Why not Dave Cameron?

So when will the foolishness stop? Why are so many people trying so hard to prove hypocrisy afflicts only small islanders? I am referring to the call for the removal of Dave Cameron as president of WICB. I don’t have a problem with anyone calling for the president’s head, but to do so when it is well known it was the players who wanted no longer to continue playing is simply ridiculous.

It would be unreasonable for anyone to pretend Dave Cameron has done everything right. But is he the worst we’ve seen? Some of his most vociferous critics have said he did not show leadership during the India fiasco, while others said he should have done things differently.

If what they mean by showing leadership or doing things differently is going to India and agreeing to pay the rebelling players US$35,000 per match day, then they really have no idea what leadership or industrial relations are all about. Some have also said Cameron’s arrogance led to the cancelling of the tour. I don’t know that. But this I do know: After receiving the first letter of complaint, Dave Cameron called Bravo and asked to speak to the entire team via Skype.

Bravo turned him down. Yep, you read that correctly. I also know that both the WICB and WIPA were scheduled to go to India to address the very issues raised in Bravo’s letter but had to cancel the trip because Bravo and his followers were not prepared to wait for their arrival.

Ironically, most of the damning comments seem to be coming from people of a certain political ideology. They are the same people who say the previous board was the best thing ever to happen to West Indies Cricket. Just when I thought Ralph Gonsalves, Ralph Thorne and Pat Rosseau would be the last to shove their over-sized boots into their big mouths, we heard from a Morning Rumble caller on 6 February, 2015 who sounded every bit like the former WICB CEO. That same familiar voice had called the program a few days earlier and responded to the name Ernest Hilaire.

Incumbent Dave Cameron (pictured) and challenger Joel Garner will contest the elections for president of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), at the annual general meeting carded for March 7.

Incumbent Dave Cameron (pictured) and challenger Joel Garner will contest the elections for president of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), at the annual general meeting carded for March 7.

After hearing from these four prominent individuals, I was left with no doubt that they were all suffering from an advanced case of Need to Feel Important Syndrome. In an earlier article, I articulated why I thought the board was not responsible for what happened in India. I will attempt now to make a comparison of the modus operandi of Dave Cameron’s board and that led by Julian Hunte and Ernest Hilaire. However, permit me first to quickly respond to Pat Rosseau’s call for Dave Cameron’s resignation.

By the way where does Rosseau get the moral authority to ask anyone to resign? Wasn’t he the president of the board when the first major strike by a West Indian team took place in 1998? A strike that was wholly avoidable mind you. As I recall, Jimmy Adams—a fellow-Jamaican—was the then Secretary of WIPA. The West Indies was on a similar tour of India, with South Africa to follow, by way of England.

We subsequently learned from Adams that negotiations for the South African tour were protracted, as had been the case for many other earlier tours. The players made it clear to the board that they were tired of touring without related contracts. The WICB was told: “If when we get to England negotiations for South Africa are not completed, we will not travel.’’
The board agreed that negotiations would be completed in time. The next thing we knew half the team ended up in South Africa and the rest in a London hotel. Everyone connected to the tour was royally embarrassed, including President Nelson Mandela. Rather than admit his board messed up, Rosseau fired Brian Lara and Carl Hooper on the spot, only to reinstate them two days later. Today, that same Pat Rosseau is calling for Dave Cameron to step down.

With a team configured as is the West Indies, it is to be expected there will from time to time be challenges, especially financial challenges. The WICB has for many years been operating in the red and might have collapsed but for an accommodating bank. It was not until Digicel came on board, and the hosting of the 2007 World Cup, that its financial situation improved somewhat.

When Hunte became president and was later joined by Hilaire, we witnessed a trend in West Indies cricket never before seen and which may never again be seen. Over and over again the WICB was taken to court by WIPA, for pretty much the same things. It lost every case brought against it and had to fork out millions in costs and compensation. The last case saw the WICB having to pay Ramnaresh Sarwan over seven hundred thousand dollars. None of the canaries now condemning Dave Cameron considered it was embarrassing for a board to lose so many court cases in a row and still remain in office.

When Allan Stanford came up with the idea of having West Indies play against England for US$20 mi llionwinner takes all, Digicel immediately cried foul and reminded the board that Digicel owns the rights to the West Indies team and therefore the WICB could not pass on those rights. Not even the threat of taking the matter to court could get the board to change its mind.
I’m told that advice given to the WICB by at least two prominent individuals against allowing the matter to go to court fell on deaf ears. I guess by now we all know what happened: Digicel took the WICB to court and won. Again I don’t remember hearing calls for resignations.

Although the WICB appeared to have been let off lightly when Digicel only asked for costs, it seemed to have paid a far greater price. For the next 3-4 years thereafter, it could not attract a single sponsor for any of its three regional competitions. Many are of the view that prospective sponsors were discouraged by the WICB’s behavior.

Having succeeded Hunte, Cameron made it clear to all and sundry that Emmanuel Nanton, his vice president, would assume responsibility for cricketing matters and he (Cameron) would take on the finance portfolio. Finding money for the WICB’s various programs was a priority for him. He also made clearer what already was obvious: the WICB was broke.
Cameron also disclosed that his board intended to improve the standard and status of regional cricketers by introducing a Professional League/Franchise System. If memory serves, I think I first heard about this Professional League from Ernest Hilaire, and I commended his board for the idea. Cameron also indicated this initiative would call for a lot of money, but there was no sponsorship for it. This, dear reader, is where it all started. This is what has led to all the criticisms you are now hearing and reading about Dave Cameron.

Let us now revisit some of the decisions made by the incumbent and see how he measures up against his predecessor. In 2013 the BCCI invited the West Indies to play a couple of test matches and three ODI’s outside of the future tours program, as a farewell event for Sachin Tendulkar. These matches were to be played just before the West Indies’ scheduled tour of New Zealand. The WICB had two options; (1) Turn down the offer and incur the expense of a preparation camp which would further deplete its already empty coffers. (2) Accept the offer and the players get to play against proper opposition in preparation for New Zealand. They get paid handsomely and the board gets some much needed income in the process. It’s a win/win situation Terry. The board got India to pay for its preparation camp and received some money at the same time, plain and simple.

In 2014 the WICB finally agreed to a proposal by the leading members of the ICC that virtually allows India, Australia and England to control that organization. This decision was and still remains unpopular, but because of the money the other boards stand to get for supporting it, we can understand why they did. Perhaps if previous WICB’s had managed their finances better, we might have been in a better position to resist the final outcome.

For over three years and not for want of trying mind you, the previous board could not get WIPA to sign a new CBA/MOU. Almost immediately upon assuming office, the rhetoric from the incumbent CEO suggested that relations between WIPA and WICB were improving. There was so much cooperation between WIPA and WICB that for almost a year we heard nothing about WIPA. By October 2014 and after the big guns were already in India, the new CBA/MOU was signed by the two parties in Jamaica. As I understand it, Central Tour Contracts flow from the CBA/MOU and those contracts cannot be sent to the players for endorsement unless first perused and agreed to by WIPA.

It is also my understanding that during its negotiations with WIPA, the WICB had proposed to WIPA that the Image Rights Fees for the elite players be used to finance the newly contracted franchise players. In return the board would increase their match fees and retainer contracts. That proposal was agreed to by WIPA. However, from all indications, it appears Wavell Hinds, (WIPA President), did not discuss the changes to the pay structure as widely and in as much detail with the elite players as he should have. Simply put, Bravo and company had a grouse with their union, not the WICB.

Despite the fact that the new agreement saw significant increases in match fees for all three versions of the game, despite significant increases in their retainer contracts, despite the fact that the WICB gives them permission to play in T20 tournaments all over the world, despite the fact that they earn the lion’s share of their income in India, Bravo and his followers decided the tour of India would end abruptly if they did not get US$35,000.00 per match day, on top of all what they were being paid for the tour. These are the same players who have kept the West Indies firmly anchored at the bottom of the ICC rankings.

I can understand why most St. Lucians blame Dave Cameron for all that has happened. It’s quite easy actually! They are bitterly disappointed that Dr. Julian Hunte, Dr. Ernest Hilaire and Darren Sammy are no longer at the helm of West Indies cricket. What I don’t understand and what I find rather disingenuous, is the suggestion by the former CEO that the board should not have stood up to the players on the Indian tour, and that it should have gone back to the old pay structure, in order to avoid the action taken by the players. Now what makes someone in their right mind say something like that? Isn’t standing up to the players what the previous board is best known for? Does the goodly gentleman not know that going back to the old pay structure would effectively breach the contracts signed with the 90 franchise players?

Listening to Dwayne Bravo’s comments on the CPL I am now convinced that the tour of India ended for one reason and one reason only, GREED. Dwayne Bravo had the gall to say ‘’I don’t mind the first class players being better paid, but not at our expense.’’ At whose expense should it be Dwayne?

Prior to the start of the CPL not one first class player dared face a bank for a loan. Yet just about every elite West Indian player who has been playing for the last five years or more is a millionaire, whilst the board remains broke. That comment by Dwayne Bravo suggests he and his friends have no genuine interest in seeing the other players improve. As far as they are concerned, the longer these players remain underdeveloped, the longer the selectors will be forced to stick with the likes of him.

At the risk of sounding like I hold a brief for Dave Cameron and his board, let me highlight two more points to show the difference between the two boards and why the incumbent was right to change the pay structure and not renegotiate it. Alistair Cook, Ian Bell, James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Ravi Bopara, just to name a few, are English players who played List A cricket against Darren Ganga, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Sammy, Devon Smith and Lendel Simmons, to name a few. All the English players mentioned are now established international cricketers with enviable records, except Bopara who doesn’t play tests.

Cook has already scored 25 test hundreds and 5 ODI tons, compared to Lendel Simmons who has only played 8 test matches with a highest score of 49. Dave Cameron is trying to do something about that, yet his detractors believe he should be hanged without trial.

In 2011it was alleged that Chris Gayle made some remarks about two board officials. He was not on retainer contract at the time. Before you knew it, he was removed from the team, without a disciplinary hearing. Gayle has seemingly committed a similar offence once again during the just completed tour of South Africa. When asked about the incident in a recent television interview, Dave Cameron revealed that Gayle has a date with the WICB’s Disciplinary Committee. Just like 2011, he is not now on retainer contract either. How then can the same offence be handled so differently by the two boards? Could it be because executive members of the WICB do not sit on the Disciplinary Committee?


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