WEST INDIES Cricket Board Director and Chairman of its Marketing Committee Baldath Mahabir, who also heads the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board’s Coaching and Youth Development Committee, last Tuesday night delivered the feature address at the Annual Awards ceremony of the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB).In addressing his audience which included fellow WICB Directors Clifford Reis, Anand Sanasie and Anand Kalladeen, along with Director of Sport Neil Kumar, Retired Chancellor of the Judiciary Cecil Kennard and former GCB presidents Chetram Singh and Ramsay Ali, Mahabir said the country has uncut raw cricketing talent.
Below is an excerpt taken from Mahabir’s speech:
“My friends, Guyana has the capacity to supply top class cricketers, especially batsmen, to the world. But first stop, to the West Indies. Not unlike your vast, strong but seemingly silent rivers – so too I see your cricket.
Your country and its people have the talent and the passion to excel. These raw uncut cricketing gems exist in every village in Guyana. Sit with your stakeholders and plot your short, medium and long term plans. Find the gems, polish them, empower them, fill them with self-belief and self-esteem and let’s explode Guyanese talent to the world.
May I humbly suggest that the authorities recognise Guyana cricket for what it is, fuel it and allow it to grow, unfettered and unencumbered. This sport has the capability to be a huge agent of social as well as economic transformation, in this country.
Allow the game to thrive and prosper. Do your best to provide an enabling environment that will allow this great game to flourish. Yes, there may be areas that are weak but identify them and strengthen them to allow the vehicle to move forward.
Any structure that would have allowed the talents of Kanhai, Butcher, Solomon, Fredericks, Lloyd, Gibbs, Kallicharran and Chanderpaul (to name a few) to grow and prosper must have much inherent good. There is no need to destroy this to create a new mechanism.
Work with it, be strong and honest in your assessments and then work in harmony and in brotherhood for the benefit of the game.
Administrators, whether in sport or in politics are only part-time custodians of power on behalf of the people. Recognise this, and in your watch, do your best for sport and politics will long outlive those who presently, and temporarily, hold the reins of power.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have revisited the past, touched on the present and will now try to peer into tomorrow.
Where will Guyana be? Where will the World Economy be? Where will Guyana cricket be, where will W.I Cricket be – What’s next for World Cricket. What new and innovative invention is being hatched to excite the cricket world?
In Guyana, two things can help Guyana and West Indies cricket. Better pitches and a well thought-out and implemented development plan. Uncover the gems within your beautiful country, polish them and unleash them on the world. We will all benefit and as for your pitches, you know that answer as well as I do.
Economically, there are many better than me to pronounce, but all I want to urge is that you look at ways of adding value to that which you have access to. Value to your people, timber, craft and value to your unspoilt environment!.
Sit and dream, and then implement, as Guyana and Guyana’s cricket have huge untapped potential.
Dare to be different. Dare to be a game changer – for the days of plodding leadership are gone. Technology has changed and continues to change our world at a frantic pace and we as sporting administrators must keep up with the pace – for that is the pace of the young, the pace of the future.
Be aware of what huge marketing possibilities abound due to the growing business of sport. Make yourself current and aware. Almost every aspect of sport has commercial considerations, and cricket is no different.
Indeed, we are luckier than most because we have three varieties of the same product to sell – so we can segment the market – we have Test Cricket for the connoisseurs, 50 over for the middle of the road, and T20 for those who love action. As we say when buying doubles in Trinidad, the pepper is either hot, medium or slight, yours to choose – but it’s all tasty.
We’ve got to see cricket like that, still in demand, relevant and very tasty. But we must watch our packaging and presentation. Our stadia themselves must become a destination, an experience. The modern spectator is a more demanding one. He/she wants good comfy seats, good amenities – (washrooms etc), food, and generally good entertainment.
For a 3-hour game, you may escape with razz-ma-tazz. But for a full day, brother, make sure your stadium is user-friendly and the crowds will come.
Use the event, use the technology, use the entertainment value and build the game in your part of the world. Build partnerships with Regional and International counterparts and explore ways of tapping into the vast potential that is sport.
Maybe a peep into the next decade will see Guyana having the first artificially grassed cricket field that will see you play cricket immediately after it rains, under lights and at sometime in the not-too-distant future under a dome.
Maybe we will see 10 or more Guyanese cricketers leading West Indies and world cricket, much like Usain Bolt has done for Jamaica, or Brian Lara has done for Trinidad or Sachin Tendulka has done for India.
We must dream, and we must pursue our dreams for if we don’t dare and we stand still, the world will leave us behind.
Ladies and Gentlemen, tonight you have rewarded those who excelled in the past year. My congratulations to each and every awardee, each and every participant and all those who laboured in the vineyards to make it possible!
Best wishes to Guyana as a country, and to the Guyana Cricket Board and all cricketers, and cricket fans. Go brave, dare to be a champion for you have it within you to be one.
Thank you all for giving me this opportunity to be here and to address you tonight and, in closing, let me wish each and every one of you a Happy and Holy Christmas and a blessed, successful and prosperous New Year.
Written By Calvin Roberts