I listened to WICB president, Ken Gordon (see photo), talking on the radio this afternoon. He talked freely about aspects of West Indies cricket management and poor performances in the recent CWC, noting that we played according to the form book, being beaten by better teams. (It’s worth remembering, though, that Mr. Gordon had predicted that West Indies would win the tournament.) But he lamented the manner of the defeats and the absence of a sense of wanting to fight for victory. He spoke about the need to change attitudes and practices in the team and more broadly, and felt that the WICB was a better organization now. We may not all agree on his assessment of the WICB (see recent commentary in The Jamaica Gleaner), the outgoing captain, Brian Lara, or how best to move forward with cricket in the region, it was good for him to speak on these subjects and not immediately duck some of the difficult questions. He was ready to place much blame on the shoulders of WICB, and one has to remember that Mr. Gordon’s background is in the media. Whether Mr. Gordon stays as WICB president or leaves, another piece of CWC legacy needs to be honesty in addressing issues about how cricket is run in the region. However, this need for honesty is not just an issue for the cricket world, but for politicians and public officials, as I wrote about recently, but needs to be seen across many areas of Caribbean public life. We also need to listen.
Former Chairman of Cricket World Cup 2007, Rawle Brancker, in giving the 13th Frank Worrell Memorial Lecture has called the WICB arrogant and irrelevant (see report). He needs to be heard. Clearly, there is much that is wrong and getting it right will not be easy or quick.
The wave of criticism that has followed the failures of the cricket team and the CWC itself contain many points that need to be addressed. Some problems were really obvious from the outset: the ridiculously high prices for tickets (in South Africa, the highest price was US$ 40, set to attract locals). Caribbean locals could not afford to go to games in any significant numbers, and plenty of evidence exists suggesting that they were not expected to be the main base for sales. This was a critical marketing mistake and those who were responsible for that decision need to stand up and hear the music fully. Now, we are hearing arguments that the CWC was not supposed to be a financial success but should have “showcased” the region to build future tourism. If this is correct, then we really need to figure out whether what was done even remotely helped in that regard. More marketing mistakes?
There seems to have been muddled thinking at many points along the way, and unravelling the muddle will not be easy or painless. Let’s see how it’s handled.