Cricket, politics and the IMF

Paul Keens Douglas once said that West Indian politicians don’t know when to “out” themselves. In the sport of cricket, it is the norm for a cricketer to resign from the sport once he realises that his contribution to the team’s success is no longer worthwhile or appreciated.

Caribbean politicians on the other hand would never “out” themselves.

It is not in the DNA of Caribbean politicians to gracefully retire from frontline politics even in the twilight of their lives. They would cling on to power no matter what.

John Compton died in office, Vere Bird turned a septuagenarian in office. Ralph Gonsalves and Keith Mitchell are both old men and showing no sign of bowing out of frontline politics any time soon.

Regional politicians stubbornly hold on to power even when they become a liability to the sustainable development of their respective country.

Caribbean leaders remain in office for years, draining the resources of their respective countries. Their leadership is marred by divisiveness, confrontation, and economic stagnation.

It is very ironical that even as regional prime ministers continue to run their country’s economy, divide and rule the people, violate the constitution, engage in alleged corrupt practices, they have their job on the bandwagon attacking the West Indies Cricket Board over its handling of West Indian cricket.

I am no fan of the West Indies Cricket Board; however, some of these leaders are merely politicking given the recent victories on the international stage of the Under 19, women and men T20 cricket teams.

In many of the islands governed by these leaders there is a serious need for social, political and economic reforms. These leaders have demonstrated their inability to seriously address the many social, political and economic challenges facing their populace yet they continue to call for the dissolution of the West Indies Cricket Board.

What these leaders should concentrate on is to do the job that they were elected to do and allow the West Indies Cricket Board to do their own.

The mandate given to these leaders by their electorate is to effectively govern, something they have failed to do. If the leadership qualities of these leaders are evaluated many of them, including Grenada’s prime minister, would receive a grade F.

PM Mitchell in his tenure as prime minister of Grenada has allegedly increased the country’s national debt from $340 million to over $2 billion. He has grossly mismanaged Grenada’s national economy.

He has led Grenada into the claws of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and an infamous structural adjustment program.

Dave Cameron and the executive of the West Indies Cricket Board should be proud of the fact that West Indian Cricket isn’t managed or dictated to by the International Monetary Fund like some CARICOM countries especially those governed by his fiercest critics.

His critics can’t govern their respective territories but they are using West Indies cricket as a scapegoat for their own failures and shortcomings. These leaders, based on their track record, are not qualified to give advice to the West Indies Cricket Board.

Despite the many challenges facing the board they have NOT turned to the IMF for a financial bailout and support. Given the very limited resources available to the Board, they have been able to keep West Indian cricket afloat. While there is room for improvement in the management of West Indies cricket, regional leaders have caused more harm than good to West Indies cricket through their politicking.

How many of these leaders has seen it fit to attend one of the major international cricket tournaments to give moral support to the teams.

Instead, they have attacked the Board, sparing no effort to create a vacuum between the players and the board.

These politicians must concentrate on their own business, which is to govern their domain effectively and leave the Board to reform itself  and work towards the improvement of West Indian cricket.

For decades, West Indian cricket has been marred with controversy over money. One can recall the days of Kerry Parker and Alvin Kallicharan. Ever since, there has been controversy between the West Indies Cricket Board, Players Association, players and Caribbean politicians all trying to seek their interest and boost their egos.

None of the other major international teams are subjected to such scrutiny by the political directorate. I am certain that the ICC is disgusted with this approach by the politicians.

Regional politicians continue to use the sport to advance and promote their own selfish political ambitions. The leaders of CARICOM have all failed the people of the region including our cricket.

Regional governments have failed to address the many burning issues facing Caribbean youths and their sustainable development. How many playing facilities have these leaders developed to assist the poor youths in the rural communities throughout the region?

In some islands, namely, Grenada and Dominica, the Chinese have build stadiums in the urban areas to advance their own political interest.

These stadiums, are however, not meeting the need of the youths in the rural communities, the demographic region where young cricketers are most likely to come from.

All is not lost for West Indies cricket. It will, however, take a lot of effort and hard work for West Indies cricket to return to the Clive Lloyd and Vivian Richards era.

Dissolving the West Indies Cricket Board, however, isn’t the solution. The solution may lie in getting rid of all those anti-progressive politicians who don’t have much to contribute to West Indian cricket except rhetoric and old talk to gain political mileage.

The second solution is for the players to stay clear of those political leaders and concentrate on their own job. Darren Sammy needs to understand his role and also show some respect to those who are paying his bills. He should be smart and mindful of the fact that the same leaders who are sparking the flames of dissent in West Indian cricket are the same leaders who behave like dictators in their respective countries.

In conclusion, congratulations to Team West Indies U19, women and men T20. Congratulations also to the Grenadian cricketers who have contributed to the success of these teams. Stay focused and don’t be distracted by political games. Remember what happened to Junior Murray, a player with enormous skills and talent but fell away as a result of political interference. Maximise the opportunity that you have been

Grenadian Class

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