Our Time, Our Team:
Spotlight on the WICB
our cricketers in whom Caribbean people express their collective dreams
and who so often disappoint us finally came good to win the triangular
one-day finals against India in Zimbabwe. While one-day cricket is often
a matter of the tossing of the coin, a win is a win particularly when it
is over a team that has just beaten you not once but twice. Business
Page congratulates the team even though it is unlikely that in the midst
of this rare opportunity for celebration any member of the team will be
reading this column. Business Page today looks at the financial
administration of West Indian cricket and touches on the wider issue of
its management which over the past few months has witnessed the
resignation of its president and vice-president and some troubling news
about significant stock market investments.
recent tour by South Africa, the WICB unveiled its strategy aimed at
injecting fresh enthusiasm and blood in the game by an ambitious youth
development programme and encouraging the supporters back into the
stands and on their feet. With a spanking new cartoon character
(Clarence the Crab) and a pumped up theme (Answer the Call) it expects
that interest in the game would start building right here at home. You
can judge for yourself the success of these initiatives by trying to
recall the details of these efforts.
Cricket, of which Clarence is the main attraction, focuses on the under
10-age group, the future of our game. This is no ordinary mascot.
Developed in the studios of Walt Disney, Clarence has been with the team
throughout the Caribbean and was not only entertaining the kids (and
crowd too!) but teaching them the basics of the game too.
was developed mainly to galvanise kids to the game, especially in light
of the growing popularity of soccer and the increasing threat of North
American basketball in the Caribbean. In addition to the cartoon
character, the WICB has been promoting several hot tunes to keep the
cricketing crowds of the West Indies on their toes. Answer the Call, Are
you there? and Our time, Our team are being promoted by the Board. The
theme Answer the Call was used in the recent SA visit.
The Genius of
the genius of that other character Mr. Brian Lara has not been able to
help the senior team to recover from the depressing and prolonged slump
which we have had to endure. In fairness to Mr. Lara however, it has to
be said that his colleagues in the team leave what is appearing to be an
unbearable burden for him, and his fitness and lifestyle add to his
woes. Meanwhile, consultants carry out studies to examine the failures
both on and off the field and other consultants are appointed to examine
why the recommendations and efforts of the first group did not produce
the desired results! This is so similar to the case of bananas in the
Eastern Caribbean that one has to be forgiven for thinking that it is
Like so many
of our regional organisations, the West Indies Cricket Board of late was
dominated by the character of its president. Its former president Mr.
Pat Rousseau is no doubt an accomplished lawyer but his management
expertise and style revealed some unfortunate weaknesses which did not
win him many friends and which eventually cost him his reputation and
the job. It is a measure of the manner in which the affairs of the Board
are managed that there is no one carrying out the functions of the
President while the search for a successor goes on. Like so many
regional organisations as well, insularity will dominate this process
and it is a safe bet that the best person will not get the job.
month of June i.e. after his resignation, Mr. Rousseau alleged abuse by
two senior officers of the Board. Chief Finance Officer Richard Jodhan
and outgoing Executive Secretary Andrew Sealy came in for direct
criticism from Mr. Rousseau. The comments arose out of an investment on
the American stock market apparently made by Mr. Jodhan through
stockbrokers Merrill Lynch. The WICB suffered the fate of many who
believed that the US stock market would defy gravity and lost out on a
significant investment. Did none of these committed regionalists think
it would be a sign of its confidence in the region by investing those
sums at home?
disclosure caused the Board to carry out an investigation which in a
statement said that no evidence of dishonesty was found. This is a
serious indictment of the entire Board for it clearly demonstrates an
absence of control. After all, it is not a matter of dishonesty but one
of management. The Board has employed expensive, professional management
and ought not to tolerate this type of ineffective management. What does
it say about the people who manage such large funds who need an
investigation to discover that “there was general agreement among
board members during discussions of this issue that accountabilities and
procedures within the WICB need to be fully documented”
statement makes one wonder whether there is a lack of governance
procedures, so important for transparency and effective results in
situations where assets are held in trust for the people of the
There are two
issues surrounding this matter which are not entirely satisfactory. Mr.
Rosseau knew of the matter long before his resignation but chose to go
public only after he resigned over another issue.
The manner in which Mr. Rosseau has chosen to disclose this
matter does disservice to the high ethical standards of the legal
profession of which he is a member. The other issue relates to Mr.
Jodhan being appointed to the Management Committee after the adverse
comments on the finance functions by the investigating committee.
Indies Cricket Board Inc. is not registered in any of its member
territories but in the British Virgin Islands. This is probably for tax
reasons but it is hard to believe that it could not obtain similar
treatment in any of the member countries. Is there no sense of loyalty?
financial statements for the year ended September 30, 2000 revealed a
loss of US$5.4m compared with a profit of just under US $1m in the
previous year. There was a dramatic fall in revenues from tours and
tournaments (37%) while tour expenses fell by a mere 1%. The statements
which are audited by the international accounting firm of Price Waterhouse Coopers
is a model of stinginess of disclosure which is
most inappropriate and for which our Board’s representative has to
accept some blame. Does the Board have no sense of duty to provide to
the West Indian public information that allows it to analyse why with
income of only US$9.4m we carry “indirect expenses” of US$8.1m?
was received as advances on a media contract with British Sky
Broadcasting Limited, ensuring that the WICB ended its financial year
with a positive cash flow. With its liabilities exceeding its assets by
over US$2.6m, the WICB is not in a healthy financial position. Assets
total US$6.6m while liabilities amount to US$9.3m. Significant assets
include cash resources of US$3.4m, marketable securities of U$1.65m
while a bank overdraft of US$1.3m, short-term liabilities of US$2.4m and
deferred revenue of US$5.5m make up the liability side of the balance
doubled its investment in marketable securities during the period. US
Government securities amounted to US$253k as compared to US$806k in the
previous year, representing a decrease of 69%. Investment in equities
amounted to US$1.4m as compared to a mere US$14k in 1999. The risks in
the Board’s investment portfolio is obviously high and although the
auditors’ opinion was issued in May 2001, the market value remains
higher than the cost. It is not clear whether the decline in the
equities markets mentioned above were taken into account in arriving at
the market value at September 30, 2000.
cricket and the body in control of it have some serious damage to
repair. The wealth of so-called talent seems to be keeping its head
under the water. Despite our recent win, the promise of good results and
a series of consistent, better games is still a little further away. It
is in the nature of the affairs of our regional cricket and the manner
of its transmission that the events on the field allow us reasonable
information to judge what is happening and what we can expect. The West
Indies Cricket Board must stop behaving like a private club and open
itself to scrutiny. My cricket mentor Eddie always emphasises that what
takes place on the field is often a reflection of the administration and
what goes on off the field.