How shameful it was to witness the gleeful rejoicing of the members of the West Indies cricket team in the wake of their fortuitous and totally undeserved victory over Scotland — a non- test status, associate member team of the International Cricket Council (ICC).
These men — supposed heirs to the great West Indian cricketing tradition of such immortals as George Headley, Sir Frank Worrell, Sir Garfield Sobers, Clive Lloyd,and Sir Vivian Richards — seemingly had no qualms about celebrating the fact that it took a manifestly erroneous umpiring decision, the intervention of a shower of rain, and the complicated calculations designed by Messers Duckworth and Lewis, to “gift” them a 5 run victory over a cricket team that is regarded as a minnow in international cricket!
But, as hurtful and shameful as this experience was, it should not have come as a surprise to any of us.
Let us recall that less than a year ago – on 20th June 2017 to be precise – Darren Sammy, our former West Indies cricket captain, prophetically warned us as follows:-
“I am very scared for the future of West Indies cricket …………I am scared that we might be relegated to the league of the Irelands and Scotlands, playing against these guys which is very, very sad — if something doesn’t change.
“And at the moment, the guy (Cricket West Indies president, Whycliffe “Dave” Cameron) has just been re-elected for another term. I can’t see it happening for us. It’s very sad for us.”
(Published in the Nation Newspaper of Barbados on 21-06-17)
At the time, I came out publicly and stated that I totally agreed with Darren Sammy. West Indies cricket, I felt, would go nowhere but down under the immature, self-centred, and self-righteous leadership of current Cricket West Indies president Whycliffe “Dave” Cameron, and the social class that he is a representative of.
I also took the opportunity to renew my call for the resignation of Mr Cameron – a call that I had first made when he presided over the backward decision to remove the Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC) team from our regional one day cricket competition on the most ridiculous and frivolous of grounds, and I repeated the call when his irresponsible and self-centred actions led to the abandonment of the West Indies cricket tour of India.
As far as I was concerned, the honourable and responsible thing for Mr. Cameron to do – in his capacity as President and leader of the WICB – was to publicly accept a considerable measure of responsibility for the Indian fiasco that had taken place; to publicly apologize to the Indian Cricket Board; and to resign from office.
Needless-to-say no such resignation was forthcoming then, and none ever will! And the reason it will not happen is not because of any special peculiarity of Mr. Cameron’s character or personality! Rather, it will not happen because the members of the Caribbean social class that Mr. Cameron belongs to, simply do not behave in that manner!
The sad reality throughout our Caribbean is that a new bourgeois class has taken over the key leadership positions in government, in the professions, and in important areas of national and regional life such as cricket administration. And it is such a self-absorbed class that its members find it extremely difficult to accept personal responsibility for anything, or to recognize that there are causes or institutions whose interests take precedence over their own personal individual interests.
These social elements have capitalized on the relative apathy and marginalization of the working class, and have constituted themselves into an entrenched elite or in-group, equipped with their own narrow group interests, and with a narrow, self-serving value system.
Furthermore, many, if not most, members of this “class” have convinced themselves that they are entitled as of right to positions of privilege, wealth and comfort in our societies. This, in turn, is manifested in their unceasing jockeying for and pursuit of positions of status – privileged “jobs” – in national and regional political and Administrative structures, not least of which is the leadership and administrative structure of the WICB.
Many, if not most, of them are contemptuous of the working class base from which they have sprung. As a result, they possess no substantial roots in our region’s history of race and class struggle, and are therefore incapable of truly appreciating the value of the fruits of such struggles – whether such “fruits” are the sacred cultural institution of West Indies Cricket or — in the case of my island home of Barbados — the famous Barbadian system of free secondary and tertiary education!
The same social element that is incapable of perceiving that the interests of the people’s institution of West Indies cricket dwarfs their own personal interests, is the same social element that – in national governments throughout our region – is incapable of recognizing and defending the precious social-democratic gains that generations of Caribbean sufferers struggled so hard to achieve.
We, the masses of Caribbean people—the so-called ordinary citizens of the Caribbean– therefore cannot simply sit back and expect these supposed leaders to act responsibility and selflessly, not even where our beloved game of West Indies Cricket is concerned.
Left to Cameron and his ilk, they will complacently look on while the once mighty West Indies Cricket team is reduced to a genuine and certified “minnow” in contemporary international Cricket, as long as they –the so-called administrators– can continue to enjoy an elevated social status and the financial rewards that go with that status.
Some form of determined mass activism has to emerge from the base of our societies if our Caribbean Community is to get back on track with its historic liberatory struggle!
If we truly want to preserve the WICB, West Indies Cricket, “free” education, public health care, welfare provisions, worker rights, national sovereignty, and the list goes on – the people at the base of our societies and such working class-based institutions as the trade unions and the grass-roots cricket organizations (like the “Barbados Cricket League”) will have to bestir themselves and unite around a concrete people’s agenda.
DAVID A. COMISSIONG
Clement Payne Movement