Outgoing CWI president Skerritt: West Indies ‘stronger than ever’

On the eve of the Cricket West Indies (CWI) annual general meeting in Antigua on Saturday, outgoing president Ricky Skerritt said the regional body is now in a much better place and its future is “stronger than ever.”

He made these remarks in his last official letter as CWI president on Friday. In it, he highlighted a series of key targets met over his two two-year terms.

A resumption of the Regional Four-Day and Super50 tournaments were top of his list, both of which were stifled, among a host of other programmes and competitions, for two years, owing to the pandemic.

Hosting the inaugural Women’s Caribbean Premier League T20 tournament, resumption of youth tournaments, a West Indies U19 girls’ squad and a women’s “A” team programme also ranked high on Skerritt’s list of achievements.

Live-streaming of all CWI tournaments, with ball-by-ball commentary, a record high level of digital revenue, the launch of the West Indies High-Performance Centre and passing the 950 milestones for coaching certificates issued to West Indian coaches all happened under his reign.

Skerritt was proud to say all recommendations of the 2019 PKY business situational assessment report, including recruiting a new chief financial officer, had been implemented.

He also said West Indies being selected as part host, with the US, of the 2024 ICC T20 World Cup was a major milestone for the administration.

Skerritt was appointed CWI president in 2019 and reappointed in 2021. He replaced controversial president Dave Cameron, who served for six years.

Reflecting on his presidency, Skerritt said, “CWI was literally sliding into bankruptcy when vice-president Shallow (Kishore) and I took office four years ago. CWI’s cash resources had been badly depleted, and what was left of the future income stream was being speculatively leveraged for cash advances, through a proposed private financial bond arrangement in Jamaica.”

He confirmed his administration assessed and threw out this “bond idea,” and dubbed the board’s situation an “inherited financial mess.”

Crisis management and rigorous business acumen, he said, helped implement a return to full cricket activity in 2022.

Skerritt added that if CWI hadn’t begun its PKF-led situational review so quickly in 2019, the negative impact of the pandemic, which hit months later, could have spelt disaster for CWI’s finances, with an even worse impact on its urgent investment needs.

After West Indies crashed out of the group stage of the T20 World Cup last year, a three-man independent committee – Justice Patrick Thompson, batting legend Brian Lara and South African coach Mickey Arthur – was tasked with a complete review, with recommendations, of the team’s demise.

He summarised, “Our World Cup squad was unacclimatised and underprepared at the start of the tournament, and (the report) instructively listed 34 recommendations which are already receiving suitable attention to ensure optimum earnings.”

Skerritt said the Thompson report reminded the region that there is no quick fix to performance inconsistencies.

He remains optimistic about Caribbean cricket and its development, despite the obvious challenges.

Skerritt said although there are mixed on-field results and some elected directors are still hesitant to upgrade their own board governance, “the sky is not falling on West Indies cricket.

“Although I share the frustrations and understand the impatience of cricket fans, I see signs that better days are not far ahead. Be assured that my tenure at CWI is ending with an outlook for the future that is stronger than ever.

“I will proudly be handing over the leadership of CWI, which is in a healthier state than it was four years ago.”

He urged some inter-island territories to get their act together, for the betterment of both regional and international cricket.

“Two of the key threats to CWI’s sustainability are inter-island insularity and petty boardroom politics. Regrettably, there are still some decision-makers who believe that population size should matter more than accountability, transparency and efficiency.

“If we are not watchful, conflicts of interest can again become real hazards to CWI’s future, well-being and survival.

“The recent gains made in developing more robust financial systems must never be allowed to be fractured by those who perceive CWI to be a cash cow.”

Skerritt’s deputy, Shallow, is contesting the presidential seat unchallenged.

At the AGM, TT Cricket Board president Azim Bassarath will be confirmed as CWI vice-president, since he ran unopposed.

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