Sunday, February 8 – KINGSTON – West Indies Cricket received Test Status in 1928 and since then the team has been a consistent staple in cricket fans’ diets all the world over. The 15 countries of the Caribbean region have been through an interesting history and some 87 years later, the status of the game and its management are into question. The issue who plays what roles and how?
The history of the elite team’s performance in the 70’s and 80’s is well known and saw that team defeat their opponents one by one, week by week over consecutive seasons. The slide started mid nineties, some argue before, but in 1995 when the series in England tied 2-2, that was the end of a winning era. I covered parts of that tour for a newspaper.
During those years management roles and views have also changed. In the organisation’s history, the WICB now has its 18th president in Whycliffe ‘Dave’ Cameron and the world of sport management has changed dramatically since Sir Harold Austin. The value of the sport industry now racks up a cool 648 billion US dollars in its earnings with franchises all over the world. The dilemma Cameron and the Caribbean people face is how can the current unit attract sponsorship dollars to maintain an economic model worthy of encouraging players who are talented enough to play the game and earn enough to look after their families.
The politics of the Caribbean cricket could prevent the best leader and his/her team to enable an environment to make cricket an industry of any value. World statistics will tell you cricket is the second most watched sport on television only to football and those revenues could bear well for the region if the team starts to perform close to or at the top again.
The rebuilding process in light of the current chaos has a lot of work for the six million people in the English-speaking Caribbean and the personal attacks on a president who has in two brief years initiated, led and managed a considerable programme of positive change is unbelievable.
The team he has lead has had some wins ranging from impacting players to former players and the cricketing community feels more apart of the bigger picture. I would be naive to think that there would be no objections, but in going forward the Caribbean region could do with an industry beyond tourism to earn some well-needed funds in its coffers.
Here are some of those initiatives:
- Re-signing agreement with ESPN for the NAGICO Super 50
- More cricket on television in the region
- PCL 4-day competition
- 105 athletes who are being paid directly as a result of that reform
- A few athletes who are on pay-per-play which widens the pool
- More cricket – giving opportunities to more players – expanded 4 day PCL
- WIPA/WICB Alignment
- 2 years of the WICB/WIPA Awards
- Best relationship in the last decade
- No legal issues
- Deficit reduced
- Establishment of the West Indies Retired Players Foundation with launches in at least three countries along with a few programmes to recognise the former players and look after their well-being
- A fund raising Golf event due soon (WIRPF)
Cricket is that one sport to drive the revolution and Dave Cameron and his team can continue to lead that charge. The 40+ years old financial broker with under graduate and post graduate training in Hospitality Management and Management Information Systems has been involved the running of the sport at several levels and the engagement at several levels of the game from local to international has helped him hold a significantly better perspective on how to effect some of the changes required at this time.
The Caribbean economy has gaps and if the region refocuses its attention on sport and the creative industry – that combination could be useful. The decision of the voters is key in the March 7 election scheduled for Kingston, Jamaica.