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Regional leaders should tread carefully in settling WI cricket debacle

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Fri, Nov 7, 2014

Vincentians have good reason to be proud of the high esteem and respect accorded to our head of government, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, in international and regional affairs. His initiatives and proactive involvement have led to wide recognition of the critical role he plays in crafting solutions to a wide range of problems outside our shores.{{more}}

In so doing, however, our Prime Minister must remain mindful of the national mood and of the views of our people as a whole, so as to ensure that he does not go beyond the pale. In particular, where matters in the CARICOM region are concerned, given the tendency of a number of regional leaders to drag their feet on pressing matters, he must be careful that SVG is not left to hang out to dry.

The latest cricketing debacle is one example. Following the stubbornness and intransigence of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) and the international players, which led to the unprecedented abandonment of the tour to India and all the repercussions arising therefrom, regional governmental involvement was sought to try and bail the region out of an intractable situation.

In the end, it was left up to the Prime Minister of Grenada, Dr Keith Mitchell, who has responsibility at the level of CARICOM Heads for cricket affairs, and our own Prime Minister, with a history of intervention, as in the Chris Gayle case, to broker talks between the warring parties. That choice, of two OECS leaders, when the sub-region has suffered most in West Indian cricket, is in itself most interesting. Trinidad and Tobago provides two of the Caribbean’s three cricketing captains and Jamaica and Barbados for sure, are traditional powerhouses. None of these Prime Ministers have been actively involved.

From the time that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced its intention to pursue a multi-million dollar claim against the WICB, one question has reverberated throughout the region – Who will pay? None of the three parties at the centre of the debacle have indicated either willingness or responsibility in this regard. Judging by the comments of cricket fans and citizens of the region in the media — traditional and social — there is certainly not much enthusiasm for regional governments to foot any such bill either.

So, when our Prime Minister is reported as saying that “I have been talking to several persons at home and abroad to respond to the plea by the president (WICB) to see how we can help them with the US$42 million claim that the Indian cricketing authorities have made against our team,” then understandably red flags are flying.

What does this help entail? Governments taking taxpayers’ dollars in such difficult times to pay for the irresponsibility of all three parties? Will the WICB, WIPA and our millionaire cricketing stars be bearing their share of the burden? There has not even been genuine expressions of contrition on the part of the offending parties.

Rather, there is talk of “no discrimination”, “no victimisation” against the superstars. No apology on their part for the irreparable damage to Caribbean cricket. Not that the fault lies solely at their doors, but before we all must pay, should there not at least be some plausible explanation, some acceptance of responsibility, something to show that Caribbean cricket fans and citizens are respected by the offending parties? That is what collective responsibility is all about.

Prime Minister Gonsalves and his colleagues must be mindful of the feelings of our people.

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