Nurturing a culture of transparency By WICB
president Wes Hall
Stabroek News
January 6, 2002

As we give God thanks for the start of another year and the blessings of 2001, I wish to say that my first five months in office as President of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) have proven a great learning experience, and I am truly heartened by the outpouring of support and goodwill that both Val Banks, my Vice-President, and I have received.

Reaction to our appointments, both at home and abroad, has assured me that one of my greatest concerns healing and reconciliation within the family of West Indies cricket is well underway and that, as we brace ourselves for a challenging 2002, all stakeholders are of one mindset: "We must all work together to make West Indies Cricket and its cricketers the envy of the sporting world"

I thank all who have worked with us thus far and I look forward to continued good relations as we work together for the betterment of West Indies cricket. The honeymoon period is now over and we are tackling a number of pressing matters, some of which I wish to outline in this New Year message.

"First and foremost is the issue of our away series against Pakistan, scheduled to begin later this month. In the past week, I have noticed that reports originating from Pakistan have stated that:

* cricketing authorities there are saying it is safe to hold the series in Pakistan.

* the West Indies have pulled out of the tour.

Addressing the latter issue first, I would like to reiterate what I have indicated to the President of the Pakistan Cricket Board, Lt. General Tauqir Zia - that the WICB is fully committed to honouring its obligation to play Pakistan. However, I have told the PCB that, given the war in neighbouring Afghanistan and, more recently, the brewing dispute with India, we think it inappropriate to play in Pakistan and would therefore like to identify a `mutually acceptable' neutral venue in accordance with the agreed ICC procedure.

Regarding the first matter, we appreciate the PCB's desire to play this series at home but our primary obligation is to our players. We must ensure that we conduct the appropriate due diligence to allow them to proceed on tour free from stress and able to give unreservedly of their best. I will say no more about this in the public domain until we have a response from Pakistan. However, I look forward to a speedy and satisfactory agreement on this urgent issue and another enthralling series against Pakistan.

Remaining on the cricket field, I wish to extend warm congratulations to all players chosen to represent the West Indies in the International Cricket Council's (ICC) Under-19 World Cup which opens in New Zealand on January 14. Our team, under the captaincy of Guyanese Narsingh Deonarine, leaves Barbados next Thursday (January 10) for this assignment. I wish them every success and urge them to give of their best both on and off the field.

Currently, we have some of the most talented junior cricketers in the world. We are the champions at the Under-15 level and our Under-19s have also impressed in international competition. What is worrisome is the glaring fact that many of our brightest prospects fail to make the necessary transition in their game between the ages of 19 and 23 when many of them are summoned to Test duty.

It is well ventilated that many of these young players are coming into the West Indies team with obvious technical deficiencies which opponents quickly recognise and exploit. We need to address this recurring problem urgently and, in this regard, we have invited the State Director of Coaching of Queensland in Australia, Toot Byron, to work with our cricketing icons to facilitate the development of our cricketing resurgence.

I wish to emphasise clearly that Toot will be the catalyst to unlock the knowledge and skill that exists in the minds of our great former players so that we can successfully play cricket the `West Indian Way'.

Byron and other senior staff at Queensland have been lauded for transforming that state into a winning machine at Under-19, Under-21,Sheffield Shield and now Pura Cup levels. Queensland has won 14 trophies in the last seven years and their programme now provides the template for coaching success and procedures in Australia.

As I conclude, I wish to advise that soon the Board will announce the appointments of a new Chief Marketing Executive and a new Chief Financial Officer. The former position was made vacant by the departure of Chris Dehring to head Windies World Cup 2007 Inc. and the latter by the resignation of Richard Jodhan. There is an interim committee for WWC 2007 Inc. and Chris Dehring will report to the Board at the end of March on his first six months in this subsidiary organisation.

In keeping with my pledge to ensure stakeholders are fully abreast of WICB developments, I have instituted a newsletter conveying Executive Committee decisions and this is circulated to all directors. I have also given my full support to our communications programme which includes our weekly `Across the Board' column, press releases and conferences, the `On Board' Magazine and our web-site. I have also started a separate newsletter to staff at the WICB Headquarters in Antigua and sent directors a report on my first five months in office.

This culture of accountability and transparency will be the hallmark of my tenure and Val (Banks) (vice president) and I intend to visit each territorial board this year and to meet with other stakeholders as we fulfil our promise to fully apprise stakeholders of developments in West Indies cricket.

From time to time, we will also come to you - our public and update you on relevant issues. We will not dodge the spotlight of scrutiny and we hold you as the ultimate judges of how we perform. I know you will not fail to give us your feedback.