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Monday, March 5, 2012

Bird Bats For Portia

The article below is reproduced from Jamaica's Sunday Gleaner (of March 04, 2012).

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller got solid support from former Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Lester Bird, who was scorching as he blasted the West Indies Cricket Board's treatment of Jamaica in the ongoing Chris Gayle impasse.

"I wish to touch on the point of the response of Dr Hilaire to the prime minister of Jamaica, the Hon. Portia Simpson Miller," declared Bird in a statement. "In his (Dr Hilaire's) response, he indicated that she did not know the facts and even reference how she should deal with a cabinet minister was at variance with her administration.

"Let me say to Dr Hilaire, your response was disrespectful. You and the prime minister of Jamaica are not of the same rank. If you wish to be involved in matters of this level, you need some advice or training in diplomacy. We must maximise the power of cricket as an integrating force and use it to bind us as Caribbean people, not divide us.

Bird, a former member of the Board, was scorching as he blasted the WICB, describing it as incompetent and West Indies cricket a farce.

He charged that Jamaica was being punished for the impasse between Gayle and the WICB. He asserted that Jamaica should always be included in a touring cricket itinerary. "It does appear that true to the management style of the West Indies Cricket Board, it is a decision to punish Jamaica for its decision to pick Gayle for national duty," he asserted.

Bird was also critical of its treatment of the Gayle issue. "It is time the WICB take the lead to come to an amicable solution to this outstanding matter," he said. "The problem began when the coach, Otis Gibson, ill-advisedly and unprofessionally castigated senior members of the West Indies team publicly.

"Had Gibson been a coach to an Australian team or English team or any other Test team, he would never have tried that or if he had, he would have been fired summarily," said Bird.

Lack of understanding

Bird suggested that it was an act that demonstrated Gibson's lack of understanding of the art or skills of human relations. "Naturally, the senior players reacted - Shivnarine Chanderpaul threatened to take the WICB to court, Chris Gayle made his criticisms public and Sarwan's own self-confidence has been badly affected and probably permanently shattered. The root of the problem is obvious.

"I want to make a call for the reinstatement of Chris Gayle. As far as I am concerned, he is more valuable to our cricket that Julian Hunte, Dr Ernest Hilaire, Otis Gibson and Darren Sammy, singly and collectively," charged Bird.

He said: "If there was any doubt about the incompetence of the West Indies cricket administration or hope of a resurrected West Indies, the scheduling of the forthcoming Australian tour provides ample evidence of an organisation that suffers from both incompetence and insensitivity."

Bird was clearly incensed that the islands with comparatively small population will be hosting the upcoming matches against Australia - (1) one-day international to be played in St Vincent; three to be played in St Lucia and a Test match in Dominica.

"In other words, over 50 per cent of the matches would be played in a grouping whose population represents less than eight per cent of the cricket-loving population of the English-speaking Caribbean," argued Bird.

"If the argument is the cost, then it is improbable to think that a third one-day in St Lucia, or a third one-day in St Vincent would be more profitable than a single one-day in a more populated country such as Jamaica or even Antigua," he added, "Given the fact that Jamaica is so far in the north and it is costly for Jamaicans to travel to the other parts of the Caribbean."

He said Gibson is not a good coach, having failed the test to prove his ability to manage senior players who have their own strong personalities. "He tries to convince us that the future of West Indies cricket lies with a bunch of inexperienced young players." Bird suggested that the problem lies with Gibson's own personality "and frankly speaking, incompetence and unprofessionalism".


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