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Joel loses to diplomat, blow to player power

Dave Cameron (left) and Emmanuel Nanthan. Picture courtesy: WICB

Calcutta: Joel ‘Big Bird’ Garner’s hopes of one day heading the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) crashed following an embarrassing defeat in Wednesday’s AGM.

Garner got thrashed 4-8 by Emmanuel Nanthan, a diplomat from Dominica, in the election for the vice-president’s post.

While the 60-year-old Garner heads the powerful Barbados Cricket Association, Nanthan, 46, is the Windwards Islands chief.

Worse, the AGM was held in Barbados, Garner’s home turf.

Besides the setback to Garner’s ambitions, his loss is a big blow to player power.

Julian Hunte’s bid for a fourth consecutive term as president came a cropper as well. He was ousted 5-7 by Jamaican businessman Whycliffe ‘Dave’ Cameron, who’d been the vice-president.

The West Indies won the World T20 last October, in Hunte’s tenure, but that wasn’t enough to impress the electorate. He paid for the controversies, not least the WICB’s row with Chris Gayle, which took a year to resolve.

That apart, the WICB desperately needs funds and Cameron, 42, has pledged to do the needful. Today, cricket has to be run like a business and the new president believes he has the credentials to do so.

Hunte, apparently, didn’t do enough.

The 73-year-old Hunte also has business interests, but is seen more as a politician and a diplomat. In fact, back in 2003-04, he’d been the president of the UN General Assembly.

Cameron’s dealings with the West Indies Players’ Association (WIPA), in particular, will be closely watched.

Indeed, on the eve of the AGM, the Trinidad and Tobago high court directed WIPA to pay the WICB a whopping sum of $ (T&T) 900,000 towards “costs” after a failed court move.

The players’ body had gone to court over the “interpretation” of the Memorandum of Understanding and Collective Bargaining Agreement which governed its relationship with the WICB.

People talk of the need for former cricketers to run the sport, but when it comes to election time, the ball hardly rolls their way.

In the Indian context, former captains Ajit Wadekar, Gundappa Viswanath and Dilip Vengsarkar were defeated by politicians when they sought the No.1 position in their state association.

If anything, politicians know how to win elections. That they may come up short in their own profession is another matter.

Wadekar (2001) and Vengsarkar (2011) lost to Sharad Pawar and Vilasrao Deshmukh, respectively, in Mumbai; in 2007, Viswanath was beaten by Srikanta Datta Narasimharaja Wadiyar in Karnataka.

Anil Kumble, however, bucked that trend in 2011, when he defeated Wadiyar, a Mysore royal, in his bid for a second term as the Karnataka State Cricket Association supremo.

Kumble, too, is a former India captain.

Significantly, Vengsarkar intends having another go, this year. “Yes, I’ll contest once more,” he told The Telegraph on Thursday.

Deshmukh, a Union minister at that point in time, passed away last year.