Local cricket faces a period of great uncertainty with the president of the T&T Cricket Board, Azim Bassarath, warning that recent developments have caused grave concern and does not auger well for the future of the sport.
Bassarath caused shock waves at the recent prize distribution function of the East Zone of the T&TCB when he questioned whether recent developments targetting top elected officials of the national governing body were part of “a larger, sinister scenario” to remove the present administration.
The T&TCB is currently facing a legal challenge in the High Court to its established process to elect its executive officers, brought by several national league representatives headed by Dinanath Ramnarine, ex-president of the West Indies Players’ Association, and Daren Ganga, a former national captain.
Adding to the intrigue are reports that the car of a senior cricket official has been shot at while parked at his home, while the tyres of a team official vehicle was slashed inside the Queen’s Park Oval in Port-of-Spain during a recent practice match involving the national cricket team.
The local cricket chief’s revelations caused further consternation when he revealed that recent attempts have been made to hack into the e-mail accounts of three cricket administrators.
“My question to you tonight: Are these matters coincidental? And if it is, who is the mastermind behind it? Why target cricket, a sport which has always brought great joy and happiness to its fans and delivered results to its many stakeholders and whose governance is marked by honesty and integrity?” Bassarath stated.
The hushed audience at the Tunapuna Hindu School on Saturday also heard that two years after floodlights were installed at the National Cricket Centre in Balmain, Couva, the T&TCB was served with a utility bill for $150,000, despite a verbal agreement that it will not be charged by virtue of its status as a national sports organisation.
He said subsequent to receipt of the bill, the power to the facility was ignominiously cut, which he said begs the question whether these incidents are accidental, by design or by influence and to whose benefit. “Certainly, not cricket,’’ he declared.
Bassarath said that the campaign to tarnish the image of the sport and its top officers has been accelerated by a slew of unsubstantiated newspaper reports which—among other things—accused the T&TCB of not supporting its players in matters involving the regional cricket body.
The local cricket chief reiterated that the modus operandi of the T&TCB does not include seeking cheap publicity, pursuing recourse through litigation “to the extreme”, advocating strikes by players, and other activities designed to disrupt the sport and its administration.
“We as custodians of the game in T&T, understand the herculean effort of the administrators before us who worked tirelessly to build the T&TCB, literally brick by brick, or in cricket terms, run by run, not with quick fixes but sturdy and strong effort, with honest sweat borne out of a vision of equality for all cricketers, clubs and affiliates involved in this great game,” Bassarath said.
He reminded the audience that since its formation in 1980, and under four presidents, the T&TCB has never failed to submit audited financial statements, reports by its general secretary and have religiously complied with its governance requirements.
“The T&TCB has never missed or had cause to postpone an election, until the 2016 Annual General Meeting was put pending the action taken against it and which is now before the San Fernando High Court,” Bassarath said.
He said in 37 years of existence, the T&TCB has been involved in three legal matters and that a cursory perusal of the records will show that the name of one litigant crops up in all three, and the other, in two.
Bassarath said the exemplary accomplishments of the T&TCB covers every aspect of the sport on a nationwide basis including clubs, individual cricketers, youth programmes and administration.
“From a highly urban base of national cricketers pre-1980, to true and full national representative teams, at all levels, male and female in 2017. Research will show conclusively that cricket is well-run, fair, efficient, visionary, balanced and mature and not driven by any self-serving philosophy,” said Bassarath.
Photo: TTCB President… Azim Bassarath