Dr Rudi Webster/File Photo

Dr Rudi Webster/File Photo

Commentary by Dr Rudi V Webster

In a recent column in the Nation newspaper “Better for WI”, West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) chief executive officer Michael Muirhead said that he preferred the ICC’s new method of “participation payment” as the WICB could better plan its finances now the Board knew exactly how much money it was slated to receive on a yearly basis.

It was only a few days ago that the ICC announced that WICB would receive US 10 million per year for the next eight years as part of the new Test Cricket Fund. “It’s definitely better (than the previous arrangement) in terms of managing our financial situation,” Muirhead said.  What Muirhead did not mention was the significant financial loss that the WICB will encounter in this new arrangement.

From the very beginning, the president of the WICB, Dave Cameron, was one of the strongest and most enthusiastic supporters of the Big Three takeover (India, Australia and England). On February 19 at a press conference in Port of Spain, Trinidad Cameron said that the ICC’s new governance, structural and financial arrangements will allow the WICB to grow and develop the game in the Caribbean and the Americas far more robustly and vigorously.

He added, “The WICB projects an increase of more than 100% in ICC revenue for the upcoming eight-year cycle of international matches based on the proposals when compared to the previous eight-year cycle.” He stressed that the new financial arrangements meant that there will be more revenue for all members of the ICC including the WICB.”

Someone once said that mathematics was invented to prevent confusion and the distortion of reality. In this respect, one can only assume that the president and the leadership of the WICB were using the wrong mathematics because the figures simply did not add up.

Pat Rousseau a former president of the WICB pointed out this serious mathematical blunder in the Stabroek newspaper of September 8, 2015 in an article entitled “How Voting with the Big Three cost the WICB $43 million.”

A few weeks ago, the Independent newspaper in the UK reported that in the film Death of a Gentleman it was revealed that the Big Three have become rather richer while the have-nots like the West Indies are left to get by on scraps as best they can.

And according to Jaimie Fuller an Australian sports ethics campaigner the ICC is run “to do what is best for the three richest countries.” Fuller stressed that Australia, England and India now claim more ICC revenue than the other 102 members combined.

Pat Rousseau’s robust claim was recently confirmed in the reputable Economist magazine. It stated that the way the ICC distributes money is about to change, to the detriment of West Indies, with Australia and England receiving over $150m (£97m) each over the next eight years, India over $500m and the West Indies around $80m – $43m less than they would have expected under the current system.

The WICB still does not know whether the BCCI will go ahead with its claim of $42 million for the abandonment of the West Indies tour of India last year. Nor does it know if Team India will visit West Indies next year.  The self-inflicted losses to the current administration in these three areas could easily exceed $100 million.

N Srinivasan, the former president of the BCCI and former chairman of the ICC, was the chief architect of the Big Three plan. Although the South African, Pakistan and Sri Lankan Cricket Boards initially opposed the plan, they eventually accepted it after some governance and constitutional changes were made.  Alas, no amendments were made to the new revenue distribution model. Note the absence of the WICB in this dissenting group. It was fully on board with the Big Three.

Unfortunately for the WICB, Srinivasan is no longer president of the BCCI or chairman of the ICC. His replacement by Shashank Manohar in both positions has resulted in a significant change in attitude and approach. Manohar, an opponent of the Big Three arrangement, just few days ago criticized the imbalance of power within the ICC and called the revamp “bullying”.

He told the Hindu newspaper, “I don’t agree with the three major countries bullying the ICC. That’s my personal view, because as I have always said that an institution is bigger than individuals. And, the ICC constitution, as it stands today says that in all the major committees of the ICC, these three countries will automatically be there. So all the financial and commercial aspects and the executive committee will be controlled by representatives of these three countries which according to me is wrong.”

Let’s hope that the WICB learns from its mistakes and takes heed of the wisdom of the new ICC president. Let’s also pray that the Board honours its commitment to the Caricom Sub-committee on cricket and implement the recommendations in the Barriteau report.  The time for denial and petty arguments has long passed.

Finally, one cannot help but notice, with great concern and amazement, the serious troubles in FIFA. Let’s wish that international sports organizations, including the WICB, take note and clean up their acts by conducting comprehensive forensic audits to identify and remove any obstacles that might be in the way of transparency, accountability, competence and honest governance.

About Dr Rudi Webster

A champion track-and-field athlete in school, Dr Rudi Webster studied medicine at Edinburgh University (where he was sportsman of the year and played cricket for Scotland) and later to universities in New Zealand and Australia for postgraduate training. He taught at the Universities of McGill, Miami and Lund.

Dr Webster has done pioneering work in the mental component of performance and the mental conditioning of athletes. He has also worked with the national cricket teams of West Indies, Sri Lanka and India. He is the author of the books “Winning Ways: In Search of Your Best Performance” and “Think Like A Champion”.

Opinion Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the columnist and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of GrenadaSports.

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