Guyana president slams move to play T20s in Florida
Castries (St Lucia): Guyana President Donald Ramotar has blasted the West Indies Cricket Board`s (WICB) move to play last weekend`s Twenty20 doubleheader against New Zealand in Florida.
Labeling the decision as "abominable," Ramotar contended it was unfair to regional governments who had spent millions of dollars to develop stadiums in their territories.
The Guyanese leader made the hard-hitting comments in his address at the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) heads of government summit on Wednesday.
"Governments have invested millions of dollars in building facilities to enhance the game and to promote the growth of the sport," Ramotar said.
"However, today we face the abomination -- key matches are now being taken out of the region while some of our territories are deliberately deprived. This must be of great concern to us.
"West Indies Cricket is not the private property of some administrators, but it is a regional public good."
For the first time in a West Indies bilateral series, matches were played outside the Caribbean with the hosting of the two T20s at the Central Broward Regional Park Stadium in Florida.
West Indies played before large crowds on each day, winning both matches handily to sweep the series. However, there were no official attendance numbers.
Earlier in the week, WICB president Julian Hunte hailed the historic initiative as a huge success, contending that it was "long overdue".
"This was a bold expansion of the Digicel 2012 Series beyond the shores of the Caribbean, and we are excited to have brought the game back to the scores of West Indies fans in North America," Hunte said.
"Given the huge number of West Indians who live in the United States and neighbouring Canada, as well as the commercial possibilities both for West Indies cricket and the game, this was long overdue."
Ramotar, however, referring to West Indies cricket as a "great Caribbean institution", said the game`s development was now being hampered by administrators who were only pursuing their interests.
"Cricket is one of the first truly regional institutions that has fostered the confidence that we can successfully integrate. It has given us heroes and role models and is perhaps the best emblem we have of our regional identity," Ramotar said.
"I know much has changed over time including the huge amounts of money involved in the sport. It has fostered self-interest and even greed.
"Some administrators of the sport seem not to care about the importance of this institution but more about perpetuating themselves at any cost."
Ramotar said it was time the WICB implemented the full recommendations of the Patterson Report, referring specifically to the overhauling of the governance structure.
If the report is implemented, the WICB would become a two-tiered structure with the creation of a Cricket West Indies Council comprising stakeholders and special interests.
The board would be back to just one director from each of the six territories.
Addressing a WICB annual general meeting three years ago, Hunte said the recommendations of the report were not "edicts or directives", noting the WICB would only accept the council as an advisory entity.