Holding tells WI administrators: 'Clean up your act'

The Prime Minister  (R) speaks with Barbados prime minister Mia Mottley (L) and former West Indies cricketer Sir Charles Griffith at the Caricom Regional Cricket Conference at the Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain on April 25. - Photo by Jeff K. Mayers
The Prime Minister (R) speaks with Barbados prime minister Mia Mottley (L) and former West Indies cricketer Sir Charles Griffith at the Caricom Regional Cricket Conference at the Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain on April 25. - Photo by Jeff K. Mayers

WEST INDIES fast-bowling legend and former commentator Michael Holding has called on Cricket West Indies (CWI) administrators and the administrators of the various territorial boards to “clean up their act” to push the Caribbean game forward.

Speaking virtually during the morning session at the Caricom Regional Cricket Conference at the Hyatt Regency in Port of Spain on Thursday, Holding, known in his playing days as the “Whispering Death,” made a passionate and emotional call for more transparency and better practices by the regional bodies.

Holding said he was “depressed” after reading CWI’s audited financial statements for 2022/23, as it seemed to him there were several irregularities and even fraudulent activities which were recorded in the document, which was unveiled last month.

“I was fortunate, or some people would say unfortunate, to set my eyes on the most recent audit that was done on the CWI. And when I read that report, I can't say I was shocked because I've heard so many stories,” Holding said.

“I was depressed. When I read that report and I saw what some people would say are indiscretions, questionable financial transactions, or alleged fraud, it is evident from the report that things happened which should not have taken place.”

Holding also directed his focus toward the TT Cricket Board (TTCB), which is in the midst of a legal joust with its former treasurer Kiswah Chaitoo, who was axed from his position after a motion of no-confidence against him at a special general meeting in Couva on February 28.

In December, Chaitoo revealed approximately $500,000 was allegedly misused by the TTCB over a five-year period, with signing blank cheques being one of the regular practices during that period. Chaitoo, an experienced forensic accountant, felt the need to clear his name and reported the matter to the Fraud Squad.

A TTCB employee has resigned since the incident.

Holding summarised the chain of events as “madness.”

“Just recently, I saw a report about something happening in the TTCB where someone saw the discrepancies and reported it and that person was sidelined. Come on, folks, we have to face things like that and do the right thing,” Holding said, talking with the same venom he used to terrorise opposing batsmen during his 13-year career.

“People will say, 'You shouldn't wash your dirty laundry in public,” he continued.

“You won't have to wash your dirty laundry in public if there's no dirty laundry. You have got to make examples of people and things that happen to ensure these things don't happen again. And unless we start to do that, it will not change.”

He said the lack of transparency will continue to stall the progress of West Indies cricket if it’s not nipped in the bud.

“We are just moving from one administration to the other under one system. There is the same lack of transparency. The same things keep on happening over and over,” said Holding, who also said the CWI is not responsible for all the wrongs in West Indies cricket.

“Some genius said many years ago, ‘If you keep on doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, it's a sign of madness.’

“What we are doing in the Caribbean is madness. We need to clean up our act. If we cannot produce on the field, we will soon die.”

TTCB president Azim Bassarath, in an immediate response, said he was confident the TTCB will be cleared of any worngdoing in the use of funds.

“A motion of no confidence was passed against Chaitoo. He breached the constitution of the board, and the board members took action accordingly.

"The matter is now before the police. It's in the police's hands. It's there for the police to do their work and do their investigation.”

The TTCB has since lost sponsorship for all of its youth tournaments, with Bassarath confirming its correlation to the ongoing matters involving his board.

“It's very concerning to me. I think the board's image is more important than anyone else's and the board members are very confident we weren't involved in this issue in any way. As I said before, and I want to reiterate, there was admittance from the employee who has since resigned,” Bassarath said.

“We have it in writing where (the former employee) admitted to committing the crime without collusion from anyone.”

The cricket conference was opened by the Prime Minister, chairman of the Caricom Prime Ministerial Sub-committee on Cricket. Dr Rowley talked about the management of the regional game and the need to get West Indies cricket back to the level it was once at.

He said, “There is great dissatisfaction with our management of West Indies cricket. Being able to bat or bowl is not a good enough qualification to manage the game.”

Rowley said West Indies’ weakness mainly stems from insularity, and he believes “our diversity should be our own strength.

“We don’t want to give up on cricket. We want to play cricket and we want to do it well,” he said. “Cricket is our history. It’s our legend. It’s our legacy.”

He also took issue with CWI’s 50-year contract with the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), saying, “The lopsided contract with CPL must end.”

The conference’s morning session also featured remarks from CWI president Kishore Shallow, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley and Guyana President Dr Irfaan Ali.

A panel discussion titled State of West Indies Cricket included Mottley and fellow panellist Sir Clive Lloyd – West Indies’ 1975 and 1979 World Cup-winning captain – both expressing their displeasure at CWI’s existing contract with CPL.


"Holding tells WI administrators: ‘Clean up your act’"

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