Governance of West Indies Cricket

By Doctor Rudi Webster

In a recent article, Michael Holding expressed his support for the findings and recommendations in the Wehby Governance Report, but doubted whether the directors of CWI would accept and implement its most important recommendations. His skepticism is well founded. In the past, antiquated thinking and rigid attitudes resulted in the rejection of sensible performance enhancing recommendations in the Lucky, Patterson, Wilkin and WICB/CARICOM reports.

What will the directors do this time? Will they opt for change or will they stick to the status quo? One thing is certain. If they refuse to change their thinking and perception, West Indies cricket will remain trapped in a failure spiral and will languish in the bottom tier of the ICC rankings. The cricket environment that the directors have created as a result of the level of thinking they have done thus far produced problems that cannot be solved at the same level as they were created. The problems must be resolved at a higher level of thinking within a new perspective. The Governance Report affords the board that opportunity.

The president and vice-president of Cricket West Indies CWI are committed to tackling these problems but their effectiveness will only be as good as the performance and support of the directors and regional cricket boards.

In education, countries with substandard or poor primary and secondary schools should not expect to produce outstanding scholars in their universities, particularly if the university standards are also low. The same is true of cricket education and development. Someone once complained that the board was sending pine to the academy and was expecting the academy to produce mahogany. High standards are extremely important.

Many years ago in Trinidad, I witnessed Frank Worrell giving an important lesson to a very young Garfield Sobers. He told him to measure the quality of his performances and achievements, not by local norms, but by the highest standards in  international cricket. We boast about the natural talent of our players but if we do an honest examination of their performances,we would see that, in just about every case, their statistics fall short of acceptable international standards. Unfortunately some of our directors confuse winning competitions with high standards.

A few years ago at a meeting in Grenada between two CARICOM prime ministers and the WICB, one of the directors boasted about the high standard of cricket and cricket programmes in his island. He claimed that if the other countries followed his island’s example, West Indies cricket would be in a very healthy state. To emphasise his point, he informed the prime ministers that his island had eight players in the current Test team.  One of the prime ministers paused for a while and then said, “Now I understand why the West Indies team is playing so well. But I can’t understand why the team is near the bottom of the ICC Test rankings.” Clearly, that director did not have a proper insight into reality.

Reality is in our mind not in the world around us. We see things not as they are but as we are. What we see in a situation is not only determined by our position and status but also by our beliefs, values, memories, expectations, thinking and motivation. This is where the board is most likely to find the answers to some of  its problems.

Psychologist William James once said that the greatest discovery of our time is that man by changing the inner aspect of his mind can alter the outer aspect of his life. Meaningful change usually starts from within.

Before coming to a conclusion about the Governance Report, directors should do an honest examination of their values and motivational profiles. Values are the most important thing in thinking.  Our decisions, judgments, choices and actions are usually based on the values we use. Values are the link between situations and our basic emotions.

In any dynamic system there are forces that hold things together and opposing forces that take things apart. In the team or organization there is always conflict between “Mates” Values – caring, sharing, helping and working cooperatively to achieve common goals – and the “Me” Values – working selfishly and egotistically to satisfy individual needs and personal goals ahead of team or organizational goals. 

If “Me” Values dominate, destructive conflict ensues and forces like greed, petty jealousies, selfishness, infighting and political battles disrupt unity, shared vision and common purpose.

The directors of CWI can establish their hierarchy of values by writing down the values that might influence their judgment and decision -making about the importance of the Governance Report. They should then arrange these values into two groups, a very important group and an important group. This exercise will force the directors to examine each value carefully. The values in the important group should be taken into consideration but those in the very important group should be acted upon. The values in the very important group should then be listed in order of priority.

If in the end, power and control are rated as the highest value, or survival, protection of position and preservation of the status quo, resistance to change and rejection of the Report’s findings and recommendations would be on the cards.  But if working together as a cohesive unit to improve the performance of the  organization and team is listed as the first important value, the odds of accepting and implementing the Report would automatically improve.

Peter Thompson Australia’s best golfer once told me: “High achievers in sport (players and administrators) are sometimes desperate people crying out for love, recognition and public acclamation.  It is sometimes very sad to see someone who is so desperate to succeed doing anything and everything. However, there are other motives such as giving your best effort or winning.  I suppose the purest motive is to win for yourself and your team and experience that quiet inner feeling of satisfaction and sense of achievement. That is the noble end.”

Directors of CWI, please take note of those comments. it’s time for West Indies cricket  to escape its failure spiral and get back to high standards and winning ways. Adopting the Wehby Report could be the first step in that new and important journey.

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