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Mottley chides administrators on the decline of WI cricket

By Rawle Toney

Prime Minister Mia Mottley has called for a complete overhaul of the current governance structure of West Indies cricket.

Mottley made the frank suggestion while delivering the 22nd Frank Worrell Memorial lecture on Tuesday night, citing the continuing decline of the regional men’s cricket team across all formats.

Speaking before an audience that included West Indies head coaches Daren Sammy and Andre Coley, assistant coach Floyd Reifer, Test captain Kraigg Brathwaite, president of the Barbados Cricket Association Conde Riley and vice-chancellor of UWI, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, Mottley emphasised the significance of cricket in the context of regional integration.

The outspoken Prime Minister described the West Indies’ recent failure to qualify for the ICC ODI World Cup as the straw that broke the camel’s back.

“We are playing the fool. I do not cast blame on any single person, but I am reaching out to an entire civilisation and its people,” Mottley told the packed Roy Marshall Teaching Complex at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus.

“We have reached a point where the absolute imperative must be to change the governance of our game.”

Mottley’s lecture, which lasted just over an hour, extensively referenced various attempts by CARICOM and individual Member States to improve the state of the game in the region.

She referred to the Governance Report of 1992 and the PJ Patterson Report of 2007, both of which addressed cricket governance issues in the region.

The most recent Wehby Report, derived in 2020 from a task force chaired by Jamaica’s Don Wehby, reviewed the governance structure and procedures of CWI and assessed the findings of reports produced between 2005 and 2016.

However, despite the various reports offering similar recommendations, Mottley criticised the “custodians of the game” for their failure to adjust their administration of the sport.

“We continue to believe that we can rewrite the future of cricket in the Caribbean through fragmentation rather than cohesion, and insularity instead of unity,” the Prime Minister stated.

Mottley contended that if there was to be any improvement in the regional team’s performance on the global stage, its administrators needed to look in the mirror.

“We did not think that it could continue to slide. And at what point do we start to correct the trajectory? This is not something that gives any of us pleasure,” said the 2021 Champion of the Earth recipient.

The Prime Minister pointed to the tremendous strides made in cricket by New Zealand, Australia, and England, saying they had made significant changes in their governance styles.

Mottley, however, questioned whether Cricket West Indies (CWI) had taken the necessary steps to bring about change and stressed the urgency of addressing the situation.

“Every time we lose now, it is like a cuff on the bottom of your belly. Every time we hear that we can no longer qualify for that, which we ought to have,” the Prime Minister stated.

Mottley, who has consistently been a prominent advocate for the game in the region, pointed out that the West Indies’ poor performances of recent had led to a decline in interest by fans.

She said this was evidenced by the small number of spectators who turned out for the two Test matches against India in Dominica and Trinidad.

“Our people have already voted, and they have voted with their feet. I was horrified when I watched the audiences or lack thereof this last week.

“When our public starts to send the message, as a politician, I would tell you and advise you it is time to listen. Because what you are losing is not only the financial basis for your continuance, but you’re also losing the basis for you to continue to choose from the best that there is because their parents are going to be advising them to move into different sports,” Mottley said.

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