Hall likely to step down as WICB president
By Ryan Naraine
Guyana Chronicle
April 18, 2003

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WEST Indies Cricket Board (WICB) president Wes Hall plans to quit the post at the board's upcoming annual general meeting because of health issues, a well-placed source disclosed this week.

Hall, the smooth-talking religious minister who ran unopposed in 2001, has already notified some members of the board that he won't seek re-election and behind-the-scenes negotiations have already begun to identify a successor.

It is not yet clear if Val Banks, the Anguillan banker who served as Hall's vice-president after the controversial end of the Pat Rousseau/Clarvis Joseph regime, will seek re-election. A date and location for the meeting, due by July 21, has not yet been finalised.

"The date for the meeting is subject to when the financial accounts and reports are completed," a WICB insider told CaribbeanCricket.com. "At this stage, the WICB secretary will give notice to the members that the terms of the president and vice-president expire on July 21st and invite nominations for the positions."

Hall's departure is sure to set off a furious battle for the presidency and many expect Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) president Stephen Alleyne to be in the thick of things when the nominations are made in the coming weeks. The talk around town is that Alleyne, a Scotland-trained insurance executive, will win nomination from the BCA, with support from Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago.

When Hall took over in 2001, he was nominated by Trinidad & Tobago and seconded by the Leewards who then got backing from Barbados for Val Banks as vice-president. If Banks puts himself up for re-election, the Leewards could toss their votes in Alleyne's corner to keep their man in number two slot.

However, the Antiguan arm of the Leeward Islands Cricket Association (Leewards director Enoch Lewis) is still bristling from the circumstances that surrounded the removal of Clarvis Joseph in 2001 and could put a crimp in those plans.

One hiccup in that scenario would come if Banks decides to follow Hall's lead and quit the VP post. During his two-year term, Banks has seen his power diminished when the Finance Committee, which he chaired, was disbanded and folded in the all-powerful Executive Committee.

Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) president Chetram Singh is a key man in the behind-closed-doors negotiations/bartering and the fact that he owes the current executive more than a few favours could lead to Guyana putting its two votes behind Alleyne's candidacy.

Last July, the WICB's Antigua-based management recommended that the current four-Test series against Australia be held in T&T, Barbados, Antigua and Jamaica but the absence of Guyana from the itinerary was met with stiff resistance from the two GCB directors -- Chetty Singh and Bish Panday.

"Chetty and Panday threatened to lead GCB out of the WICB at the September 2002 board meeting unless Guyana got an Australia Test match. Wes (Hall) and the rest of the meeting capitulated and took the match away from Jamaica and gave it to Bourda," one source explained.

"From the pitch and ground surveys amongst the Test and ODI captains and match referees, Bourda placed last in all categories in the last two years. Plus, Test matches in Guyana returned the least match profits to the WICB, barely US$10 000. All this was spelt out to the board twice -- first in July at an Executive Committee meeting and then in September at the board meeting but Chetty was adamant and he won out and got the game," the insider added.

While Guyana barely brings in US$10 000, profits from Test matches in the other territories are by far higher. For instance, for England and Indian tours, Barbados games see a profit of about US$250 000, Antigua brings in $200 000, Jamaica collects US$110 000 and T&T's margin is $70 000. (Revenues from television rights not included).

The GCB's stance was that it basically propped up the WICB by hosting Under-19 tournaments because of the low cost of accommodation and transportation around Guyana for all the teams in that tournament. However, the WICB management's position was that it could use the increased profits from avoiding Test matches in Guyana and underwriting the Under-19 tournaments elsewhere.

By capitulating and allowing the game to be shifted from Jamaica to Guyana, the directors have basically assured themselves of the GCB support on key voting matters and when the AGM is held, those chips are expected to be cashed in.

Then, there is the Pat Rousseau factor. The former President, who resigned in disgust after the full board overruled his decision to fire manager Ricky Skerritt, is being whispered as a likely candidate for the post.

If Rousseau runs and can win support from the Jackie Hendriks-led Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA), he could potentially make the voting interesting. The JCA, sources say, will definitely oppose Alleyne's candidacy and is in the midst of putting together its own slate.

Rousseau, a 69-year-old attorney from Jamaica, was widely credited with piloting the winning bid for the rights to host the 2007 World Cup and for uniting the Black Caucus at the ICC. Rousseau's backers have also highlighted his reform of the operations of the WICB and the lucrative TV/Web contract with Sky as his major accomplishments but there are questions about his aggressive leadership style that has not won him many friends among WICB directors.

Another knock on Rousseau was his handling of the 1998 players revolt just before the tour of South Africa when Brian Lara and Carl Hooper, the captain and vice-captain for that series, were sacked and later reinstated in a hail of controversy.

A year earlier, Rousseau's WICB rejected the selection panel's recommendation of Lara as captain instead of Courtney Walsh, a decision that was roundly booed by Trinidad & Tobago Cricket Board of Control (TTCBC) boss Alloy Lequay.

At the AGM, the six territorial boards each have two votes. The outgoing president and VP also own votes as Class B shareholders, meaning there are a total of 14 votes up for grabs.

How those votes are distributed will determine the immediate future of West Indies cricket.

* EDITOR'S NOTE: WICB president Wes Hall did not respond to queries for comment on this article. (Caribbeancricket.com).

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