Mahabir to challenge Bassarath for TTCB president

Azim Bassarath - AYANNA KINSALE
Azim Bassarath - AYANNA KINSALE

SECONDARY SCHOOLS’ Cricket League (SSCL) president Surujdath Mahabir has joined the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board’s (TTCB) presidential race.

Mahabir will vie for the board’s top post against incumbent Azim Bassarath, who is seeking a fifth term in office. Mahabir, the former TT off-spinner, filed his nomination papers at the Sir Frank Worrell Development Centre in Couva just after noon on Friday, the final day for nominations.

The TTCB elections will be held at the same venue on October 30 from 9 am to 1 pm. Altogether 49 board members will vote for six executive positions – president, first vice-president, second vice-president, third vice-president, general secretary and treasurer.

The incumbents are Bassarath (president), Arjoon Ramlal (first vice-president), Kerwin John (second vice-president), Parasram Singh (third vice-president), Mahabir (general secretary) and Sukesh Manian (treasurer).

Mahabir however, seeks to transform the leadership of local cricket by having a more “inclusive and democratic administration”.

Other confirmed nominations will see Shareda Mohammed contest for TTCB’s first vice-president post, Maniam vying for the position of third vice-president, Altaf Baksh (general secretary) and Sharaz Mohammed (executive member). Winston Sobers has also thrown his hat into the ring for an independent position.

Mahabir said he is working on an initiative titled Project 10,000 which is geared towards getting 10,000 young persons – girls and boys under the age of 18 – meaningfully engaged in cricket programmes and activities over the next three-year term.

The newly elected president on October 30 however, will serve a four-year term after recent changes to the TTCB constitution were unanimously approved earlier this month.

On Monday, the elections committee will reveal the final list of confirmed candidates for this year’s election. This committee comprises of five members, headed by attorney Ronald Simon.

On his brazen challenge to oppose veteran Bassarath, Mahabir seeks change.

“We have identified that there has been stagnation and even a decline in many aspects of our cricket prior to this (pandemic), especially in visionary proactive leadership, youth development, team performances and club structure and sustainability,” he said.

A statement issued by Mahabir on Friday highlighted Bassarath’s statements in a recent newspaper article where he said he still has “unfinished business” as TTCB president.

Mahabir believes this particular statement “exemplifies our belief that a change of leadership is urgently needed”.

He thinks the only way to address the sport’s “decline, post covid19” is to reignite interest among young people and clubs.

Mahabir said this will require a new vision, futuristic planning, participatory decision-making, enhanced internal relationships and effective networking, with and among all stakeholders, supporters and well-wishers of the game.

The statement added, “It is time for new leadership and a new business plan if TT and West Indies cricket are to once more rise to the top. This type of status quo cannot be maintained.

“Our valuable resources and finances must be channelled and managed efficiently and effectively into the right areas for growth, development and success of our players, clubs, and national teams.”

The incumbent president however, is undeterred by those who wish to challenge his 12-year-long reign as TTCB head. Bassarath filed his nomination papers on Thursday and awaits the election committee’s final list of candidates.

When asked if he felt confident ahead of the elections, Bassarath replied, “It’s not ‘if’ I’m appointed, because I will be elected president on October 30. We are putting things in place.

“We anticipate a bumper 2022 season as long as permission is granted by the health ministry for us to play cricket."

In this January 21, 2020 file photo, president of the Secondary Schools Cricket League Surujdath Mahabir, left, recieves the sponsorship package from general manager of PowerGen Surendra Ramsingh, at the opening of the 2020 season of the league at, at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy, Tarouba. Photo by Lincoln Holder

Bassrath reflected on the board’s most recent accomplishments with the national teams and other developmental programmes.

“TT won the last Super50 tournament. We placed second in the regional four-day tournament in 2020 and at the WI Under-19 Rising Stars training camp that was held in Antigua in August, TT had the most players there. So the cricket is clearly going forward,” he said.

The president added that over 100 persons aligned to the national teams have already been fully vaccinated in preparation for a possible restart to cricket in the coming months.

He believes vaccination is the only way cricket would be able to be given the green light to resume by Ministry of Health. Most domestic sport such as cricket and football, and other contact sports, has been prohibited since the pandemic hit in mid-March last year.

Additionally, several zonal councils have made public their support of Bassarath over the past two weeks. Thus far, Central, South, South East, East and North East are in support of Bassarath’s re-election as local cricket boss.


"Mahabir to challenge Bassarath for TTCB president"

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