The West Indies Cricket Board’s dream of collecting US$10 million from the International Cricket Council (ICC) over the next eight years, starting in January, appears to be over. This is based on the stance of the new president of the ICC, Shashank Manohar, who is also the new president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). The money was supposed to be payable to the West Indies, New Zealand, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan for their support of cricket’s “Big Three”, India, England, and Australia, in their move to take over the ICC early last year. In any language, that is a lot of money, and it is a lot of money for doing nothing, except, possibly, for supporting the “Big Three” in their bid for control of the ICC. That figure represents the money for the Test Match Fund promised to the full members of the ICC, with the exception of India, England, and Australia, and it was promised to them for their support in the much-maligned bid. Lest you have forgotten, the aim of the Test Match Fund was “to encourage Test match cricket” outside the “Big Three”. According to the ICC, with all but the “Big Three” suffering loses when they play each other, it was likely that the money would be used to offset these loses. Recently, for example, Sri Lanka lost some $648,000 while hosting the West Indies. In announcing the release of the funds recently, the ICC did not, however, make mention of the terms of usage, or how it would hold the Boards accountable to the objective of encouraging Test cricket. Maybe the ICC did not have to, or did not intend to, if the money was really for the Test Match Fund and was something of an attraction, something like a bribe, to get the seven to vote for the “Big Three”. SECRETLY TALKED ABOUT BULLYING Remember, the takeover, as it was reported, was secretly talked about privately for some time before it became public, and when it came out and was met with opposition, the deals followed. The deals included plans for more Test matches and more money for the smaller teams, and two countries, New Zealand and the West Indies, supported the move, while Zimbabwe, South Africa, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan were all against it. The promise of money won the day, with Pakistan, the last join in, saying it was difficult to stand alone. The pieces of silver may not now arrive, and some of the seven may be disappointed, including the West Indies, who gave away their right, the right to have a voice around the table, the right of equality, and the right for which their predecessors had fought for so long and so hard. Maybe the West Indies four-day professional league is not now guaranteed. The “Big Three” takeover, however, may now end up as nothing but a nightmare, or a bad dream, and as an embarrassment to India, England, and Australia, and also the West Indies. Two Wednesdays ago, it was reported by cricinfo.com that Manohar, the present and new chairman of the ICC, the man who is also the new president of Indian cricket, and the man who succeeded N Srinivasan, the former Indian Board president, had criticised “the imbalance of power within cricket’s governing body” because of the constitution revamp last year which gave the boards of India, England, Australia “greater authority and a larger share of the revenue”. That is interesting: an Indian against an Indian, and Manohar could make all the difference, especially as England, one of Srinivasan’s supporters, is now, it is reported, supporting Manohar. Speaking in Dubai a few days ago, Manohar called the revamp “bullying”, while saying that “there were several faults in the ICC that he hopes to rectify during his term as chairman, which ends in June 2016”. The faults include his disagreement with three countries “bullying” the ICC because of his belief that “an institution is bigger than an individual”, his disagreement with the ruling which says that “all the three countries will be automatically represented on all major committees”, and his disagreement with the fact that “all the financial and commercial aspects of the executive committee will be controlled by the representatives of the three countries.” According to Manohar, “You should have the best man, whether he comes from Zimbabwe, or the West Indies, or even from an associate or affiliate to work on a committee, that will protect the interest of the ICC.” Under the new governance structure, while the BCCI president became the chairman of the ICC, the Cricket Australia chairman heads the five-man executive committee, and the England and Wales Cricket Board president continues to head the ICC’s finance and commercial committees. In January 2014, a draft, done by representatives of India, England, and Australia, was presented to the ICC. The draft was a revenue-distribution document and it proposed, among other things, such as the return to the days of colonialism, that India, England, and Australia get a greater share of the ICC’s revenue. The new chairman of the ICC, the new president of the BCCI, and the man who follows the recent president of the BCCI and the chairman of the ICC into office, said that he does not agree with the revenue-sharing formula simply because, “while it is nice to say that India will get 22 per cent of the total revenue of ICC, you cannot make the poor poorer and the rich richer only because you have the clout”. Early last year, people like Eshan Mani of Pakistan, Malcolm Speed and Malcolm Grey of Australia, Saber Hossain Chowdhury of Bangladesh, Ali Bacher of South Africa, Mike Atherton of England, and Clive Lloyd of the West Indies saw the light and spoke out against it, loud and clear. Today, apart from England’s Giles Clarke, it is Shashank Manohar, the president of the all-powerful BCCI and the chairman of ICC himself, and his stance is strongly supported by members of the cricket fraternity, among them, Cricket South Africa, which has expressed “enormous delight”, and Sri Lanka Cricket, which calls Manohar “a sensible man”.
Last week our under 17 Reggae Girlz left Jamaica to compete in the women’s CONCACAF Championships in the Caribbean island of Grenada. Our young teenage footballers had been crowned the Caribbean Football Union champions last year and after a preparation which included a training camp in Florida that head coach Lorne Donaldson described as “useful”, expectations were high.The pre-qualification hype suggested that other than the mighty USA, Jamaica should easily qualify for the next stage, which is the ultimate prize, the Under 17 World Cup. Jamaican football fans, anxious for another appearance of the national team in a World Cup Finals might be forgiven for thinking that this team of young girls comprised young Jamaican footballers who played football in this country under trying conditions, with the hope of representing their country in competition.No such luck. The team selected to play in the first game against the mighty USA comprised of seven American and four Canadian players, who have legitimately qualified to represent Jamaica in this tournament.No local-based player was good enough to make the cut.The quaint and old fashioned idea of international competition being the best of ours against the best of yours has once again been abandoned in the desperate attempt to win. Apparently, development will come later.Unfortunately, our girls lost to the USA 8-1.Our next game against Costa Rica saw our young girls leading 2-1 before eventually effectively bowing out of the tournament by losing 3-2. Today we play defending champions Mexico. Hopefully some of our local footballers will get a game as there is no chance of our qualifying and there is very little difference in losing 1-0 or 6-0.What would be different would be the fact that local footballers gained valuable experience in playing in a World Cup qualifying tournament against superior opponents. The lessons learnt in that match cannot be duplicated in a practise or ‘friendly’ game.Jamaica’s football is in crisis. That fact seems lost on the hierarchy of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), who constantly look overseas for talent when contemplating selection for international competition. Once you have an accent you are in.What kind of system is that? How can our local players improve? Why are our local coaches, those who constantly win local competitions, always overlooked for someone who trains abroad. Why is it not possible for the coach of the Barbican women’s football team who have yet to lose a match in two years been asked to coach a Jamaica team? Why is it not possible for the coach of Jamalco and other local netball teams asked to coach a Jamaica team? Why is it that the coach of the Jamaica cricket team, who has coached the team from first to last in the past two (or is it three) years not relieved of his duties?These are questions that need answers. These answers will only come when we-the-people demand it.I’m of the opinion that those in charge of our local sporting organisations have some other agenda than developing local talent. God bless our track and field athletes who have shown that there is absolutely nothing wrong with Jamaica. In fact, foreigners leave their first world countries to train here in Jamaica, while we the leaders of our other sporting organisations constantly look abroad for talent.Things can change. Recent happenings give me hope. Swimming has seamlessly changed leaders. The other sporting organisations have leaders who are prepared to defy the courts, Prime Ministers and fans, while desperately clinging on to power. Let there be power to the people.