Former presidents and officials of the West Indies Cricket Board have urged CARICOM to conduct a forensic audit of the board in order to save West Indies cricket from “absolute and total downfall”.
Six former officials – Ken Gordon, Pat Rousseau, Anthony Deyal, Charles Wilkin, Bruce Aanensen and Imran Khan – have claimed that the current WICB administration under Dave Cameron has seemingly become “untouchable”, and not doing anything would lead to the “inevitable demise” of cricket in the Caribbean.
“We must reinforce the message that West Indies cricket belongs to the people of the West Indies, not to the WICB,” Gordon, WICB president from 2006 to 2008, said. “It may be timely to call for a forensic audit of the organisation. We need to lift the clouded veil which now surrounds that body. Answers are required and this can be a first step to return to the transparency required of a body which is a major beneficiary of regional resources and private sponsorship.
“Many lovers of the game have said to me, ‘What can we do that would make a difference?’ The WICB seems to be untouchable. I say to them and to all cricket lovers who are concerned, let the call for a forensic audit be loud and clear. We need to save our cricket and this has to begin with getting the WICB right. It would be entirely legitimate for CARICOM to fund such an exercise and I urge that they consider doing so.”
Asked for a reaction, the WICB told ESPNcricinfo that it has hired global consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers and KPMG to conduct the audit operations. “We maintain an internal and external audit system with PWC and KPMG respectively. You may refer to them for any additional inquiries you may have,” a WICB spokesperson said.
Gordon first made the call for an audit in July and has renewed his plea in light of the WICB’srefusal to accept the latest CARICOM reform proposal and the controversial removal of Darren Sammy as captain of the West Indies T20I team.
Rousseau, who served as president of the board from 1996 to 2001, said all sporting bodies need to be carefully monitored. “There should be an assurance that there is certification by an independent group that proper governance procedures are followed at all times. I would commend to all the governments in CARICOM that they create special legislation that brings all the sporting associations under an obligation to observe good governance principles and to protect the finances of the association.”
Deyal, WICB’s corporate secretary between 2006 and 2008, supported Gordon’s call and also urged for an audit of country boards.
“I strongly support the call. Mr Gordon has made a strong case for following the money and has proposed as the mechanism a forensic audit of the individual boards which own the WICB and of the WICB itself. There is a deep threat of the absolute and total downfall of West Indies cricket. It’s a process which is fully underway and at this stage seemingly inevitable.”
Wilkin, a former chairman of the board’s governance committee, suggested that unless the board heeds the calls for change, CARICOM governments should “refuse permission for use of the stadia and refuse them access to regional cricket grounds”.
“The real leverage which CARICOM has, if it seriously wants to force the WICB to change, is the control of most of the stadia used for international matches,” Wilkins said. “The WICB will not be able to host touring teams if the CARICOM governments refuse permission for use of the stadia and the various other permits required under local law.”
Wilkins said he was skeptical about CARICOM’s unity considering the emergence of factions within the regional body. In June, Antigua Prime Minister Gaston Browne had stated that he would categorically reject the CARICOM’s call for dissolving the WICB.
Imran Khan, a former WICB communications officer, also felt the CARICOM’s refusal to give the WICB access to certain grounds could have an impact. “Two things need to happen: mass fan boycott, and CARICOM governments refusing the WICB access to grounds which they own or control or have influence over,” Khan said. “CARICOM can no longer delay taking decisive action to rescue to the regional game from the cauldron of incompetence from which it boils. To not act is to contribute to the further deterioration of the regional game and to be complicit in its inevitable demise.”