than die in despair. Please let us use this opportunity to address the problems in a real way rather than again putting plasters on the sores. The West Indian public cannot continue to be embarrassed by these issues. We deserve better. The future of West Indies cricket is in your hands.

* Bruce Aanensen is a former chief executive officer of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB).