On Sunday, March 24 in a vote that surprised the most optimistic of us, Ricky Skerritt, the challenger for the position of president of Cricket West Indies (CWI), defeated the incumbent Whycliffe Cameron by eight votes to four. This is a convincing margin of victory as it meant that four of the six territories would have supported the challenger.
What made it even more surprising was Cameron’s supreme confidence to the point of arrogance that he would win. If he knew anything about the game of cricket, he would have known that it is a game of glorious uncertainties!
But Cameron doesn’t understand sport and it seems neither does he politics, as he said he had no concern that he could lose for he was sure of the support of at least three territories, hence would only need one single vote to win by a seven to six margin. This was the same slight edge by which he won in the past.
Let’s have a look at how the voting went. My conclusions here are speculative as the directors of the board of CWI are secretive by design and an ‘old-boys club’ by choice!
The Barbados Cricket Association’s president Conde Riley was the only one that publicly voiced their support for the incumbent. It was also done in a direct and rude manner, rejecting Skerritt’s offer to present his plan to them, not unlike a manifesto in political elections.
This support was expected as Barbados receives pronounced favours from CWI under Cameron through the number of international games played there with every visit of an overseas team.
Guyana didn’t make a public announcement like Barbados, however, they quietly refused Skerritt a chance to present his proposal to them. Of course, they have an unconstitutionally elected Board running their cricket since 2011 and Cameron had accepted them as legal because they gave him their two votes ever since 2013. Guyana was happy with the status quo, enjoying their exclusivity under the Jamaican.
Barbados and Guyana were the two that gave Cameron their two votes each. Those were his four votes!
Jamaica, as recent as January, had a new Association voted in, which was neutral but disliked the manner in which Cameron was leading the region’s cricket to the point of alienating the cricketers.
A Jamaican (or in that case most Caribbean citizens) would never vote against a fellow citizen unless he/she has been doing a terrible job and deserves to be removed from office. So it was, the Jamaican directors went against their fellow national, casting their two votes for Skerritt. Along with proposer Leewards and seconders Trinidad and Tobago, that made six.
Close to the chest
Six to four for the challenger, and two floating votes that belong to the Windward Islands. Again, Cameron boasted that the Windwards were going to vote for him, but they never mentioned it publicly.
Although they refused to see Skerritt, they were holding their cards very close to their chest, for it is no secret that two influential Prime Ministers of that region, Dr Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Dr Keith Mitchell of Grenada, were both against Cameron for the past few years and would have used any influence they had to convince the directors from those islands to vote for the challenger. That would have been how the final score of eight to four was achieved!
The arrogance of Cameron alone showed he is not the type of leader needed for an international sporting organisation, especially one with our peculiar non-federated background of insularity and separate politics of independent nations.
The cricket commentaries in the region after the election are mostly about what the new president has to address if he is to be successful, the pitfalls he has to avoid, plus the failures of his predecessor to use the presidency to advance the game together with the West Indian cricketer and his success.
The cricket played by the West Indies was going from bad to worse when Cameron took over, while his medicine to heal it was bitter; thus, it created division in the teams and within the separate territorial governing bodies. It was too autocratic and authoritarian for the good of the game. Therefore, descent was assured!
Skerritt will be observed closely while being given time to settle in and build his organisation, weeding out the unwanted influences left over from the Cameron administration.
I expect him to move gradually and I’m pleased to notice that he is already righting some wrongs by settling with former coach Phil Simmons and encouraging cricketers from our most successful era, referring to them as legends, to assist him in his venture. Cameron never knew how to utilise this gold mine of experience and knowledge!
I wish the new president loads of luck to assist him and I trust this welcome change will be for West Indian success. The light of hope from the darkness of despair!