BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – In spite of the current perilous state of West Indies cricket, the Barbados Prime Minister David Thompson is not favouring too much government intervention in the problems surrounding the sport. A bitter contractual dispute between top flight players and the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) has crippled the sport in recent months but Thompson believes the region should tread carefully with government intervention on the issue. “The furthest you can keep political meddling out of West Indies cricket, the better,” Thompson told reporters at a news conference on Thursday afternoon.
Last month, CARICOM proposed a six–point plan aimed at ending the bitter dispute but Thompson’s personal view is that government intervention should be limited. “We have a very important interest collectively as Caribbean people in the success of the West Indies cricket team, but I’m not sure that too much involvement by political leaders, other than at the philosophical level and perhaps even at the level of broad direction, is desirable,” he said. Thompson suggested that political intervention could negatively impact other areas of the game including team selection. “I know where those things lead. There are some countries that will take the position that once they make a contribution that they should have a player on the team. You will start to hear that,” he said. “People will start to argue that the team should have 11 members, one from each territory, or other permutations,” he said.Thompson asserted that governments should not be completely divorced from the development of the game. He suggested that the current impasse is fraught with personality issues and believes politicians should stay away from those matters. “That is not to say politicians don’t have a view about cricket, or cannot help in supporting institutional arrangements to build up or change the direction of cricket, (I am talking about) cricket, not personalities in cricket because that is part of the problem. “If we focus on the cricket perhaps that would be one of the answers, (but) there is far too much focus on the personalities in cricket and I think that is what has led to the challenges that we are facing,” Thompson said.
In the meantime, there has not been any pronounced movement in settling the WIPA/WICB issues except that the feuding parties have both accepted recent recommendations proposed by CARICOM leaders and the new WICB chief executive Ernest Hilaire has spoken optimistically about mending fences.