The rise and fall of Rousseau

Guyana Chronicle
June 7, 2001

(West Indies broadcaster Donna Symmonds looks into the demise of West Indies cricket chief Pat Rousseau)

PATRICK Rousseau may not have been well-known in the cricket world but he was no stranger to the Caribbean or West Indies Cricket Board when he became president in 1996.

This successful Jamaican lawyer and businessman, now 67, became president after having served as the Board's chairman of the marketing committee for four years where he revamped a number of marketing initiatives to the West Indies' advantage.

He didn't inherit a thriving situation. The West Indies had been dethroned the year before in the Caribbean when Australia broke their record 15-year winning streak with a 2-1 win in the four-Test series.

Even then, it was apparent that discipline seemed to be slipping and the overall system was under threat.

Rousseau vowed a more professional approach and stated emphatically that his administration expected performance and if this was not forthcoming "heads will roll".

He also stressed his ambition to bring some unity to the sport in the region and return it to the number one team in the world.

He was successful in some of the financial and marketing plans and says that he feels he has left the WICB in satisfactory financial standing.

Realistically, however, little else has gone well and this `Skerritt Affair' was probably "the straw" that broke an uneasy and autocratic reign.

There seemed to be constant internal wrangling, several administrative errors and pitch disasters.

With the performance of the regional team slumping year after year, especially overseas, management teams were changed with almost inevitable regularity.

Andy Roberts, Tony Marshall, Clive Lloyd, Malcolm Marshall, Sir Viv Richards, Ricky Skerritt and Roger Harper have all had management or coaching roles.

Managers, coaches and the sport's psychologists, performance-enhancers have complained that the players won't listen and the Board has itself found difficulty negotiating with the players.

In 1998 the players went on strike just before the start of their first full tour to South Africa.

To ensure that that tour did materialise, Rousseau had to lead a delegation to London to meet with the players and their Association.

After the meeting, the Board's decision to dismiss Brian Lara and Carl Hooper who were captain and vice-captain at the time was rescinded. There is some irony there.

Throughout the turmoil, Rousseau remained. He was returned unopposed in 1998 and fought off a strong challenge to keep the post last year.

This came from Alloy Lequay, a veteran cricket administrator and head of the Trinidad and Tobago board, who had Wes Hall - the feared former Barbados and West Indies fast bowler - as his proposed vice-president and both of whom have been mentioned as possible contenders to replace Rousseau.

In the turbulent world of West Indies cricket though, it is not wise to predict.

Lequay has indicated that since he was rejected last time it would take a unanimous request for him to take the position on.

He also suggested that, in the present circumstances, the president of the Barbados Association, Stephen Alleyne, who is the chief executive of a large insurance conglomerate, might be the best person.

It is thought, however, that Alleyne's work commitments could preclude this and the names of Chetram Singh and Richard de Souza have also surfaced after their public roles in this latest crisis.

NO OPTION LEFT At the end of the just concluded home series against South Africa, Rousseau and vice-president Clarvis Joseph conducted what they say was a customary evaluation of the management team.

As a result, they made the decision to sack Skerritt, 15 months into his contract, after reviewing his performance on this tour and during the previous four tours he managed. The chief executive, Gregory Shillingford, sent an e-mail to Skerritt to inform him of the decision.

Public comments were made by De Souza, a Board director from Trinidad and Tobago, who was clearly upset that he had had no part in the decision and questioned the authority for the dismissal.

Singh, the president of the Guyana Cricket Board, said he had been asked for some input but never thought a decision would be taken in the way it had been.

A majority of the directors who attended the WICB's annual general meeting in Barbados clearly shared the views of De Souza and Singh and voted to overturn the dismissal and reinstate Skerritt.

With that loss of confidence, Rousseau and Joseph, an Antiguan businessman, were left with little choice but to part company with the Board. (Extracted from BBC Sport)