CARICOM/UWI launch series to help Windies cricket

Guyana Chronicle
March 10, 2000

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, (CANA) - A week before the struggling West Indies team, minus former captain and star batsman Brian Lara, oppose lightweights Zimbabwe in the first of two Tests, the CARICOM Cummunity launched an initiative aimed at regaining excellence in Caribbean cricket.

In association with the University of the West Indies, a five-member panel, representing CARICOM, the UWI, the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and the Caribbean News Agency (CANA), participated in a region-wide live press conference here yesterday.

CARICOM Secretary-General Edwin Carrington said the conference is being launched at a very strategic moment in the history of West Indies development as "cricket has been the primary leader in the integration of our region".

He noted that last year, the heads of government, sensitive to the importance of this activity in the community, took the decision to organise an unprecedented region-wide exchange on regional cricket in 2000.

Carrington disclosed that there were two fundamental objectives of the initiative.

"How do we regain the excellence which our cricket has achieved in the past and with it our society and secondly, how do we prepare adequately for the 2007 World Cup which is to be hosted by the West Indies Cricket Board and the West Indies people?"

"That is the task that we have ahead of us .... We do not have all the answers but we believe that if together the people across the region, the cricketers, the board, the governments, were to put their heads jointly together, we believe once again, West Indies cricket can rise to the level of excellence which is of very recent memory to so many of us," Carrington said.

Owen Estwick, the first vice-president of the Barbados Cricket Association and a former director of the WICB, represented the regional cricket body in the absence of president Pat Rousseau.

Estwick, while admitting he has not attended any of the recent meetings of the WICB, said the Board "has during the last three years been looking very seriously at a strategic plan" and noted some facets of it have already been put in place.

"It is a happy coincidence that the three most significant institutions in the region, the University, the CARICOM and the West Indies Cricket Board can come together in a venture like this so as to launch what we hope will be a permanent partnership in furtherance of the continued development of West Indies cricket," said Estwick.

He remarked that it "has come at a time when we all know that the game needs every support, whether it be from the government, from the sponsors, from the press and whoever else."

Principal of the Barbados-based Cave Hill Campus and Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, Sir Keith Hunte, said the university is happy to be able to place the resources that it can mobilise at the disposal of the regional community.

"We are satisfied that nothing but good can come out of a constructive round of discussions that is all inclusive which will seek not just to attribute blame but to rebuild and strengthen the foundations and to look ahead.

"Essentially, we are not talking about practical manoeuvres, we are talking about reviewing and extending the strategic visions and directions for cricket ...," Sir Keith said.

The Caribbean Community Secretariat in collaboration with the UWI will convene a regional conference on cricket here in May while other activities planned are national consultations, public discussions and debates, and open lectures.