West Indies cricket audit reports are making the headlines these days and trying their best to compete with FIFA and its imposed normalisation committee for the public's attention. However, despite not being an accountant, what I do know is that an audit report is to provide independent assurances that an organisation has, in its financial statements, presented an accurate and wholly transparent view of its financial standing.
It is indeed peculiar, especially in some sporting associations, to never hear the five-letter word “audit” until the incumbents are removed from office and suddenly one is called for by the new board. We see it all the time. I actually made it my business to ask the recently ousted T&T Football Association (TTFA) executive how come they did not take out an audit on the former administration of the TTFA.
I was informed that they didn't have the funding to begin the exercise as this was denied by FIFA (surprised?) and they inherited empty accounts. It is only this imposed normalisation committee here in T&T that is not calling for an audit of the former TTFA accounts. But then again, I wonder why?
On the cricket front, Michael “Whispering Death” Holding launched a scathing attack on Cricket West Indies (CWI) who commissioned an audit carried out by accounting and management consulting firm Pannell Kerr Foster (PKF). He questioned why the CWI had been in receipt of the audit since January 2020 but had chosen not to release it.
In response, the CWI president said the report was for internal consideration only and thought had not been given to publicly release the audit's findings. Now, I find that comment a little disconcerting as during his well-documented and far-reaching public campaign for office, one of his promises was to enhance financial transparency as well as to reform governance structure.
If preaching financial transparency to the region is an objective, the first thing you need to do is to inform your stakeholders that an audit was going to be carried out and as soon as the findings were submitted to the board, the public ought to have been notified; especially when it comes to West Indies cricket - a sport with significant political and social interest.
When CWI engaged PKF for a six-month period to undertake a business situation assessment, review the organisation's financial management systems and provide recommendations for addressing any shortcomings, the question, therefore, begs why didn't CWI find it prudent to release PFK's assessments, especially if they uncovered some illustrations of questionable executive standards and practices?
It was back in December 2019 that 28 recommendations were unanimously adopted by CWI's board of directors and while I understand part of their assessment was for drastic operational reorganisation - which one can argue is an internal process - I cannot fathom why the board would not make the report public especially as 'new kids on the block'. They should have nothing to hide and by doing this, it would have further enhanced their reputation in the eyes of the cricket-loving Caribbean people.
Reading the report, it is quite damning on the previous administration and not acted upon, as far as I am concerned, by the current board. Surely it should have been immediately sent to former CWI president Dave Cameron and allow him the opportunity, if need be, to defend the report but having waited so long, Cameron must now feel that it is a personal attack and he is being targeted to sully his name.
This off the field drama could have been avoided with better communication and transparency from CWI. Do they not have within their organisation a public relations/communications department to avoid these catastrophes?
If we continue to talk about transparency, why has no one answered Holding's other question: where is the US$500,000 “gift” presented to the CWI from the Board of Control for Cricket in India? Later this year, CWI will receive the Wehby Governance report. I trust that this report, unlike so many others commissioned by the board, will be made public if accepted. But more than it's acceptance, people need to be familiar with the rationale and contents of the report after approval by the board.
But let's face it - on the field of play we are starting to turn things around with West Indies cricket. The white ball version of the game is improving and it is going to be a pity if the Twenty20 (T20) World Cup carded for Australia in October is postponed, as I genuinely believe we stand an excellent chance to win the tournament.
In terms of our Test status, it is slow progress, however, if the selectors and our captain can show a little more courage, we may get it right. I especially like the selection of youngsters namely Joshua Da Silva, Keon Harding and Chemar Holder. It is obvious that the West Indies selectors went for those that performed in the recently concluded regional games, but why no Nicholas Pooran?
As a selector, I was once told by a former West Indies player that a good selector does not always go on averages but by looking at a player, assessing his/her ability and confidently knowing that he/she is good enough to do a job for the team. Of the batsmen selected, Pooran is as classy and talented as the very best of them. Does he have to play in the four-day regional tournament to show he is ready for Test cricket?
Imagine, 30 players named as part of the preparations for the upcoming tour of England (if it goes ahead) and Pooran is not among them. Dear me, the English must be silently laughing at their luck before a ball is even bowled.
I did think that with this new administration, all players for all formats of the game were eligible for selection, and gone were the days of backwards-thinking selection processes like having to play in a four-day regional tournament would be the criteria. I suppose modern and progressive selection processes when it comes to the selection of players for West Indies cricket remains a fantasy.
Editor's note: The views expressed in this column are solely those of the writer and do not reflect the views of any organisation of which he is a stakeholder.