House of Assembly
22 April 2015
On The Prime Minister’s Caricom meeting on West Indies Cricket
I wish to inform the House that the Prime Minister in his capacity as Chair of Caricom attended a special meeting held in St Georges, Grenada on Monday 20th April. He was accompanied by me in my capacity as Foreign Minister as Chair of the Community Council. Foreign Service officer Marchea Mackey was also part of the delegation.
The special meeting was called at the instance of the lead Prime Minister in Caricom for West Indies cricket Keith Mitchell who is the Prime Minister of Grenada. He was joined by Ralph Gonsalves Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines and Gaston Brown, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda. The meeting was convened to seek a way forward for West Indian cricket which is in crisis.
The issue facing the region is that the cultural life of the region and the history of the game are intimately tied up with the region’s reputation, image and sense of self. The West Indies team in its present incarnation continues to underperform and to lose in the international arena. This was a sport which the region dominated in the latter half of the twentieth century. It provides a sense of identity for young people throughout the region and provides a good living for scores of West Indian youngsters around the globe.
The game’s greatest players come from the region including Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Viv Richards and Brian Lara. Both Sir Garfield and Sir Viv attended the meeting and pledged their support for the reorganization and rebranding of the sport.
The Prime Minister was asked in his capacity as Chair of Caricom to lend the weight of his office to a call to the West Indies Cricket Board, the operating entity for West Indies Cricket to change the way of doing business in order to reverse the losing trend and rescue the game from disaffection from young people. Cricket is said to be the second most popular spectator sport in the world after Football.
While the game is not as popular in this country as it is the rest of the region, it was important for our Prime Minister representing his office as Chair and our country to lend its weight to the enterprise of saving the sport. The wider lessons are similar to those that we face in this country with regard to sports. It is clear that if young people are not nurtured in the sport, and convinced of its usefulness both for recreation and for work then the sport will die.
Thankfully, the West Indies Cricket Board agreed going forward with the request of the Prime Ministers to a special committee of persons from across the region to work with the Board to examine the question of its governance and to plot a way forward which might reverse the negative trends in the sport.
The Prime Minister was pleased with outcome of the special meeting and will keep the country advised as matters progress.