PRESIDENT OF the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) Brian Lewis has called for greater accountability for sporting administrators, in light of last Friday’s controversial Twitter incident involving West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) president Whycliffe “Dave” Cameron and veteran opening batsman Christopher Gayle.
Cameron retweeted a post by a fan calling for Gayle to retire in light of his struggles in One Day Internationals (ODI), but Gayle responded emphatically tuesday with a record innings of 215 against Zimbabwe in the ICC Cricket World Cup.
In a telephone interview on tuesday, Lewis admitted, “I was a little surprised that he would have re-tweeted something that could have been inferred as a derogatory or a negative statement about Christopher Gayle. Everybody makes their own choices, but that is not something I would have considered prudent to do, given the fact that he’s the president of the West Indies Cricket Board. I felt that he had a greater duty and responsibility to adopt a different approach.”
Cameron’s action received condemnation on social media, and a number of leading cricketing names, including commentator Tony Cozier, former fast bowling great Michael Holding and former boss of the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) Dinanath Ramnarine.
“It is a well-established principle that you praise in public but you chastise in private,” said Lewis. “I don’t think this was something that would have been helpful. And I think the end result proved that. It was perceived negatively by former players, commentators and the public, and it highlights the challenges and dangers of social media.
“What is happening with the West Indies Cricket Board, especially with the looming elections on the 7th of March, has raised the scrutiny on the Board,” he added. “When such scrutiny is intensified, as sports leaders, we are held to a higher standard.”
On the issue of accountability by sporting administrators, Lewis made it clear that, “in everything in leadership, the ultimate accountability is the stakeholders. Mr Cameron was held accountable on social media by the anger and the disgust which his re-tweet was received.”
And Lewis slammed the WICB for their role in the entire Twitter scenario. “The bigger issue, I think, is the heightened scrutiny, justifiably so, in terms of the governance and the governance structure of the West Indies Cricket Board,” he said. “As one of the major and leading sports organisations in the region, the West Indies Cricket Board has been found wanting.”
Lewis stressed, “the stakeholders, in the context of West Indies cricket, must be the players. People don’t play to see the administrators, they play to see the players. In terms of the commercial opportunities that will build the brand of West Indies cricket, is the players. Therefore the West Indies Cricket Board must see themselves as being accountable to the stakeholders, including the players. It makes no sense trying to sweep the matter under the carpet.
He continued, “while I’m very sympathetic for the challenges that sports administrators in the region face in their respective territories, it doesn’t take away from the fact that we are held to a higher standard.”
Lewis noted that Cameron must take the blame for the perceived souring of relations between the WICB and the players, in light of the retweet issue.
“Given some of the challenges that the West Indies Cricket Board have found (themselves) in, the buck stops with the president. We cannot, as leaders, hold ourselves as exemplars if we don’t have the sense of responsibility, obligation and duty to be accountable for things that aren’t going right. The Board are more than happy to hold the players accountable and, therefore, whether unintentional or not, is being practised is double standard.”
On Gayle’s record-breaking World Cup innings yesterday, Lewis said, “credit must be given to Gayle in particular because he had to deal with an obvious slap of the face from his president. He also had to deal with a letter pertaining to a disciplinary matter.
“Not withstanding all of that, he proved the well-standing sporting adage that form is temporary and class is permanent, and the best revenge (amounts to) success. What he did was responded, like the true champion that he is.”