At the West Indies Cricket Board’s meeting last weekend, president of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) Dr Julien Hunte sang the praises of outgoing chief executive officer (CEO) of the WICB, Dr Ernest Hilaire. Hunte said the sport is on a better footing as a result of the tenure of Hilaire who is preparing to demit office at the end of September after serving the full term of his three-year contract. Hunte said: “Under Dr Hilaire's tenure as CEO the formal foundational strength of West Indies cricket has been set in place and West Indies cricket will accrue benefits for generations to come. Overall, it is beyond dispute that West Indies cricket is on better footing for the involvement of Dr Hilaire.” A release from the WICB praised Dr Hilaire for introducing a number of new measures into the sport in the region. They include the establishment of the Sagicor High Performance Centre (HPC); two new tournaments—Caribbean Twenty20 and WICB Under-17 Tournament; High Performance Programmes for U-15; U-19 and Women's team; and the introduction of the Profiler Injury Management System.
A fitness programme, a grassroots Youth Development Programme and a Player Relations Programme are among new initiatives introduced by Dr Hilaire, the release said. “Dr Hilaire gave the board his personal commitment to manage the laying of the foundation of change at the WICB to ensure the future strength of the game.” “At the time of Dr Hilaire's appointment the board required a chief executive who would be unyielding and determined; who would have had to face widespread public criticism and revilement as tough decisions needed to be made to set West Indies cricket on a course of positive change,” Dr Hunte added. However, while Dr Hunte credits Dr Hilaire with the establishment of the HPC, it is not so. This was done by former president of the WICB, Trinidadian, Ken Gordon. In his farewell speech, Gordon said: “Now I turn to the foundation we must put in place. Over the past two decades all the major cricketing nations of the world, other than the West Indies, have established cricket academies. That is where they work on developing the whole cricketer: the player, his mind and the man, the type of development we have been talking about for 22 years, according to Clive Lloyd. It is long overdue that we broaden the horizons of our players and lift them above learning on the job.
“Now finally it is going to happen. The Academy will operate on the basis of a hub, with five spokes. The hub will be in Barbados and it is proposed that the spokes be in Jamaica, Leewards, Windwards, T&T and Guyana. “The University of the West Indies and the WICB have already signed a MOU which makes the facilities at the 3Ws ground in Barbados available to the WICB. Similar assurances have been given by the governments of Antigua and Barbuda for the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium and with the T&T government for the Brian Lara Stadium. We are pleased to advise that a Caribbean company has now agreed in principle to the sponsorship of the Barbados hub for the first five years and this is likely to be confirmed in a matter of days. We also hope to be in a position to shortly announce the sponsors of the spokes in the other five countries.” The company Gordon speaks of is Sagicor who signed on for the first five years and today we have the Sagicor High Performance team playing in Bangladesh. Dr Hunte also credits Hilaire with the coming on stream of the regional Under-17 cricket series. This is not the case again, as this was the initiative of Trinidadian Sports Promotions company All Sports Promotions and was played in Tobago earlier this year.