CASTRIES, St Lucia (CMC):In the clearest sign yet it intends to resist the recommendations of CARICOM’s Governance Review Panel, the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) says it has retained the services of Dominican lawyer Anthony Astaphan.During its regular quarterly directors’ meeting in Rodney Bay Saturday, the WICB announced that Astaphan would serve as an “adviser to look at the recommendations for the CARICOM final report on governance of cricket”.Astaphan, a senior counsel and former president of the Bar Association of Dominica, delivered a presentation to directors during the morning session of the meeting on Saturday.A WICB release quoted Astaphan as saying that the way forward “will look at how both organisations can work together for the benefit of the improvement of cricket on and off the field”.”A full paper will be prepared and will be available for presentation to the prime ministers’ committee,” the WICB said.The move is a significant development, especially following on the heels of a meeting between CARICOM and the WICB in Grenada recently – the first between the two bodies following the release of the controversial Governance Report which has recommended the “immediate dissolution” of the WICB.The report also calls for “the appointment of an interim board whose structure and composition would be radically different from the now proven, obsolete governance framework”.Chairman of CARICOM’s Cricket Governance Committee, Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell, said last month he was confident the WICB would get on board with the recommendations.”Since they (WICB) were part of the process that agreed to set up this committee and to accept its recommendations and to implement it, I don’t see how they can afford to do otherwise,” Mitchell said at a press conference in St George’s to announce the recommendations of the report.WICB President Dave Cameron has since expressed concerns about the involvement of governments in the affairs of the regional cricket body, stressing that it was important for sporting bodies to remain autonomous.”We’re not saying we don’t want the governments to participate. We’re saying that the decisions of the organisations must not be influenced by governments,” the Jamaican said last month.The Governance Report Panel was chaired by University of the West Indies’ Cave Hill campus principal, Professor Eudine Barriteau, and also comprised Sir Dennis Byron, president of the Caribbean Court of Justice; West Indies cricket legend Deryck Murray; Warren Smith, president of the Caribbean Development Bank, and Dwain Gill, president of the Grenada Cricket Association.
American boxer Rashid Stevens made a successful start to his professional boxing career last Wednesday night at the Chinese Benevolent Association auditorium when he scored an easy victory over Jamaica’s Camion Goldson in the penultimate round of the preliminaries of the Wray and Nephew Contender 2016 competition. Judges Lindell Allen and Peter Richards voted 49-46 for Stevens, while judge Owen Nelson scored it 50-45. Stevens was the second boxer from the USA team to make it to the next round and joins Demarcus ‘Chop Chop’ Corley in the mix. Boxers from the Caribbean team have won the other five places in the quarter finals that have been competed for to date. The preliminaries will end next week. Stevens came to fight, but Goldson seemed overwhelmed by the occasion because he, too, was making his professional debut. He forgot that to win a fight, the most important thing is to score points with punches to the target area. He did not do so enough and therefore lost the fight. Stevens started out quickly and showed good ring sense. Fighting from a south-paw stance, he moved a lot and scored with flurries to body and head. He made it difficult for Goldson to land any punches, and the Jamaican was not creative enough to find a way in. In the second round, Goldson was able to shorten the range and landed some good shots to the body of his opponent. There were some good exchanges in this round, and Goldson finished in a very positive way to take the honours. It turned out to be the only round that he would win. By the third round, a very confident and poised Stevens took control of the fight and scored with quick flurries to the head and body. His combinations were good, and Goldson just could not manage to launch a sustained attack. Stevens kept building momentum and cruised through the next two rounds comfortably as a somewhat bewildered Goldson could simply find no answers. It turned out to be as one-sided affair as the scores showed. After next week’s bout, the boxers will be seeded and the top four will select their opponents by using a draw. There should be some interesting matches in the next round as the boxers fight for the places that will earn them the major prize money. The winner will take home the Contender 2016 title and $2 million, the runner-up $500,000, third place $250,000, and fourth place $200,000.
Time for the final The admission by the Professional Football Association of Jamaica (PFAJ) that they did consult with Portmore United and not Montego Bay United re the changes to the scheduling and the time for the final is one count. Count number two is the blatant double standard, in that Montego Bay United actually requested for a rescheduling of the final in previous seasons on the grounds that the MoBay fans had to travel to and from Kingston on a Monday night and his request was unequivocally denied. To have this year’s final shifted to Montego Bay and the start time adjusted that is a valid case of what being good for the goose not being good for the gander, which is most unjust. Word from the Montego Bay United camp is that these specific cases are mere symptoms of wider issues the western club has been having overtime with the football authorities. One could argue that it is of their own doing, with Mr Powell’s eccentricity and his outspoken traits which make him not the easiest person to work with. The principle, however, supersedes the individual and the communication amongst the stakeholders and the public was poor from the start. It was only last Friday, two days before the final and more than a week into the spiralling controversy, that it was made public that the title sponsors had plans to broadcast the final to 24 countries around the world, which understandably could have had a major influence on the date and time set for the final. Why then were these dynamics not communicated to ALL the stakeholders, including Montego Bay United, in a timely manner? All is well that ends well though. Montego Bay United weathered the swirling, emotional storm surrounding this game and fully deserve to be champions. So after all, we did have an exciting final game and we do have a 2015-16 Red Stripe Premier League champion. Congratulations are in order to Montego Bay United, who duly and spectacularly crowned themselves champions of local football amidst all the preceding controversy. The actual football action on the pitch will still have to compete with the theatrics of the two weeks leading into the final. Montego Bay United president, Mr Orville Powell, voluntarily played the part of the maligned messenger, but amidst the quagmire of contentious and vitriolic outbursts he did deliver some poignant and relevant messages. It is quite clear that Mr Powell and Montego Bay United were indeed disrespected and treated unfairly. Invaluable Controversy The publicity and hype created by the controversy were invaluable. It was perhaps not the best kind of publicity from a corporate perspective, but it was a great sell for the game itself, which attracted a large crowd. There has not been a Premier League final in recent history that generated this amount of drama, spectacle and interest leading into the game itself. As to whether or not we have all been befuddled by a brilliant stroke of marketing genius – ignited by these two weeks of uncut controversy – or there are genuine issues that need to be addressed, we might never know. But for sure, it worked out quite fine in the end. We look forward to next season and hope that it will, at least, be equally competitive, that will culminate in another dramatic and spectacular high profile climax. The league needs it, football needs it.