President - "We see a healthy future"

Gulf News article.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - The success of the inaugural Limacol Caribbean Premier League (LCPL) T20 has renewed a fresh surge of optimism towards improving the health of West Indies cricket, financially and otherwise.

It has brought back the crowds to cricket in the Caribbean, TV revenues have shown an increase — giving rise to hopes of a turnaround. No wonder then that Whycliffe ‘Dave’ Cameron, the young president of the West Indies Cricket Board at 42 years old, is buoyant. 

Cameron and his vice-president Emmanuel Nathan, who swept to power in the WICB elections in March, can lay claim to some brownie points — but he admits that it’s only a job well begun. 

The Jamaican, who has been involved with the West Indies board for more than a decade (he had been vice-president to his predecessor Dr Julian Hunte for over five years), surely knows his job entails more than just staging a successful Twenty20 league. 

The pressure of expectations on the Cameron-Nathan team is enormous, what with former fast bowling great Colin Croft even likening them to the combination of Bill Clinton and Al Gore when they rose to the helm of US administration in 1993 in a column.

In an exclusive interview with Gulf News, Cameron dwells on a range of subjects — the success of the LCPL T20, its bearing on the country’s cricketing scenario and the rise of emerging talents. 

■ Gulf News: How does the West Indies board plan to build on the success of the inaugural CPL T20?

Whycliffe ‘Dave’ Cameron: Firstly, we are most pleased with the success of the CPL. It builds on the Caribbean Twenty20 (2010-2013) in energising cricket throughout the region and getting the fans very excited about supporting regional teams. 

The WICB is currently discussing and examining ways and opportunities of leveraging the success of the CPL to the wider benefit of West Indies cricket, particularly with regard to regional tournaments and match attendance.

There is much to analyse and study and understand how we, as WICB, can benefit from the successful staging of the inaugural edition of the CPL. 

■ Can you give an idea as to how the WICB will benefit from it in financial terms?

The WICB stands to benefit directly from the CPL in two clearly defined areas. First, the WICB receives an annual licensing fee from the CPL for the rights to host the tournament. This fee will certainly contribute in a significant way towards the overall annual financial position of the WICB. 

Second, the WICB owns a stake of the CPL and once it becomes profitable, the WICB will receive a percentage of the profit share. 

There are also other areas where there will be significant indirect benefit. One of the most important areas in this regard is the CPL funding of 60 retainer contracts for regional players every year — which will allow a large group of players at the regional level to be able to give more professional attention to their cricketing careers. 

There will also be a number of development programmes that will be rolled out. 

■ The league saw a very healthy employment opportunity for several past West Indies greats in the form of coaching or consultants’ role. What’s your take on this? 

The WICB unequivocally supports and commends any and every opportunity that allows our legendary former players to nurture new talent and to give back to the sport.

This is something the WICB has recognised for several years now and we have endeavoured to engage a number of former players throughout West Indies cricket at various levels and in various capacities.

For example, Clive Lloyd is a member of the WICB’s marketing and business development committee and is a former WICB director and West Indies manager. Joel Garner is a director currently who previously served as West Indies 

team manager. Richie Richardson is the current West 

Indies team manager while Desmond Haynes and Jimmy Adams both served as batting consultants to the West Indies teams. Courtney Walsh is the West Indies Under-19 team manager as Carl Hooper is the batting coach at our West Indies Sagicor High Performance Centre in Barbados. 

Ottis Gibson is the West Indies team head coach. Sherwin Campbell is the West Indies women’s head coach. Andy Roberts, Rohan Kanhai, Sir Viv Richards, Roger Harper and the late Malcolm Marshall are all former West Indies head coaches.

Sir Rev Wes Hall, Sir Clyde Walcott and numerous others have been team managers as well so there are very few, if any, legends of the game who have not been involved in West Indies cricket at one level or the other in some capacity after their retirement.

I am particularly proud that one of my first acts as president of the WICB was to launch, in partnership with the West Indies Players’ Association (WIPA), a retired players foundation to get our former greats to become more involved in WICB development programmes. 

■ With the newer T20 leagues like the one in Sri Lanka folding up, the Bangladesh one and even IPL under some pressure, how does the CPL T20 plan to sustain itself on a long-term basis and run in a transparent fashion?

Let me tackle the issue of transparency first.

When we structured the CPL, we were very deliberate in creating a tournament committee that is tasked with ensuring that the rules and regulations are upheld.

The Most Hon PJ Patterson, a former prime minister of Jamaica and an internationally respected figure chairs that committee, and I have every confidence that they will continue to monitor the proceedings and to ensure that the CPL functions with integrity and transparency.

I have also have listened to the comments and reviews of the players, commentators and administrators and they have been almost 100 per cent positive and encouraging. That in itself is a ringing endorsement of the CPL. With regard to the business plan and the operational aspects of the CPL it would be more appropriate to allow the CPL officials to address this directly. 

■ Are there are any plans to try and convince the Indian board to release some players for the CPL next season?

This is another question which I would prefer the CPL officials to respond to except to say that the CPL is the official T20 tournament of the West Indies Cricket and as of 2014 the winner of the CPL will represent the region in the Champions League and also that the CPL will receive the necessary support of the WICB in all endeavours which aim to enhance and grow the league within the rules and regulations of international and regional cricket. 

■ How hopeful are you about the emerging talents thrown up by the league like Nicholas Pooran or Sheldon Cotterell?

We are pleased that the talents and skills of some of the younger players are gaining regional and international attention but to those of us who have been involved in West Indies cricket through the years this is no surprise.

This is simply the result of the developmental process which we have been giving serious attention to in recent years. 

Nicholas Pooran, for example, may have come to the attention to the fans watching on television during the CPL but he has been part of the WICB Under-15 and Under-17 development programmes and the same is true for Sheldon Cotterell.

Cotterell is a bit of a late developer but has been playing in our Caribbean Twenty20 tournament for two years. In fact, he is a graduate of our West Indies Sagicor High Performance Centre. There are many others who have come through the system — Jason Holder, Kieron Powell, Devon Thomas.

There are also others who are just on the cusp of following in the footsteps of others such as Carlos Brathwaite, Miguel Cummins, Nkrumah Bonner, Kraigg Brathwaite, Veerasammy Permaul and others. And then there is a long list of very exciting youth cricketers who are set to follow them as well.

Many of them will be on show during the ICC Under-19 World Cup next year. Overall, we see a strong and healthy future for West Indies cricket in the coming years.

First Published In Gulf News.

Mon, 09/02/2013 - 08:16