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PM’s mediation – A victory for WI cricket

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Tue, Apr 17. 2012

Editor: Congrats to CARICOM’s point-guard man, Prime Minister Dr Ralph E. Gonsalves for his astute mediating role in the Chris Gayle/Otis Gibson standoff. The fact that the Vincentian PM successfully facilitated the resolution of this tenable unifying issue speaks volumes of his commitment to Caribbean integration.{{more}} The Caribbean owes Dr Gonsalves a debt of gratitude, since this protracted cricket saga threatened to permanently fragment the region into tribal fractions. Indeed, regional cricket fans were not impressed by the perceived politics of insularity which manifested itself during the Chris Gayle banishment.

It was with a great sense of national pride that I viewed this master of diplomacy articulating two weeks ago, on “The Sportsmax Zone,” how he was able to broker a deal without either party losing face. Admittedly triggered by the need for a speedy resolution after Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller became a casualty, the vexing issue was referred to the CARICOM cricket sub-committee. The tension escalated despite numerous pleas from Caribbean icons, including Antigua’s National Hero Sir Vivian Richards and former PM, Lester Bird. However, it was the WICB’s ‘rude’ response to the Jamaica PM that was the final straw that broke the camel’s back.

With the Heads of CARICOM up in arms and fuming in solidarity, the top regional decision-making body felt obliged to rescue the region’s most unifying force from the throes of despair. Naturally, this is where the intellectual guile and charisma of the Vincentian Prime Minister came to the fore. Dr Gonsalves’ feat must be taken in the context that when the irresistible force (Gayle) and the immovable object (Gibson) collided, the issue was deemed irreconcilable, since both men were not willing to relent. Therefore, the triumph of the CARICOM negotiating team must be heralded as a triumph of the Caribbean spirit.

The issue of contention was Windies coach Otis Gibson’s departure from professional ethics in publicly chastising the senior players for not pulling their weight during the 2011 ICC World Cup campaign. Mr Gibson claimed that former Windies skipper Gayle lacked leadership skills and is not a student of the game. An irate Christopher Gayle retorted during a no-holds barred radio interview on KLAS Sports, hit back at Mr Gibson, lamenting that the WICB singled out senior players for victimization treatment. His claims spoke of a fundamental crisis in team management.

Evidently, both men were guilty of breach of professional codes, since matters of such nature were not supposed to reach the public’s domain. Additionally, the WICB showed weakness in leadership through its inability to facilitate an amicable solution to the impasse. Therefore, the CARICOM sub-committee on cricket must be applauded on such a significant victory for West Indies Cricket.

What is noteworthy is PM Gonsalves’ claim that the negotiating document independently drafted (by him) formed the basis of the resolution. The fact that the WICB (Julian Hunte and Ernest St Hillaire), Mr Gayle and Mr Gibson were able to rescind and compromise, showed that these professionals appreciate the value of West Indies cricket. That Dr Gonsalves made it his personal responsibility to collect Mr Gayle on a chartered aircraft from St Kitts to St Vincent, underscores his commitment to the ennoblement of the Caribbean civilization. Superstar Chris Gayle was attending a memorial for his fallen Windies buddy, Runako Morton!

Although Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves’ mediation ensured Chris Gayle’s eligibility for WI selection, there are some residual issues that must be addressed to ensure true reconciliation. The lawsuit filed by Gayle’s attorneys against the WICB’s for its manipulation of Gayle’s No Objection Certificates (NOCs) for T20 gigs, constitutes the brunt of a “side letter” that must be speedily rectified. In the meantime, the prospects of the Windies are enhanced with the imminent inclusion of its prodigal son and the most marketable cricket superstar back into maroon colours.

Collin CA$H Haywood

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