CRICKET West Indies (CWI) president Dave Cameron is expected to face his sternest challenge in four years for the region's top cricket post when elections are held next month. Ex-Windies manager Ricky Skerritt yesterday announced he will be battling Cameron at the CWI elections set for March 24 in Jamaica. Skerritt and Dr Kishore Shallow, the president of the St Vincent and The Grenadines Cricket Association, who will be contesting the vice-presidency, yesterday unveiled a ten-point plan to revive Windies cricket.
Both candidates’ nominations were said to have been supported by the TT Cricket Board and Leeward Islands Cricket Board.
Speaking to Newsday yesterday, TTCB 1st vice president Arjoon Ramlal was coy about declaring support for Skerritt and Shallow, but admitted discussions had been held about their candidacies.
Ramlal said nominations are supposed to close on Sunday and once that takes place, the TTCB would make an official statement.
Twelve votes, two each for six-member territories, are at stake in the upcoming CWI elections.
The experienced Skerritt, 62, and Shallow, 35, both have impressive leadership track records and share a lifelong love of cricket.
Skerritt has tremendous knowledge and experience in the tourism industry, serving as Tourism Minister in St Kitts and Nevis. He is presently the president and lead strategy consultant at Skerritt & Associates.
His cricket background started early and was captain of the first-ever Leeward islands Under-19 team in 1975. He was also Minister of Sport in St Kitts and has been credited for transforming Warner Park from a dilapidated multi-functional sporting ground to an international cricket stadium, just in time for St Kitts to host its first ever international cricket match, the 3rd One-Day International during the Indian tour of the West Indies on May 23, 2006.
He is hoping to bring his cricket and tourism expertise to CWI and help take the organisation and regional cricket forward.
Skeritt and Shallow's "Cricket First" plan identifies strategies to regain global competitiveness and dominance. It focuses on the skill and character development of young players with extensive use of science, technology and innovation.
Once elected, Skerritt has promised to immediately seek the reallocation of resources currently used for centralised activities by CWI, to local grassroots cricket, coaching development, and the territorial governing bodies.
Skerritt took his first shot at the controversial Cameron, accusing the Jamaican of investing too much in himself and not the cricketers.
He said, “By my estimation, too much cost is being wasted on administrative and non-cricket related activities, including the high price of running an elaborate office for the president,. The budget for the president’s office has been growing alarmingly in recent years and I intend to reallocate a sizeable portion of that budget to grassroots cricket.”
The Cricket First plan presents strategies to simplify but strengthen administration, improve the regional franchise programme and increase support for younger cricketers through international exposure and a more decentralised High Performance System. The plan promises a realignment of team selection criteria with a renewed focus on talent spotting and development. It also calls for a repair of internal and external stakeholder relationships.
Skerritt added, “Refocusing attention on the basics of cricket and helping more young people to enjoy playing and learning from the game is what must become our daily mission at CWI. We must also help as many of our talented youth as possible to proudly make the transition to regional and international competitiveness at the highest levels.
Every dollar CWI spends in the future should relate in some way to the growth and betterment of all those involved in our beloved game.”
Shallow said he was convinced to join Skerritt as a vice president candidate because he holds the simple view that "West Indies cricket is far better than our current status suggests."
He said, “Ricky and I share the philosophy that the actual cricket must be placed first, with absolutely no compromise. West Indies cricket remains an extraordinary global brand which, by all calculations, has significantly underachieved. By leading a harmonised effort of all stakeholders, we would be well on the pathway to overdue success.”
In addition to the ten-point plan, Skerritt and Shallow are expressing strong opposition to recent moves by the incumbents to create an "executive status" for the elected office of the CWI president. According to Skerritt, “After six years as president, Dave Cameron’s intention to implement sweeping changes to the democratic process of decision-making within West Indies cricket is troubling. His desire to lead CWI as a full-time executive is not reflective of the West Indies cricket ethos. By advancing his plans for an autocratic leadership structure, which marginalises the role of commercially recruited executives, the incumbent has placed his personal thinking diametrically opposed to the values of West Indies cricket.”
In another action focused on the adherence to organisational best practices, Skerritt and Shallow have confirmed they will also propose a six-year term limit on the presidency. Shallow has recently successfully caused the enactment of an unprecedented term limit amendment to the constitution of his local association.
“I am convinced that a presidential term limit will remove much of the uncertainty and anxiety caused by the cricket politics and excesses that too often surround the office of president,” said Shallow.