BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC): Grenada’s Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell has praised the “attitudinal change” of the new Ricky Skerritt-led Cricket West Indies (CWI) administration and says it is a “fundamental” departure from “arrogance”, which marked the previous Dave Cameron leadership.
While conceding there “may have been mistakes made” early in Skerritt’s tenure, Mitchell said the new willingness to engage with stakeholders and commitment to inclusiveness meant critical building blocks were being put in place for the future success of West Indies cricket.
“The attitudinal change has been the most fundamental. In anything you’re doing in life, I always [say] in the politics I’m involved in, humility is a major plus – a major part of success,” Mitchell said. “We get lost easily as politicians by demonstrating arrogance in power, and if you’re in business and you demonstrate arrogance you will suffer. Similarly in sport. I think there was a level of arrogance that I saw displayed by the previous administration and I’m not afraid to say it.
“Some people may not like it, but I saw it first-hand because I was supportive of the change when it took place, but I became lost early when I saw the behavior patterns that ‘I’m the boss’. There are no bosses in this thing; West Indies cricket is about all of us.
“The players are supposed to be treated as they’re supposed to be, the board must be respected, the governments must be respected – we all have a role. But the level of arrogance that I saw displayed by the previous administration, that’s what got me on the wrong side of them.”
While serving as chairman of CARICOM’s subcommittee on cricket, Mitchell often found himself at odds with CWI, especially after throwing his full support behind the CARICOM-commissioned Barriteau Report on Governance back in 2015, which called for “the immediate dissolution” of the board and resignation of the administration.
After receiving considerable opposition to the move from Cameron, Mitchell, along with Vincentian Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves and his Trinidad and Tobago counterpart, Dr. Keith Rowley, became highly critical of the administration, leading to a well-publicized impasse.
Last March, however, Skerritt defeated three-term incumbent Cameron in CWI elections staged in Jamaica, promising to restore dialogue with stakeholders and transparency in decision-making.
Mitchell, who has already met with Skerritt, said he was pleased with the early signs being sent from the administration in all the key areas.
“I notice now, and I must say this, the present president and his team, I saw the willingness to reach out,” he pointed out. “I like the tone. They are not perfect – they may have been mistakes made in the initial stages, but that’s life. As long as we are prepared to work together and build this thing, West Indies cricket will get back.”
He continued: “I have seen some of our [regional] leaders at this point not happy with some of the actions of the present board about some of the initial decisions, but I have never seen … the president or members of the board attacking a Prime Minister for his or her opinion, and to me, that is a fundamental change.
“The Prime Ministers have the feeling and interest in cricket because it affects their countries. They express an opinion – they may be right or wrong – but for you as a board member or president to be attacking a Prime Minister publicly for his opinion, for how he seeing things, does not make sense.
“I see that as a fundamental change with Skerritt’s leadership and the present [CWI administration], and to me that will flow over to how he treats the players.”
Going forward, Mitchell said once Skerritt remained open to dialogue and inclusivity, he believed the animosity that existed between regional leaders and CWI would be replaced with cooperation.