Proposed WICB academy could admit local cricketing talent

By RON FANFAIR

The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) did not extend invitations to Canada and the United States to take part in this year’s regional limited-overs tournament because of the impasse between the board and the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) that led to the Caribbean’s top players pulling out of the home series with Bangladesh.

Canada took part in last year’s tournament in Guyana.

WICB vice-president Whycliffe “Dave” Cameron has  promised, however, that the best young Canadian and Americas players will be given the opportunity to participate in the regional academy that he expects could be up and running early next year.

On his first Canadian visit recently to witness the closing stages of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) global qualifier for next year’s Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand, Cameron explained that the new academy will be a regional network placed within the University of the West Indies framework.

“It will not be a structure, but a portable system with a standard curriculum,” Cameron told Share. “That’s the model we are looking at and I am confident that it could begin functioning by January. We are in the process of recruiting an administrator and a head coach and then we will be looking as to how we can roll it out from there.”

Sagicor Financial Corporation, which operates in 22 countries in the Caribbean, Latin America, the United States and England, has committed to support the academy for the first five years.

A WICB director since 2002 and chairman of the board’s marketing and constitution review committees, Cameron said he’s concerned and frustrated by the feud that has crippled West Indies cricket. The WICB recently endorsed a CARICOM six-point plan aimed at ending the contract dispute.

The senior players boycotted the home series against Bangladesh and the board fielded a makeshift team for the Champions Trophy limited-overs series being played in South Africa.

“We are not happy that our best players are not on the field,” Cameron, the Kensington Cricket Club president for the past nine years, said. “We are at a crossroads which we would have reached either now or later. What we would like to see is a model that allows talent to be rewarded and one that will also ensure that we can develop the game in the region.

“What has existed in the past is that the top players received most of the money. We are looking at a model that will allow regional players to make a living from cricket. If you play in the regional tournaments for 10 years, you should be able to make a reasonable living just from playing cricket in the West Indies even if you have never played Test cricket…We would have had to come to this point in the road at some time. It’s not the best of times, but I believe we will have a very bright future down the road.

“The more the board makes based on its ability and performance, the more the players will make. I think that’s equitable. We have said to them we are not looking to stymie the level of income that you now make, but any increases have to be performance-driven. I am confident that we will have our best players going to Australia.”

West Indies and Australia will meet in three Tests, five One-day Internationals and two Twenty/20 Internationals between November 26 and February 23.

The WICB is expected to name a coach in time for the Australia tour following the dismissal of Aussie John Dyson last August. Former West Indies wicketkeeper David Williams was appointed interim coach for the Champions Trophy series.

Dyson and fellow Aussie Bennett King coached the West Indies over the past five years since Gus Logie was sacked after the West Indies won the Champions Trophy tournament in England in 2004.

Cameron said he doesn’t feel that the board should limit itself to consider hiring a Caribbean-born coach.

“The WICB and any board should have the best candidate it can afford,” he said.

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