The Change for West Indies Cricket

KINGSTON, December 30 – When Whycliffe ‘Dave’ Cameron realised he had to mount a campaign to former President, Julian Hunte, he assembled a team which created a number of tools to see his way into his presidency in 2013. Cameron who had previously served on the Board of Directors of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) since 2002, was criticized in some circles for being a part of the slip of the fortunes. Cameron has expressed his views on that publicly and now in the seat, intends as he has been to lead the WICB and the Cricket into building and framing an industry.

The licensed financial broker has been around the sport for some three decades serving at several levels as a player, administrator, planner and marketer. He has academic training at the graduate and post graduate levels in Hotel Management and Management Information Systems respectively.

I have offered to present some background before I delve into the points of CHANGE.

WIPA and WICB 

When Cameron took office he mentioned his intentions to foster a more harmonious relationship with the players association as it would help in his bid to realign the Human Resource Management status of the players fraternity. His ideas would include effective leadership, inter-personal relationships and better communication generally. This resulted for example in a WICB/WIPA – annual awards, held jointly for the first time in July 2013 in T&T; that event was jointly hosted again in Kingston in July this year. In October, an elite team building tour was held and was against done in collaboration with WIPA and WICB. That team tour focused on boardroom and off the pitch activities aimed at building better rapport with management and players.

Since those events other initiatives have been pursued and the four-day professional tournament now on is another result of collaboration with WIPA and WICB. In September 2014, an ESPN Cric Info headline “WICB WIPA sign new agreement – ending years of bitter dispute… http://www.espncricinfo.com/westindies/content/story/782193.html

In a Gleaner article in October – WICB endorses WIPA http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20141016/sports/sports4.html

Dave Cameron

Close to us in the United States, the player associations while clear about their roles are created with the aim to foster relationships to the benefit of the game, and except for the fourth lockout in the NBA’s history in 2011, the player association works with the NBA on common goals. That lockout incidentally was about salaries – the structure and the division of revenue – sounds familiar? With a canceled pre-season, the league games were reduced from 82 to 66. The losses were in TV broadcast rights and fans were cheated. is that equivalent to abandoning a tour? You answer.

What was evident though is the negotiation which included the players association and the parent body which ended in the game being the winner. So the question here is, when and how can West Indies Cricket win? I should also point out that at no time a politician got involved. David Stern, the NBA Commissioner at the time along with Derek Fisher and his team from the players association handled the matter. How then can the cricket fraternity manage its affairs in a way that cricket will win.

The NBA’s rules regarding players though makes it more reasonable for players and their affairs to be managed and I am asserting that maybe the Caribbean outfit should adopt a few rules of which some commercial-minded ones be included. For example, if you have intention to play for the elite team, you must at least have one year at a college/university. Since 2006, the NBA no longer drafts high school students – they must go to College. That rule should apply in cricket and maybe some of the quality issues we have with commitment, concentration, dedication and even general understanding of the game would create an environment which players are better able to adopt to a professional outfit as their peers in other sporting disciplines – specifically for team sports.

CAMERON’S WISHES 

Cameron aimed to lead a team that managed over improved development of cricket talent, improved revenue growth, regional unity and pride. He continues on the path to lead a team to manage, monitor and reinforce ways to solidify partnerships. While the Indian Tour walk off throws a spoke in the wheel of the plans of the current administration – the fall out presents an opportunity to fine tune and implement rules and regulations for a more sophisticated yet efficient management and administration.

Maybe it is time to clean house and chart a new way forward. The management of cricket has largely been lead in years gone by with a high emotional quotient and that cannot be the basis by which a commercial model is built. Players must be selected based on results which are facilitated through regional, collegiate and high school competitions. Like any other sporting model there is a basis on which players grow and develop into their game. I would suggest that by the time they reach the selection for the elite team stage, they would have completed up to 2,000 hours of play – which represents 20 per cent of the mastery status to be achieved to be considered an expert. Malcolm Gladwell suggests in his book the Outliers that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. He went to say that “The elite don’t just work harder than everybody else. At some point the elites fall in love with practice to the point where they want to do little else.”

Cameron and Nathan

How can we match those standards with our athletes in the region, in this case the cricketers? I would add to that if you insist on playing at the elite level, CLR James’ Beyond the Boundary should be a required reading. The athletes we compete with internationally are all satisfying those standards and if we are to maintain or surpass, we must compete on and off the field.

STRUCTURE

The current management structure includes a Secretariat based in Antigua monitored and evaluated by an elected body of 12 persons from the six territories with a CARICOM recommended person and two from the private sector. That body every quarter and when required, meet to decide on the matters which may arise and look at ways to improve the management. That structure can do with an overall in a few years after the Board has come over the India walk-out hump and look at a model where a small but efficient team is paid to handle the affairs, while generating enough income to employ others in the region to operate a similar outfit in each territory.

Cricket, due to the population in India and Pakistan, is the second most watched sport on TV in the world and broadcast rights form an important part of that income. We must be creative going forward.

Cameron may be up for a challenge in March 2015 and if so, it is time to think on how his leadership has been in the last two years. His focus then was on participation, human resource management and operations, accountability and responsibility. I doubt that will change.

Moving the cricket forward on all planes is priority…

WI team

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One thought on “The Change for West Indies Cricket

  1. Vincent Gordon says:

    But still one asks – what of the fundamentals? Awards ceremonies and grand announcements apart, it is evident that they masked unresolved, underlying issues, some of which played out in the recent India series. I suspect that until the president and the rest of the board seek to engage the people of the region, he will not have succeeded in developing the sport in a manner akin to how it is handled in India/Australia or even England. What of the Patterson recommendations? What are the goals being set for the WI Cricket Team? What are the selection criteria and how will one guard against insularity or nationalistic fervour that is so evident in some quarters? How do you handle the basics – leadership and media training for the captain and vice-captain? How many times can a captain get it wrong before he “gets it?” And if you are surrounded by people who tell you what you want to hear, how will you hear anything else? How can we utilize the significant knowledge of say a Cozier, even as we reduce the role of say a Lloyd who must be losing credibility all around?

    What are the minimum standards for selection to the West Indies team? Isn’t it better to have players with the right attitude to learning and success, than those who believe that an average in the 20s make them great? And in that vein, who coined the phrase “legends of West Indies Cricket” and how did say a Darren Ganga or a Ricardo Powell ascend into that august camp? This is the culture that keeps us mediocre; these are some of the fundamentals that need to be changed.

    Seems to me that the board is short on strategy and short, very short, on its implementation. One cannot commercialize a sport with this sort of team nor infrastructure. Perhaps cricket needs an “outside-in” approach; the inside-in has been a dismal failure.

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