A decision on whether the West Indies will go ahead with their three-Test tour of England could be made by Thursday this week, CWI CEO Johnny Grave has said.

Tony Astaphan SC, attorney-at-law for former Cricket West Indies (CWI) president Dave Cameron, has taken exception to the appearance of what he termed a diminished sense of ‘collective responsibility’, considering some of the accusations levelled against his client in the recent audit report.

The financial report, which singled out Cameron for criticism on several occasions, was commissioned by the current CWI board and conducted by independent auditors Pannell Kerr Foster (PKF).  Among other things, it raised concerns regarding an inadequate accounting system that enabled financial irregularities to go unreported.

Cameron’s legal team has already requested a copy of the contentious document, which has already been leaked, but Astaphan has also been quick to point out that the structure of the CWI remains a board of directors and all decisions were taken and approved at that level.

“If the auditor is in fact making so-called findings on matters that were dealt with by the board and they are so concerned about irregularities and abuses; the directors, including the present ones, from top to bottom, are going to have to come forward and explain their votes to the region and the shareholders,” Astaphan said on the Mason and Guest radio show.

“You can’t just decide to throw one man overboard and say well there goes Cameron swimming down the lagoon again.  Collective responsibility is very important,” he added.

The lawyer strongly rejected the notion that the board members were bullied into voting by the former president, as has been previously suggested.

“It was said that the directors were subservient, subservient, grown men, grown independent men, successful businessmen, politicians and all were subservient to Cameron, that is why they went along with the votes.  As a Caribbean man I would consider that to be contemptuous of my position on the board.”

“There is an implication that there was this and that but everyone went along with Dave Cameron like the pied piper and the rats into the pond.”

Former president of Cricket West Indies (CWI) Dave Cameron has threatened legal action against the regional governing body unless it hands over a copy of an audit report critical of his period in office.

The audit, requested by Cameron's successor and conducted by external and independent auditors Pannell Kerr Foster (PKF) raised concerns about an inadequate accounting system that enabled abuses to go unreported and posed a threat to "the board's long-term sustainability."

The audit report singled out Cameron for criticism several times.  The Jamaican was president of CWI (previously WICB) from March 2013 until March 2019. Cameron was defeated during a re-election attempt by current president, Ricky Skerritt.

Cameron said he first became aware of the report when contacted for comment by ESPNcricinfo in April.

The businessman is demanding that he is provided with a copy of the audit report from CWI within 48 hours in order to "respond fully" to the "allegations made by PKF."

A letter from Cameron's attorneys stated "our client maintains that he has serious concerns about the credibility of this report, which involved the Chairman of the Audit and Risk Committee selected and/or appointed by the President or Board.

"In the circumstances, and having regard to the basic principles of fairness and the right of our client to protect his reputation, our client demands, without prejudice to any rights he may now have, a full copy of this report within 48 hours, and the right to respond fully to all of the questions, comments or allegations made by PKF, and statements made by Mr Holding and the President within 21 days.

"Should CWI whether by way of the Board or management or otherwise seek in the meantime to publish the report, or refuse to meet our client's demands for a copy of the report and time to respond, our client will have no alternative but to seek the appropriate orders and remedies from the High Court."

It has been reported that the letter from Cameron's attorneys was received on Monday.

Extracts from the audit report appeared in publications across the region.

West Indies fast-bowling legend and cricket commentator Michael Holding alluded to a couple of sections - though he has not mentioned Cameron. 

Ricky Skerritt, the current CWI president, acknowledged in a media statement that the report "uncovered some illustrations of questionable executive standards and practices." 

Cameron's attorneys further stated that "the President's statement and especially the use of the word "uncovered" carries the imputation that PKF uncovered previously hidden and unknown material, which justified or warranted the making of serious questions, comments or allegations directed at or against our client as the President of CWI.

"There is no question that Mr Holding believed that the contents of one part of this PKF report raised the real prospect that the offence of money-laundering either occurred, or may have occurred, and/or exposed CWI to the risk of involvement in money-laundering. At all material times, our client was the President of CWI. These allegations have now gone viral throughout the region and elsewhere.

"As indicated above, our client has not seen the report, nor has he been given any opportunity to respond to it, either by PKF or CWI. In fact, at no time did PKF seek to ascertain any fact or comment from him. However, the report or parts thereof were made known to ESPNCricinfo and Mr Holding."

Cricket West Indies has begun for a permanent head coach for the West Indies Women. That person will replace interim head coach Gus Logie who has been in charge of the women’s team since October 2019.

The West Indies tour of England this summer is becoming increasingly likely following positive discussions between the medical team and staff of the English Cricket Board and the CWI on Monday.

Both boards have been in discussions since the start of the month intent on charting a pathway to the West Indies travelling to England for three Tests in July.

Initially scheduled for June, the tour was been postponed because of fears over player safety caused by the spread of the Coronavirus COVID-19.

However, late last week, CWI notified 30 players that they should be prepared to travel and play in England in July if it is decided that the tour would go ahead. It was also revealed that further discussions were set to take place on Monday.

CWI CEO Johnny Grave confirmed to Sportsmax.TV Tuesday that those Monday talks went well.

“The ECB is confident that they can deliver a safe plan for bio-secure behind closed doors cricket that will meet the UK Government guidelines and will therefore likely secure their board's approval,” Grave told Sportsmax.TV today.

“We will have further meetings and discussions this week with the ECB as we try and plan for the Test Tour taking place this summer in an environment where the number-one priority is the health and safety of all players and staff."

During an interview on Sportsnation Live on Nationwide Radio in Jamaica on Saturday, Grave reiterated that safety was the primary concern of the CWI.

“We would have to be absolutely certain that our players and support staff would be in a safe environment in order for us to play cricket,” he said while explaining the conditions under which the team would travel and play in the UK.

“What it means at this stage is that we would use charter flights to first collect players in the Caribbean and then to make our way across the Atlantic. We wouldn’t be on aircraft with any other passengers. There would be private charters for our players and team.

“Then once we land in the UK we would undergo a two-week quarantine period, which would be at a cricket facility, so the players would have the opportunity to play and train. They would be the only ones in that secure environment.”

Grave said the hotel staff, ground staff and other personnel would be tested regularly and would have to remain on-site for the duration. “Once they enter that bio-secure environment no one would be allowed to come or go, so they’d be in lockdown within a cricket venue with a hotel on-site,” he said.

According to Grave, the CWI medical and support staff have determined that the Windies would need at least four weeks to get the players into the condition that they need to be to face England in the Test matches.

 

Leeward Islands captain Kieran Powell has been left disappointed by his non-selection to the provisional 29-man squad for the West Indies tour of England which looks set to go ahead this summer.

Cricket West Indies announced the squad recently in lieu of agreements with the England and Wales Cricket Board about a tour that was scheduled for June but has now been postponed amid plans to make it safe despite the worldwide spread of COVID-19.

The squad had seen the return of pacer Shannon Gabriel, spinner Veerasammy Permaul and middle-order batsman Jermaine Blackwood.

There were also some new faces to the squad like Preston McSween, Paul Palmer, Shane Mosely and Keon Harding.

Powell, who last represented the West Indies on the 2018 tour of Bangladesh, was a notable absentee.

Since Powell’s exclusion from the West Indies set-up, he has scored fairly heavily in regional cricket, a fact that has elicited surprise at his non-selection.

“I haven’t really been as productive as I would like in the four-day format but I still managed to stand out above everyone else who played in the tournament so it’s disheartening for myself to learn that I hadn’t been selected based on the volume of runs I scored,” said Powell.

Despite leading the Caribbean in the Regional Super50 competition with 524 runs last year, Powell was not selected for series against India, Ireland and Sri Lanka.

There had been reports that Powell should have been a replacement for Evin Lewis in the Sri Lanka series. Lewis had failed a fitness test but the reports are suggesting Powell also failed that test.

“I don’t mind not being selected. This is part and parcel of being in West Indies cricket. It has been here long before me and I’m pretty sure it will be long after but communication is the most important thing,” Powell said regarding the failure of the fitness test.

According to Powell, he is yet to hear from CWI what aspects of the test he failed and what he needed to work on.

“Obviously there are more factors to it, which is what I am trying to ascertain. What are those standards, so I can work on whatever I need to work on so I can get my international career back off the ground?” he said.

While not calling names or suggesting this administration inclusive of coaches and board has anything more than the best interest of cricket at heart, Powell did point out that there was a certain stigma that has made his sojourn in West Indies cricket more difficult.

“I remember a coach of the West Indies team telling me that I don’t need to play for the West Indies team because I was financially good and that I should leave it for people who aren’t financially good and I didn’t understand,” said Powell.

According to the elegant left-hander, his finances should not be used to count against him playing for the region.

“No one would look at a LeBron James or a Cristiano Ronaldo, and so many others, that based on all the investments they have that they don’t need to play anymore. Obviously, we know the history of athletes going bankrupt,” he said.

Chief of selectors, Roger Harper, asked about the exclusion of Kieron Pollard, said the issue was one based completely on cricket and that there was no personal feeling toward Powell one way or the other.

“I don’t know of any problem with Powell. When we picked our squad, we picked what we thought was the best squad for those conditions,” said Harper.

The West Indies tour of England will see them fight to retain the Wisden Trophy they took from England last year.

Reports have emerged that Cricket West Indies has contacted 29 regional players telling them to prepare for a possible tour of England this coming July.

Cricket West Indies (CWI) and Cricket South Africa (CSA) have agreed to postpone both the Women’s Colonial Medical Insurance One Day International (ODI) Series against South Africa Women, scheduled to begin at the end of the month in Jamaica and Trinidad, as well as the Men’s ‘A’ Team Series scheduled to commence in Antigua in June.

Germany are set to restart their Bundesliga campaign and other European countries are looking to follow suit earliest.

The England and Wales Cricket Board, Cricket Australia, are actively looking at ways to restart cricket in their countries. Cricket West Indies have said nothing, except to say salaries might be cut in the near future.

Smaller cricket nations like the West Indies and Bangladesh, as you would imagine, are closer to the ground in terms of how much of a cushion they have for (unimaginable) eventualities like COVID-19.

I can understand the region taking a hit, but what I can’t understand, is how quiet the governing body for the sport here has been.

Chief Executive Officer, Johnny Grave, has made a couple of statements, one in respect to the Women’s cricket and how precarious postponements and cancellations make the sport in the region, and another about the salaries it pays out to regional players and the potential for reduction.

I get that. I get both statements. What I haven’t heard from Grave and his president Ricky Skerritt, is what, if any, strategies are being put in place for the regional game’s recovery?

And the truth is, there may be no answer to this, however, I want to know that Cricket West Indies have not just folded their hands in a time of crisis.

I have some ideas, and they may all be terrible ideas, but at the very least, I have them.

Leaders at a time like this must show their mettle.

In Jamaica, the hardest-hit Caribbean country by COVID-19, their leaders have made public, on a day-to-day basis, their strategy for fighting the spread of the disease and strategies to help those impacted.

When schools closed, there was an immediate response, with the government posting online material for primary and secondary-level education to continue.

It is too early to tell if these things work or are working, but I see the effort.

The Heads of State in the region, brought together a team, the Committee on Governance of West Indies Cricket, commissioned a report for the running of West Indies Cricket because they had said the organization, then called the West Indies Cricket Board, had fallen away badly.

The Heads of State need to now be putting their heads together to, again, ensure the survival of West Indies Cricket, they too have been silent.

Once as a young man, I faced a gunman and I had every opportunity to make good my escape, but at the time, I had never been faced with my own mortality before and I froze.

That is not likely to happen again, because having faced my mortality, I am less afraid today.

The same should be true of West Indies Cricket and its leaders. I can understand it freezing out of fear after its calamitous free-fall over the last 25 years, but now, having begun to arrest the slide, we must be bold.

Here’s one of my ideas.

Why don’t we agree to pick a country yet to be impacted or significantly impacted by the Coronavirus, have each territory pick teams, bring those teams to that island, quarantine them for 14 days, while doing the requisite Testing, put them up in a sterile location, hotels don’t have guests these days with all the lockdowns, arrange transportation to and from a venue already made sterile, do the same with a broadcaster (say SportsMax as a shameless plug), and sell the rights to a tournament?

There is no other cricket being played anywhere, so I doubt you’ll have a problem selling the only live content out there.

Like I said, could be a bad idea and maybe I’m not taking into consideration enough variables.

However, I believe sitting on your hands during this time is worse.

President of Cricket West Indies (CWI) Ricky Skerritt has insisted he has no regrets regarding the controversial move to replace the team’s regional head coach, just a few weeks before the 2019 World Cup, because it gave a West Indian the chance to shine on the world stage.

With less than two months to go before the tournament, Skerritt replaced then-interim coach Richard Pybus with Floyd Reifer.  The move was opposed by many, at the time, not just for its potentially disruptive nature, but also the fact that Pybus was perceived to have done a good job with the team, particularly in a 2-1 Test series win against England in the Caribbean prior to the start of the tournament.

The West Indies went on to have a disastrous showing at the tournament, finishing second from the bottom of the table with two wins and six losses.  Despite an inexperienced Reifer not going on to distinguishing himself in the role, Skerritt, in hindsight, still believes the decision was the correct one.

 “I have no regrets because that was about promoting the West Indies A Team coach to give him an opportunity to go to England and to Ireland before then [the World Cup] and to show what he is worth and give him an opportunity to get the experience so that we could have at least one coach in our armoury that has World Cup experience and to give West Indians a chance to shine on a world stage,” Skerritt said on a recent edition of the  Good Morning Jojo Sports Show.

Former West Indies player Phil Simmons was officially appointed to the post of head coach two months after the conclusion of the World Cup.

The England Cricket Board (ECB) is expected to announce the postponement of the upcoming series against the West Indies, as the body continues to figure out the game’s scheduling in wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The series, which consists of three Test matches, was scheduled to begin in London on June 4, followed by matches at Edgbaston and Lord's starting on 12 and 25 June respectively.  As the world battles to contain the pandemic, playing the series in the heavily hit England looked increasingly unlikely.

Initially, it had been suggested that the West Indies would be willing to step in and host the series, but Cricket West Indies CEO Johnny Grave was quick to paint the suggestion as a highly unlikely scenario.

With all professional halted until May 28, the ECB has had to reckon with the prospect of starting the season later than expected.

The West Indies could have the option of playing the series in two potential windows, either side of their home Test series against South Africa at the end of July.  The series could be squeezed in at the start of that month or in September, which would allow England to play their three-Test series against Pakistan as planned in August.

For West Indies cricket to get back to being a dominant force, Chairman of selectors and former West Indies bowler, Roger Harper believes changes need to be made from the ground up.

According to Harper, all the blame for West Indies’ performance woes cannot be put at the feet of Cricket West Indies and that individual territories need to take responsibility for the cricketers they produce.

"I think a lot of buck-passing has been done. We are very proud to say when a Brian Lara is breaking all those records that he is from Trinidad but when a player is not doing well, you say what the West Indies cricket board is doing,” said Harper.

The former off-spinner who ended his career with 100 ODI wickets from 105 games and 46 Test wickets from 25 matches, believes that when the Caribbean was in its hay day, the territories were much stronger on their own.

“I think there is some inconsistency and we need to get back what we were doing in the past and take the responsibility of developing quality, world-class players," he said.

In terms of creating more world-class players, Harper believes the players in the region need to be more ambitious as well.

According to Harper, who was speaking on T&T radio station i9555, the goal shouldn’t just be to get into the senior team, but to be dominant, because without more than just a few world-class players, consistent top performances won’t exist.

“We need to have world-class players in the West Indies team. That's how our cricket and our team will get to the top, if we have a number of world-class players in the team giving us world-class performances on a consistent basis,” he said.

“[…] We have to encourage our players to do: think bigger, aim higher, think of putting in world-class performances and raise their standards to be match-winning world-class players,” said Harper.

"If you are just making 30s, and the press is slamming that he deserves a strike... I would like my job to be that I don't have to pick somebody. If you are making 30, we have a person who is making 31, then I have to decide which one to select.

"But if you are averaging in the 60s or 70s, all I have to do is write your name down, you pick yourself.

Harper said the players can compete with the rest of the world at the U19 level but then there is an issue transitioning. While the other teams have players who make the leap to the big stage.

"We have to ensure our guys can make that leap as well. A lot of it has to do with their thinking and maturity in terms of cricket. We have to help them along by developing their mental skills and tactical awareness, and help them apply their skills better."

President of Cricket West Indies, Ricky Skerritt, says despite the economic downturn from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, West Indies players on retainer will not be asked to take a pay cut just yet.

This, according to Skerritt, doesn’t mean there will be no changes because a technical committee had been vetting retainer contracts in lieu of them coming to an end in a few months.

“There has been no move in that direction at this time. We are actually in the process right now, that is the technical team is in the process of reviewing retainer contracts [because] the retainer contracts come to an end within the next couple of months. So, it is being looked at as normal, but I expect that we will have to do a bit of a check on where we are and what we can afford to do going forward,” he said in an interview with the Good Morning JoJo Sports Show in Antigua.

Skerritt’s comments do not mean that the CWI is in great financial standing despite the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on sport worldwide, and in fact, the president has pointed to other areas where there might be an impact in short order.

“CWI is facing a rapidly changing world environment for sports and with no sports taking place, with revenues related to broadcast rights and sponsorship and so on, gate receipts, all of those revenues are important, so every sporting organisation around the world is facing issues. Those that were already facing cash flow issues or other organizational issues will just have it tougher and CWI is one of those,” said Skerritt.

English male cricketers have collectively donated £500,000, the women have agreed pay cuts for the next three months to help the English Cricket Board deal with the fallout from a lack of play, while the NBA is proposing a 50 per cent pay cut while games are suspended.

Former West Indies middle-order batsman, Ramnaresh Sarwan, has lauded Cricket West Indies President Ricky Skerritt for the work he has done since coming to the post a year ago.

According to Sarwan, Skerritt has had to make ‘hard decisions’ and he has made them.

Skerritt’s tenure as CWI president has been under scrutiny because of the stunning manner in which he ousted three-term incumbent Dave Cameron in March of 2019. “He has been doing a good job and has had to make hard decisions, and it’s good to see when you have to make harsh decisions, you make them in the right way,” said Sarwan in an interview with Kaieteur News.

According to Sarwan, Skerritt’s tenure so far has not been without its challenges but those were to be expected given the state of the CWI when he took the reins.

“When he came in it was a difficult time, not only the financial challenges they had to deal with but, so far, you got to give him the props where someone deserves props,” he said.

Sarwan, who played 87 Tests, 181 ODIs and 18 T20Is for the West Indies between 2000 and 2013, was one of the former players asked by the Skerritt administration to act as consultant to the West Indies ahead of their tour to Ireland last May.

The batsman averaged 40.01 and 42.67 in Tests and ODI’s respectively, scoring 15 centuries in the longest format of the game and five in the 50-over version.

Cricket West Indies (CWI) and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have agreed to postpone the planned West Indies U19 tour of England, scheduled for August and September 2020 due to scheduling clashes.

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