WICB President's Report to the AGM

President’s Report to the West Indies Cricket Board Annual General Meeting – March 27, 2011

  1. Introduction

It is nineteen months since I last reported to you as President. On the occasion of the last Annual General Meeting held in March 2010, it was felt that having brought the Annual General Meeting forward, only seven months since the last, it would be better to present a comprehensive report at this meeting.

In August 2009, we set ourselves the following high-level objectives to guide our work for year 2009-2010:

  1.  Strengthening the institutional capacity of the WICB;
  2. Finalise negotiations with WIPA for a new MOU/CBA;
  3. Focusing on effective Corporate Governance;
  4. Broadening the resource base of West Indies cricket;
  5. Implementing the WICB Cricket Academy system.

Immediately following the 2009 AGM and the assumption of duties by the new CEO, Dr. Ernest Hilaire, the Board hosted a Special Board Retreat to chart a new course building on the major initiatives agreed upon at the AGM. In concluding the Retreat the Board agreed to pursue the following specific additional activities:

  1. Review the domestic and international Cricket Landscape to ascertain the major transformative actions required to ensure the relevance of the WICB;
  2. Review the current WICB Strategic Plan to ensure that WICB is efficiently and effectively managed in the changing cricket landscape;
  3. Outline the WICB Selection Policy;
  4. Review the Player Ranking Policy;
  5. Improve the public image of the WICB and repair its media relations.

It is against that background that I shall report on the activities for the last nineteen (19) months.

2.0       Corporate and Administrative Services

            I am pleased to report that significant progress has been made in this regard. Management and the Human Resources Development Committee have been able to put in place a revised staffing and organisational structure, a new Employee Handbook and a Human Resources Handbook that provides all the policies and procedures in relation to recruitment, selection, assessment and remuneration of staff. We have progressed considerably from the days of selective staffing to a needs based, competence driven, meritocratic approach. There will be an organisational evaluation by the HR Development Committee in July to ensure compliance by Management and to recommend any adjustments needed.

In addition to the restructuring of the organisation, efforts have been made to improve the physical working conditions for staff and I am pleased to inform members that I am satisfied with the changes that have taken place. Staff morale has improved considerably given these changes in addition to activities initiated to help build a more harmonious environment.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement between the WICB and the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union expired in December 2010 and I am informed that negotiations are underway for a new agreement which, from all reports, will soon be signed.

You would have noticed significant improvement in the public relations profile and media relationship over the last few months. Press releases are consistent, statements are timely and the media’s access to the Management is fluid and praiseworthy. Directors are also continuously updated on major developments in the cricketing world.

There has also been tremendous improvement in the utilisation of the internet for promoting and covering events in West Indies cricket. We now have live cricket coverage, daily content updates, greater coverage of tours, and the exciting use of social media avenues. It is now well-known that the WICB is the most advanced cricketing board in the use of the internet for cricket coverage. The website has been remodelled to allow for the easier provision of match reports, news and other updates.

The WICB has used Twitter and Facebook for providing live score updates for all regional and international matches, CoverItLive to do live text commentary for the Caribbean Twenty20 and WICB Regional 50 Over Tournament, Flickr to provide photos to the media and public and WindiesCricket.com to provide a constant flow of news and information on West Indies cricket. Additionally YouTube has been used to provide video footage and UStream to stream live video and ball-by-ball radio commentary of matches.

I am also pleased to announce that only yesterday, Directors approved a plan for the complete transformation of the WICB website and Management will formally re-launch the website prior to the Digicel Series v India.

There has always been a lack of clarity among Management and Directors on the roles and responsibility for the release of information and relationship with the media on matters of WICB work. Yesterday, Directors approved a Communications and Media Relations Policy which clearly outlines various lines of responsibilities and conduct of roles of various officers of the Board.

The legal work of the Board has increased exponentially as Directors have established that there ought to be greater diligence and accountability from Management for the quality of information and action taken in representing the interest of the WICB. We simply could not continue to commit the errors of the past.  During the last year, in addition to an increase in commercial contracts and agreements, a plethora of notices of disputes from WIPA required continuous attention from Management.

The management of the Governance processes of the Board lies primarily with the President and Corporate Secretary. At a broader level, the Board approved a Governance Committee to address matters relating to Governance. This area requires particular attention and the Board is presently considering ways to improve this aspect of the functioning of the Board. Concrete proposals on the future governance of the Board will be forthcoming for the consideration of Directors.

Of great significance during the year was the work undertaken by Deloitte to guide the transformation of the Board becoming a modern and professional organisation.

The first engagement involved a study of the changing international cricket landscape and the implications for the WICB. The study assessed the present state of the WICB and cricket in the West Indies, bench-marked critical areas of our operations with a peer group of other cricketing nations, and outlined a number of transformational actions required to be pursued by the WICB.

Arising out of the Report, Directors agreed to revise the present Strategic Plan to incorporate the proposed actions and outline new objectives and strategies to face the emerging global changes. I am pleased to inform members that Directors have approved a framework for a Draft Strategic Plan 2011-2016 for circulation to stakeholders with a view to adopting in July 2011 and to commence implementation in October 2011.

In addition, a concept for a Player Compensation Scheme has been discussed by the Board and subject to further review by the Finance and Audit Committee will guide our thinking in the future. As part of the scheme, we have refined our player ranking methodology and will soon hold discussions with WIPA before final adoption.

Our Selection Policy was approved and adopted in August 2010 and widely publicised. It is now widely known what guides our selection of players. This policy and criteria will become more important as we seek to meet the objectives which are outlined in our new Strategic Plan. Critically, our Selection Committee and Coach have established a clear pathway for the development of the team and we have expressed our collective support for their approach.

3.0     Cricket Operations and Development

3.1       Sagicor High Performance Centre

            The Sagicor HPC started with tremendous promise and is indisputably destined to become a vital tool in the transformation of our cricket. Launched in June 2010, the HPC welcomed its first batch of young cricketers for a two-year internship under the leadership of Mr. Toby Radford as Director. We have witnessed significant improvement in the overall skill levels, attitude and performance of the players as evidenced during the historic tour to Canada, the WICB Regional 50 Over Tournament and the ongoing WICB Regional 4 Day Tournament. In addition, the Sagicor HPC has been involved in preparing the West Indies senior team and the West Indies women’s team, as well as the remedial work being done with Shane Shillingford.

Changes at the Sagicor HPC are imminent as the Director has decided to return to England for personal reasons and whilst still available to assist, we will need to commence the process to secure the services of a suitable replacement. With the experience of one cycle, it will be the opportune time to review and move towards finalisation of the programme.

3.2       Regional Tournaments

I can inform members that Directors are satisfied with the hosting of the regional tournaments and that all were completed on time. Management made a deliberate attempt to improve the arrangements for the players and officials. The huge logistical effort involved in organising these tournaments in the region, especially in a decentralised environment, is not always appreciated.

The Regional 4 Day was won by Jamaica whilst the Regional 50 Over title was shared by the Leeward Islands and Barbados, following an enthralling tied final. The Sagicor HPC team made its debut appearance in the 50 Over tournament and its students were praised for their performance. The WICB Women’s 50 Over League was hosted in St. Vincent and won by Trinidad & Tobago. The WICB Under 15 Tournament was held in Trinidad and won by the host. The TCL Under 19 Tournament was held in St. Lucia; the 3 Day was won by Windward Islands and the 50 Over by Trinidad & Tobago. The Caribbean Twenty20 Tournament was hosted in Antigua and Barbados and was won by Trinidad and Tobago.

The overall standard of play in youth competitions is a cause of concern. The very basics of the game are not as evident as they ought to be, and there appears to be a general lack of awareness of the rules and laws of the game. The overemphasis on winning at the age group levels is also hampering real development of players, especially fast bowlers and spinners who really turn the ball and place an emphasis on flighting the ball. A preoccupation with ‘slow’ bowlers who can hold a steady line while bowling flat seems to be thought of as the surest way to triumph 

3.3       Professional League

            During the period, a study was commissioned to examine the feasibility of a professional league in the West Indies. It was determined that the state of the world economy and the effects on the region has made it unfavourable for a professional league in the region. Notwithstanding, every effort has been made to secure interest from a number of investors to support such an initiative. As progress is made, members will be informed of the possibilities and the action needed to ensure success.

3.4       ‘A’ Team

The ‘A’ team had a number of successful outings during the period. They travelled to Bangladesh to compete in a 50 Over Triangular Tournament, where they performed well to reach the final but lost to South Africa. Despite dominating in the Four Day Series, one match was drawn and the other was abandoned due to rain.

On the tour to the UK the team did not make the final of the Triangular Tournament played against England and India. The tour contributed however, to the continued development of several players, with some going on to represent the West Indies at the senior level - notably Grenadian fast bowler Nelon Pascal, Trinidadian batsman Darren Bravo and Dominican spinner Shane Shillingford.

In November, the ‘A’ Team played against Pakistan A in the West Indies, where a very keen series saw the ‘Tests’ being drawn;  West Indies A winning the T20s 2-0; and Pakistan taking the One Day matches 2-0, the third match ended in a tie.

The ‘West Indies A’ program has proven to be an excellent bridge between the regional cricket and full international. Several players are exposed to a higher level of competition and training, and the benefits are evident. The program has also served to give selectors a better gauge of where West Indian players rank by international standards. This is a vital aspect of our development and we will endeavour to secure tours for the ensuing years.

3.5       Women’s Cricket

The Women’s 50 Over League was hosted in St. Vincent and won by Trinidad & Tobago. The other teams would be well advised to discuss with Trinidad their domestic league program, since their players seem more comfortable and better prepared for regional competition than most of their counterparts.

The West Indies Women’s Team travelled to South Africa for a World Cup Qualifier, where the teams ranked 5th to 10th competed in the T20 & ODI formats. West Indies handsomely won the T20 Tournament, and were runners-up in the One Day which was won by South Africa.

The team also toured India in January 2011 and shocked the Indians -  ranked 3 in the world – by beating them in the 1st One Dayer. They did not capitalise on this start however, and lost both series: the T20 by a 1-2 margin and the ODI’s 2-3. The women performed well and won kudos from their hosts for their competitiveness.

The players have probably reached the highest level which can be obtained from regular practice and play and there is now a need to move them to another level- that which can be obtained by skill specific training and intensive physical preparation. Accordingly, the WICB has made retainer contracts available to six players who form the core of the team to ensure that they are available full time to be able to focus on their cricket. Those six players attended a High Performance camp at the Sagicor HPC in Barbados, aimed at acquainting them with the demands of that higher level, and equipping them with tools to sustain that level of development and play. It is expected that their High Performance preparation will continue and Territorial Boards will provide full support to the women cricketers in the coming months.

3.6       Grassroots Cricket Development

            The WICB Digicel Grassroots Cricket Programme is a major achievement by the Board. The WICB has launched the Grassroots Support Grant Facility which will provide grants of up to US$5000 to clubs for assistance in one of the three following areas:

  1. Infrastructure development
  2. Strengthen training Programmes
  3. Procurement of gear and equipment

This Grant Facility has caused much excitement amongst clubs across the region and in the first application phase the WICB received over two dozen applications.

For the next three months, over 2600 youth cricketers all across the Caribbean will receive specialised coaching from over 180 WICB accredited coaches as part of the WICB Digicel Grassroots Training Programme.

The programme, being executed by a dedicated Project Officer, has already commenced in Trinidad & Tobago and the British Virgin Islands. In Trinidad & Tobago the programme covers 52 clubs with just under 500 participants in the Under 15 category alone. The Under 17 category will commence in June.

The WICB Digicel Grassroots Cricket Programme caters to youth cricketers from the age of 12 to 17 and follows on from the Scotiabank Kiddy Cricket programme which is designed for kids from 6 to 11 years old.

In addition to Trinidad & Tobago and BVI, the programme will be executed in Antigua, St Maarten, St Kitts, Nevis, Barbados, St Lucia, Grenada, Dominica, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Jamaica, Guyana, Montserrat, Anguilla and United States Virgin Islands.

3.7       Scotiabank Kiddy Cricket

The Scotiabank Kiddy Cricket Programme, executed by a dedicated Project Officer within the WICB, has been reinvigorated and is being executed across the Caribbean in over 1100 primary schools. As a result over 150,000 kids will enjoy the Kiddy Cricket Programme which focuses on cultivating a love for the game in addition to dispensing critical basic life skills to the kids.

Formal Kiddy Cricket Programme launches have already taken place in Guyana, St. Vincent, Grenada, St. Lucia, Antigua & the British Virgin Islands and launches for St. Kitts & Nevis, Trinidad & Tobago, St. Maarten, Dominica and Barbados are taking place this week.

In addition to the completed launches, workshops were also executed in St. Lucia, Grenada and Trinidad & Tobago with PE teachers and officials from the participating primary schools in each territory. Similar workshops will follow the territorial launches. 

3.8       Senior Team Performance

The period under review saw the employment of a new coach – Ottis Gibson. The introduction of a new Head Coach has seen a revision of the way the team prepares for assignments. There is a more structured design to the preparation of individuals and team, a greater focus on fitness, the introduction of performance planning, and more strategizing for matches.

Camps were held at the Sagicor HPC ahead of each team assignment and this approach will become a standard requirement.

West Indies played Zimbabwe in one T20 and five ODIs. Zimbabwe produced a shock win in a low scoring T20 but the Windies rebounded to win the 5 match ODI Series 4-1.

The results against South Africa were not as flattering, with SA winning each series - Test 2-0; T20I 2-0 and ODI 5-0. Analysis of the matches however, will show that the limited overs matches were very keenly contested but the Windies lacked the finishing instinct and as such the results were lopsided

The series against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka was aborted as a result of monsoon rains; the team however, was competitive in all three drawn Tests. The ODI Series - which was rescheduled in January 2011 - was lost 0-2. The Sri Lankan ODI Series was ideal for the team to use as the beginning of preparation for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011, as that tournament is being held in the sub-continent.

Members would have shared the anguish and disappointment of the region with the recent performance of our senior cricket team in the current Cricket World Cup. Whilst we were happy that the team made it to the quarter-finals we still expected a better performance and greater fighting spirit from our players. However, I ask that you be patient. We need to be honest that we have a lot more work to do to reach the level where we are consistently successful at the international level.

I wish to remind members of the policy position adopted by Directors in October 2010 and which will guide our planning, preparation and selection in the coming period:

  1. To select players with a clear signal that we are building a side
  2. The WICB expects a settled ODI Team by the year 2013;
  3. The two year period between 2013 and 2015 to be used as the final preparation to winning the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup;
  4. Settled Twenty/20 team by 2012 ;
  5. The two year period between 2012- 2014 to be used as final preparation towards winning the 2014 ICC World Twenty/20

We fully expect the Selection Committee to follow these goals whilst management will do that is necessary to provide the resources to the HPC and Team Management to achieve the above stated goals.

3.9       Coaching

We have only been able to organise level-one coaching courses during the period. That level is particularly targeted, since they will provide the support for the Grassroots and Kiddy cricket programmes which have been launched this financial year. The level one course in Barbados also saw the delivery of the Child Protection module, which has been developed by UNICEF with WICB cooperation and input, and which is vital as WICB broadens its base in the younger age groups and female participants.

We will be making a more concerted effort to expand our coaching education programme as the success of any cricketing programme will depend on the quality and availability of coaches.

3.10     Umpiring

In October 2010, the WICB conducted Umpires and Match Referees Workshops in Jamaica for regional match officials. The ICC’s Umpires and Referees Manager, Mr. Vince Van Der Bijl chaired the sessions; he was assisted in the umpires’ training by Mr. Billy Doctrove and by Mr. Adrian Griffith for the match referees.

This initiative was key to WICB plans to raise the standard of officiating in the region, since weak officials do contribute to the declining standards of play and discipline. Further training is planned for August 2011, whilst the Umpire Exchange Program is expected to continue and expand, so that local umpires can complete the full list of requirements in order to be considered at higher levels. As part of the Umpire Exchange Program, umpires Joel Wilson and Gregory Brathwaite will perform duties in Bangladesh and England respectively. The WICB hosted umpires from England and Bangladesh during the ongoing WICB Regional 4 Day Tournament.

We have initiated the WICB Umpires Panel with the creation of a top tier of twelve umpires to officiate at all senior regional matches and international matches in accordance with ICC requirements. It is expected that after reviews, the Panel size will be assessed to ensure that only the best umpires officiate at our highest level whilst giving valuable experience to them. The Board has approved a retainer system for these umpires and discussions are continuing with the umpires’ association to address their concerns in this regard.

The Board has now approved the plans for the second tier and we expect implementation from the WICB Under-15 Tournament in August 2011.

The WICB also hosted, simultaneously with the Umpires and Match Referees workshops, a workshop for video analysts.

4.0     Commercial Programme

4.1       Event Management

There have been the immediate successes of employing an Event Manager and placing increased focus on event management. For the first time in hosting regional tournaments, WICB successfully completed a bid process for matches for the Caribbean Twenty20 2011 and 2012. Barbados and Antigua won the right to host matches. We have also reviewed and approved a new International Venue Agreement (IVA); an MOU to be signed by Host Boards for WICB Events and an Event Management Model that clearly spells out the respective roles and responsibilities of the WICB and Territorial Boards.

A new feature of the CT20 was the introduction of innovative promotional give-aways and the piloting of a Sportainment Programme. We have engaged a Security Manager, as a requirement of the ICC, who will ensure that the WICB meets all our obligations for regional and international matches in relation to safety, security and anti-corruption.

4.2       Marketing

            There was a low priority on the marketing and promotion of the game during the period under review as focus was elsewhere as noted thus far in this report. However, I am pleased to announce that the Board has approved plans for a major marketing campaign under the theme “We are West Indies Cricket”. The major objective of this campaign is to connect West Indies cricket with the public, with a particular focus on the younger generation. The campaign will be attractive, interactive and will reflect the rise of new media as an instrument of modern day marketing and communication.

4.3       Broadcast Rights

We have seen considerable progress in our attempts to secure television and radio coverage of our regional events. We have been able to sign a three year TV deal with ESPN for the live coverage of WICB regional events (2011-13) and highlights of the International Series (2011/12). The deal covers our Caribbean T20 and the semis and finals of the 50 over tournament. During the CT20, we also arranged for broadcast of that tournament on Eurosport and ESS, at no cost to the WICB. We are pleased that our regional cricket received global coverage to an audience of over 50 million people. As well as 100 000 unique visitors via ESPN3.com, that  watched the live matches. We have also reached agreement with CMC for regional live broadcast of international cricket and highlights of regional cricket. This deal is not revenue-generating but ensures that all West Indians have the possibility for viewing international cricket.

In relation to radio coverage, we have signed a two (2) year Radio deal with Channel 2 out of Dubai for coverage of regional and international cricket. It is expected that the deal will ensure coverage of our regional cricket and provide regional cricket live at no cost to local stations.

4.5       Sponsorship

            Sponsorship continues to be challenging within the current global financial climate and the effects that it continues to have on regional economies and corporations. There have been numerous submissions to and discussions with potential sponsors but tangible commitments are slow in coming. In response, the approach has been to seek smaller advertising relationships for regional and international events. We have been able to develop relationships with Tourist Boards in the host countries for the CT20 2011 and every effort is being made to ensure that these relationships will expand for the international series. Additionally, there was an initiative with local beer companies which will also be expanded for the upcoming international series.

A major achievement has been the appointment of a new kit supplier, Woodworm, for a three year contract (2011-13) for the provision of kit for all West Indies Cricket teams. We are pleased with this new appointment and look forward to developing an exciting merchandising programme.

4.6       E-commerce

This area of work received particular focus with the appointment of a full time officer. The first area of attention is the design and launch of a new website as mentioned earlier in this report. Once the new website is operational, a determined effort will be made for the generation of revenue and development of an e-commerce programme.

4.7       Digicel

            Members will be pleased to know that we have commenced negotiations with Digicel on a new Master Sponsorship Agreement. We are grateful for the contribution of Digicel to West Indies cricket and look forward to an early determination of this matter.

5.0     ICC Matters

5.1       ICC WT20 West Indies 2010

            Members will have noted the successful hosting of the ICC WT20 in May 2010. After the experience of the ICC CWC 2007 which for various reasons did not receive acclaim, it was necessary that we deliver the tournament meeting all ICC requirements and host agreement obligations. The marketing and promotion of the event received an international sports’ marketing award with the hosting arrangements widely acclaimed as a successful.

5.2       Future Tours Programme

In a few days, the ICC will meet to finalize a new Future Tours Programme (FTP) for the period 2012-2020. It has been a tremendous challenge to ensure that the best interest of West Indies cricket is protected in this schedule of tours and events. We will continue the dialogue at the ICC for greater sensitivity for members like the WICB which are faced with economic, logistical and developmental limitations. We are pleased that some progress has been made but we will intensify our efforts to put in place the necessary support structures to ensure the survival of West Indies cricket.

We have approached the ICC to examine the impact of the FTP on West Indies cricket and to identify ways in which the future viability of our cricket can be safeguarded.

6.0       WIPA

            Relations with WIPA have continued to be a major challenge but we remain resolved and resolute in achieving a more constructive relationship. Whilst we are a long way from shaping the ideal relationship, there has been a significant reduction in the open public exchanges which characterised the past. It is surely the first step to developing a mature relationship. It is clear that we need a new, workable framework that recognises the changing international landscape and new modalities for doing business.

            However, in relation to a new MOU/CBA, we have not yet been able to get WIPA to commence negotiations on these documents that in effect provide the framework for our relationship. I can assure members that we will move with greater intensity in the coming months to address this matter and ensure that we continue the efforts to improve the way in which we do our business and relate to one of our major stakeholders.

7.0       Finance

During the period under review, the Management concluded the successful migration of its accounting system to the use of Microsoft Dynamics Financial Accounting Software which will bring greater efficiency in its financial management. WICB is also providing professional accounting services to certain Cricket Associations which require assistance to ensure professionalism in the management of WICB disbursements.

8.0       Way Forward

            In conclusion, I am very satisfied with our work for the last few months since I reported to you. We are putting in place the fundamentals for our revival and sustainability. The youth development programmes are now being out in place; the A team and High performance programme are in place; our Women’s programme is showing signs of major success; we are now offering support to clubs and communities to ensure development programmes are in place; the Secretariat has been strengthened to improve our ability to meet our obligations and fulfil our responsibilities; our commercial programme is undergoing a major restructuring with early success in broadcasting our regional cricket, and our relationship with the media and stakeholders is showing significant improvement. But there is a lot more to be done. Our new strategic plan is designed to set the stage for the next five (5) years and is built around the four broad objectives:

  1. The development of a sustainable cricketing environment and improvement in team performance;
  2. Transforming WICB to become an efficient, effective professionally managed cricket governing body by 2013
  3. Building a network of relationships that are critical for cricket to grow as a sport and to implement the WICB Strategic Plan;
  4. Commercialisations of cricket to provide the resources needed to sustain our cricketing activities.

Critical to the achievement of these goals will be the building of new and strong relationships with governments and agencies throughout the region. I expect a concerted effort to reach out and build these relationships.

It is these broad objectives that will guide us to ensure that every child will want to play cricket and want to represent the West Indies and that cricket will forever be the source of joy and pride of our region.

I thank you.

Dr. the Hon. Julian R. Hunte

President

West Indies Cricket Board

 

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