Professor Sir Hilary Beckles
Vice-Chancellor, The UWI
The University of the West Indies (The UWI), as a sister regional institution, recognises and respects the long and mostly effective service of the West Indies Cricket Board since its establishment in 1927. It gave oversight to our greatest cultural global achievement as a people in which we all rejoiced during the first stage of our nation-building.
But long established institutions are especially required to demonstrate their fitness to serve in changed circumstances. They are expected to make explicit provisions for both external review and internal self-assessment, leading generally to governance reform and operational restructuring. In all circumstances it is better when meaningful realignment and refinement are achieved so as to avoid public calls that they be dissolved.
Old institutions, furthermore, like the WICB and The UWI, are cultural treasures within our new and emerging societies and should be preserved for posterity, but change with the times they must. This is not an easy task. Stakeholders have the right to demand their transformation but must facilitate their adaptation. As we enter this second phase of nation-building, a new management model for the WICB is required so that it may persist as fit for purpose. This is where we have reached. The report on cricket governance penned by the distinguished Hon. P J Patterson has set the tone and texture for WICB’s financial and corporate reform, and systemic governance change. It sets out a new model that is now seen more clearly as compelling.
The Hon. Prime Minister of Grenada, Dr Keith Mitchell, a citizen with solid cricket credentials as a young man, in his capacity of the Chair of the Caricom Sub-Committee, invited the Principal of his alma mater, The UWI, Cave Hill Campus, to chair a Task Force intended to breathe the final chance of life into the campaign for urgent action. We are now faced with a crescendo of calls for reform. At the heart of the case is a demand for greater public accountability in an age of growing openness and transparency.
Established 21 years after the WICB in 1948, The University of the West Indies currently has a number of mutually beneficial agreements with the WICB. These contractual engagements are valuable to us. Both students and faculty members have benefitted from these relationships. How pleased we were, for example, that the Sagicor–WICB High Performance Centre was located within The UWI, and that two of our students, also graduates of the High Performance Centre, are today the Captain and Vice-Captain of our Test Team.
The University has an open communication channel to the leadership of the WICB and has reason to believe that they are ready for a dialogue with Caricom in respect of review and reform. We pray, however, that it is now seeing the way to implement the more far-reaching recommendations of the Patterson and Barriteau reports. The time has come. There is an opportunity for favourable result. To this end, The UWI places itself officially at the disposal of Caricom and the WICB, and joins with the Hon. P J Patterson and Chairman Mitchell, and all stakeholders, to participate in the formal reform process. An important and noble outcome of the restructuring exercise must be to see the WICB emerge stronger, legitimate, and more respected, worthy of grand celebration in 2027, just 12 years from now, when it reaches the rare milestone of 100 years of service to cricket lovers and Caribbean nationhood.