THE BEST WICB BOARD EVER?

WICB president Julian Hunte

In 1984 a very strict but fair national cricket coach, in trying to make a point to the St Lucia National Cricket team on discipline, stated the following: “when you get selected on the national team, you become a child of the authorities.” Quite naturally his charges did not take it too kindly, as they obviously felt they were “big men.” Taken in its proper context, I dare say the coach was right, at least partially. After all, they were there at the invitation of the authorities, and had to follow rules.
If we were to apply this principle to the cricketers who play at the whim and fancy of the WICB (the authority), the principle still holds. It is implied that while the players are within the remit of the WICB, there would be at least a modicum of a father/child relationship. All things being equal, one hopes this relationship would be a healthy and mutually respectful one as well.
At the risk of stepping on some toes, let me say it was St Paul in his letter to the Ephesians (chapter 6 verse 1) who said the following: “children obey your parents in the Lord; for this is right.” Wise preacher St Paul was, three verses later he also admonished fathers accordingly: “and ye fathers provoke not your children to anger . . .” Again if we were to apply this biblical instruction for father/child relations to the WICB and its relationship with the players, the verse might as well be read like this: “and ye fathers provoke your children to anger.”
Contrary to what a number of uninformed, misguided, hear-no-evil, see-no-evil fans may think, I hold no brief for Chris Gayle. I never wanted the guy as captain of the West Indies team. Notwithstanding, there is a principle involved here, and that is what I stand for. Had it been Darren Sammy who was treated that way by an earlier board, my position would be the same. In fact I would make even more noise.             And yes, I disagree with some of what Chris Gayle said in his KLAS interview. However, did Gayle disobey his WICB parents? Did the WICB provoke Gayle to anger? Was it Gayle who fired the first salvo in this ongoing fight? Is it not true that this board has provoked players to anger more than any other?
On Friday March 9, 2012 a regular caller to RCI’s Morning Rumble posited the view that the Julian Hunte board is the best we’ve had to date. When I heard the comment by my learned friend, my immediate reaction was, by what standard did he arrive at that conclusion?
Dear reader, allow me to take you through a history of some of the unfortunate events in West Indies cricket starting from 1978 to now. Notice the time lines and the manner in which they have been handled and you decide for yourself whether “Sookou” was right, whether this board is unfairly getting a bad rap from me, or whether they are guilty as charged.
In 1978—and I deliberately chose that year for two reasons: 1. That was the year we had the first major crisis in West Indies cricket since I began following International Cricket. 2. Julian Hunte was already on the board at that time and is still there today. In fact the only time he has not been Vice President or President since he first got onboard, was when he served as St Lucia’s Ambassador to the United Nations, and maybe a year or two after his tour of duty.
Even after he’d been appointed ambassador, Hunte was willing to accept the presidency of WICB.         Surprised? I can safely tell you that everyone who served with Julian Hunte at the beginning of his tenure on the board, has either died or moved on, but he has remained there for over 30 years, as if the WICB was one of the subsidiary companies in his JRH Group of Companies.
In 1978 the Kerry Parker version of the IPL had lured the majority of our first team test players to Australia in the middle of a test series against Australia played in the West Indies. Back then teams hardly played more than two series in a year, so although the players stayed out for a year they didn’t miss much cricket. In fact the Jeffrey Stollmeyer board resolved what was potentially a back breaking crisis in such quick time, that all the players were back in time for the 1979 World Cup in England. And we won.
In 1983 the South African lobby to return to International Cricket after the ban by the ICC saw a band of talented West Indian cricketers led by Lawrence “Yaga” Rowe disembarking in South Africa in violation of that ban. Quite naturally the board was incensed by the action of the players who they felt “sold their birthright for a bowl of soup” and issued indefinite bans accordingly.
I must tell you, dear reader, that other countries, whose players proceeded on similar tours were only banned for one or two years at the most. Truth be told, by the time the English came to the West Indies  in 1986, the sentence had already been lifted and Ezra Mosley, who was one of the offending players, was able to resume his career against England, if only for a short time.
From 1986 to November 1999, (some thirteen years), we witnessed a period of almost total calm and peace in WICB player relations despite changes in board personnel, including the president. Come November 1999 after the tour to India, the team was supposed to regroup in England and proceed to South Africa for our first tour since their reinstatement to International Cricket.
As it turned out half of
the team deplaned in
South Africa and the
other half remained in England. And so the first official players strike by a modern day West Indian team had taken place.
The debate back then was much the same as it is now. Some people blamed the players some blamed the WICB. It was like a boxing match. It’s amazing how quickly and conveniently some people can change though. Some who were in the blue corner at the time are now firmly in the red corner. The Pat Rosseau board moved quickly and fired Captain Brian Lara and his deputy Carl Hooper, as they were perceived to be the ring leaders.  What you may not know dear reader is that negotiations for that ill fated tour to South Africa started in India. WIPA, yes WIPA, no Ramnarine yet mind you, had told the WICB that they were tired of having to go on tours without finalizing agreements for these tours.
They further stated that if by the time they were ready to leave England for South Africa negotiations were not completed, they would not travel. I need not tell you that the WICB agreed, only to renege. Consequently we had our third major crisis in West Indies cricket for the period under review. As bizarre as it may sound, within a matter of days and after a plea from President Nelson Mandella, the tour got underway, with Lara and Hooper reinstated.
Needless to say, the board was wrong to take such action against messrs Lara and Hooper without a trial. They were never brought before a disciplinary committee and given a hearing before being sacked. (At this juncture I am reminded of the Ausbert Regis case). Whether Mr Rosseau realized he was wrong or not, he nonetheless successfully resolved another embarrassing moment in West Indies cricket.
Since 1999 we have seen and heard of a number of industrial actions taken by the players whether threatened or actual.
There has been at least three other player strikes since then, one of them presided over by the current board. Their response on that occasion was unavoidable which is not to say the whole thing was not, but I’m afraid dear reader, this is where this current board’s dispensation of grace ends.
From the time Julian Hunte became President of the WICB, we have seen the same type of arrogance he displayed in getting the SLP to dump Armstrong Alexis, the endorsed candidate who beat Earl Huntley fair and square in a run-off in favour of him?
The same arrogance that did not allow him to accept congratulations from Peter Josie and Lawson Calderon, after they challenged him for the leadership of the SLP. As if his arrogance was not enough, he soon sent for his “hired gun” Ernest Hilaire’ if I may paraphrase Ernest Hilaire, after listening to him on Friday March 9, 2012 on the Morning Rumble. You have seen the various crises we’ve had prior to the arrival of this lot and how quickly and amicably they were resolved.
How come this board cannot settle this little matter of Chris Gayle? Let us look at a series of events and the attitudes displayed, and see why there will always be “fire on the mountain.”
First of all the WICB committed a cardinal sin when it hired a CEO who, prior to becoming CEO, was a vociferous critic of previous boards and players, namely; the Teddy Griffith and Ken Gordon boards, Chris Gayle and Ramnaresh Sarwan, respectively.
From all indications it appears Hilaire was given instructions to shoot first and ask for apologies later.  Having said Gayle should not be on the team and looking at the manner in which the issue has been handled by Hilaire, how can anybody believe he was not a man on a mission?
In June 2011, Ernest was sent to a meeting in Jamaica with Chris Gayle to accomplish one thing and one thing only, to get Gayle to explain the comments he made in a radio interview. Here are some excerpts of what was said at that meeting and see why I said, Hilaire is not the man for the job.
Meeting Between the WICB and Mr Christopher Henry Gayle, June 14, 2011:
“Chris Gayle raised the issue of being threatened by Ernest Hilaire when he Ernest Hilaire sent him a contract for the 2011 World Cup. Chris indicated that he was in Australia at the time and he wanted to know if WIPA had agreed to this contract and requested that these documents be sent to WIPA so that he can be properly advised. As a result of that request, Ernest responded by informing Gayle that if he did not sign the agreement by Monday at 4:30pm he Ernest would instruct the selectors to pick another player.”
Can you believe that dear reader? But that’s not all. “The CEO further stated that he does not have to send any agreements to WIPA and he will not be doing so.
Mr Ramnarine who was present at the meeting pointed out in the Collective Bargaining Agreement where the WICB was required to do so.” So, was Ernest acting on his own? Was he being insubordinate?
“Mr Ramnarine at one point, early in the proceedings, had asked Ernest Hilaire to ameliorate what some might consider to be a belligerent tone and aggressive manner in which he, Hilaire, spoke as he felt that a different atmosphere would be more conducive to a successful meeting.”
“However, it was shortly after that very mild advice from Mr Ramnarine that Ernest Hilaire made the accusation that the reason for the breakdown of the 2011 World Cup negotiations was that Mr Ramnarine was attempting to get funds that should ordinarily go to the players paid into a separate account . . . ”
What a load of BS? Dear reader can you see why this useless to and fro is going on ad infinitum? Hilaire obviously had no interest in having a successful meeting. He knew if he did and Chris Gayle satisfactorily explained his comments, Gayle, might be reinstated. He was having none of that. You were sent to accomplish one little task, get Chris Gayle to explain why he said what he said, and you end up falsely accusing Ramnarine regarding money and chair?
“Ernest Hilaire strongly disagreed with Mr Gayle asking for correspondence to be copied to his representative. He insisted that he will continue to write directly to the players despite the request from Mr Gayle and the legal obligations of the WICB and the Board’s course of dealings in such matters.”                 What is wrong with this guy? Do we have to support this kind of behavior just because Ernest is a St Lucian? Yet some moron will tell me I don’t like to support my fellow St Lucians. Is the WICB aware of what Hilaire is doing or do they simply approve of it? Sookou, are you still convinced that this is the best board?
“At the end of the meeting when asked about Mr Gayle’s reinstatement or consideration to be selected to the team, Ernest Hilaire said that Mr Gayle’s consideration for selection would depend on the outcomes of several meetings to be convened in the future between the CEO and the Board of Directors, the CEO and the Management of the WICB, and the CEO and the Selectors. Ernest Hilaire declined to provide any time-frame for the process to be implemented and concluded.” Are you kidding me? Has any player ever been treated like that before?
Remember dear reader, Ernest Hilaire is on record as saying before all of this, “if he had his way, Chris Gayle would not be on the side.”
I do not believe that Gayle wants to play for the West Indies any longer because if he did he would have bowed to the board’s demand, if only in pretense. But don’t be fooled either, the WICB doesn’t want Gayle on the team. Their actions have shown that and more.
Funny enough the two guys, Hilaire and Gibson, who most want to see the back of Chris Gayle are themselves the most thoughtless.
Here is what Gibson had to say when West Indies lost to England in a quarter-final match in the 2011 World Cup. “I am not sure whether some of the senior players may not have played their last game for the West Indies.”
The man had publicly threatened the careers of Gayle and company.  It never occurred to Gibson that the same week we got knocked out, three other teams which were all ranked higher than the West Indies at the time, all went home as well, namely; Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.
No one heard a word from their coaches. Recently when England got whitewashed by India in an ODI series, coach Andy Flower had this to say: “I take full responsibility for this result, the selection decisions I made may not have been the best and probably contributed to this result.” Wow! That is how a coach who is worth his salt behaves.
Dear reader, I could go on and on with this, but there’s no need. I think by now you’ve gotten the point. I sincerely hope that those who think they are more
patriotic than I or think they love cricket more than I, will soon realize that what they are really doing when they call evil good, is applauding the “emperor’s  new clothes” when in fact he is butt naked.

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