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Editorial: Ricky Skerritt ends Dave Cameron’s six-year reign to take over as CWI president

[There can be no doubt that the now deposed Cricket West Indies (CWI) president Wycliffe “Dave” Cameron was, in that capacity, a very controversial and polarizing figure – many would prefer to say a very infuriating one. We hesitate to pronounce on what his departure from the helm will mean for the regional game that means so much to all of us in the West Indies – Antigua and Barbuda more than many. The issues that bestirred so much intensity of passion and reaction during Cameron’s tenure may not necessarily have been the result of that tenure or a consequence of the man. But we have to concede and concur that perhaps no other apex cricket administrator in the West Indies has been the subject of so much blame and dislike for just about everything that we consider to have gone wrong with our cricket – the emblem and glue of our collective national pride as a ‘regional nation’ – be it the embarrassing defeats on the field of play or the contentious fallouts and parting of ways with popular and revered players and coaches like Dwayne Bravo, Darren Sammy, Phil Simmons, Otis Gibson, etc. That is why we think this reprinted article is so timely and fitting as a guest editorial for what could be a pivotal and decisive turning point for West Indies cricket, coming as it does in a World Cup year – 40 years after West Indies last won that title. We invite you to visit www.antiguaobserver.com and give us your feedback on our opinions.]

Dave Cameron’s controversial reign as the Cricket West Indies president has finally come an end after six years.

Pitted against just one challenger, former West Indies team manager Ricky Skerritt, Cameron lost by an 8-4 margin after the elections were conducted through a secret ballot on Sunday.

Emmanuel Nanthan, who was also standing for a fourth term as Cameron’s deputy, was defeated by the same margin by Kishore Shallow, an entrepreneur, and president of the St Vincent & The Grenadines Cricket Association.

Both Skerritt, who is 62, and Shallow, 35, are also CWI directors.

Cameron had to swallow the embarrassment of defeat on home turf after he is understood to have moved the CWI annual general meeting to Jamaica.

The turnaround might have come as a surprise for Cameron, who was part of the CWI for 17 years, having taken charge as board president in March 2013, replacing Julian Hunte, before which he was a vice president of the board. Cameron served in the president’s seat for three terms.

Incidentally, when the nominations for the elections were closed on February 24, Cameron and Nanthan were nominated twice: by the Windward Islands Cricket Board of Control (WICBC) and seconded by the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB), with the second hand of backing coming from his native Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA), subsequently seconded by the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA).

The opposition camp of Skerritt and Shallow were nominated by the Leeward Islands Cricket Board (LICB) and seconded by the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB).

ESPNcricinfo understands that before the elections began on Sunday, one of the two representatives from TTCB raised a motion to conduct the voting through a secret ballot. It received majority support, thus deepening the mystery over who exactly voted for Cameron or Skeritt.

Each of the six territorial boards (JCA, BCA, WICB, LICB, TTCB and Guyana Cricket Association) had two votes each. The votes can be cast by two representatives nominated by each of the territorial boards.

In a brief statement issued by CWI, both Skerritt and Shallow said they were “humbled” by the victory. While Skerrit said the new administration would “pledge to work for improvement on and off the field for West Indies cricket”, Shallow claimed the change of guard was a “victory for West Indies Cricket.”

On February 21, Skerritt announced his intention to challenge the Cameron administration, motivated primarily to nip the latter’s plan to “implement sweeping changes to the democratic process of decision-making” in Caribbean cricket. Skerritt said Cameron’s desire to take “executive control“ was “troubling.”

“His desire to lead CWI as a full-time Executive is not reflective of the West Indies cricket ethos,” Skerritt and Shallow had said in an inaugural email to launch their campaign.

“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 their manifesto, Skerritt and Shallow also stated that he would propose capping the tenure of the CWI presidency to a maximum six years. “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,” Shallow had said at the time.

A parting note issued by CWI, Cameron and Nanthan said the board members had “trusted” them to “safeguard” the West Indies team, “the region’s most valuable asset.”

Listing some achievements, the pair said they were “happy” to be leaving having handed contracts to 123 players, creating a “home” for the board at Coolidge Cricket Grounds in Antigua, overseeing West Indies winning the recent Test series against England at home and the “world championships” which included the twin World T20s titles which Darren Sammy’s team won in 2013 and 2016.

“More than anything else we have a fit youthful team that is prepared to face the world,” Cameron and Nanthan said in the statement.

It remains to be seen, though, whether the players, especially some of the senior ones like Sammy would agree with Cameron’s self-appraisal.

Sammy is among several senior Windies players who have had a fallout with Cameron.

The biggest player revolt against Cameron took place in 2013 when Dwayne Bravo and his squad decided to abandon the tour of India over contractual disputes with CWI.

Cameron also played a big role in the suspension and eventual sacking of Phil Simmons in 2016, under controversial circumstances.

Simmons, who is currently Afghanistan coach, has claimed damages worth more than US $300,000.

Simmons said he was seeking the damages for constructive dismissal.

More recently, Cameron played a big hand in getting Richard Pybus as the interim head coach at least until August, a period that encompasses the 2019 World Cup and the visit of India to the Caribbean.

His appointment came in the wake of Stuart Law leaving the position last December, despite his contract being till the upcoming World Cup which will be held from May to July.

Pybus, who was West Indies’ High Performance director, has never been popular in the Caribbean, with former West Indies opener Desmond Haynes publicly asking Cameron whether the job was advertised.

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