March 2022 Volume 18

KC old boy Ray Ford wants shot at reviving Windies cricket

Reprinted from Jamaica Observer
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Kingston College old boy Ray Ford, wants a shot at helping to resurrect West Indies cricket, and he hopes to do so from the pulpit of ultimate power — the presidency of Cricket West Indies.

“I'm in touch with three octogenarians from the glory days of West Indies cricket. They are all saddened by our tumble, but at their age, there is not much they can do. I am a little bit younger than they are and have both the energy and the intellectual wherewithal, I think. Plus, I cannot sit idly by and do nothing,” said Ford.

Clearly, there's more to it than that.

To Ford, it's not all now about jumping up and down and cheering on West Indies cricket. “People in the Caribbean region are — and not of their free will — immersed in crime-ridden environments. For West Indies cricket to come back, we'll have to attract an avalanche of youngsters to the game. And that, to me, could take a lot of potential young criminals off of our streets,” he argued.

“And say what they will, the failure of West Indies cricket to me, represents a colossal failure of our management acumen. It [also] reflects badly on us as a people, and I want to change that perception of us as well,” said the straight-talking Jamaican.

“Back in the 90s, when we weren't quite sunk as low as we are now, I visited both Australia and South Africa twice. And when I would stop and ask people for directions in my Jamaican accent, some would be moved close to tears. They would express their lament to me about West Indies cricket's demise, as if a relative of mine had died,” Ford noted.

“I've never before seen an institution go downhill so fast,” said the former KC fast bowler of 1967-70 Sunlight Cup cricket vintage, who, with his three for 11 in June 1970 All-island Spaulding Cup final down at Monymusk against Vere Technical High School, helped to bring the championship trophy to North Street.

And what are some of the ailments of West Indies cricket, thinks Ford?

“I recently heard a Cricket West Indies operative on one of the Caribbean radio talk shows, talking about how his administration has morphed West Indies cricket into being a (quote): 'player-centric' one. I have nothing against modern-day cricket players. But I'm sorry. I'm for that little taxi driver who picked me up on South Camp Road outside Sabina Park after India had beaten us in a Test in August/September 2019. After learning of the outcome of the match, the gentleman began to curse non-stop, till I alighted in Cross Roads,” Ford recalled. “Now those are also the people, besides Sir Gary, Sir Wes, and Mr Easton McMorris, whom I envision myself batting for.

“Another thing in the last few years that I've been picking up, is that quite a few people — not all of course — who have in the recent past, put up their hands to serve West Indies cricket, sadly, have used their positions of power, trust and authority, to first serve themselves. And so,” surmised Ford, “West Indies cricket has been hobbled in more ways than one.

“And lastly I think, successive West Indies cricket administrations have made things other that our success at Test cricket, the mantlepiece on their respective coffee tables. And as recently as exhibited, of late, we haven't even been good, at some of those other glittering 'things' that we've ran after. We are now more into, I think, peripheral things like gleaning the staging of coveted cricket tournaments. It's things like those these days, which our more recent cricket administrations have been using to redefine what West Indies cricket success means to Caribbean people.”

And why does Ray Ford feel that he has the magic potion?

“Actually, I don't. But, I truly believe, that I have the right ideas to, the passion and the academic training for, and am surrounded by the right people to, redirect West Indies cricket towards being more competitive in all formats of the game, and particularly at Test cricket,” said Ford who holds a BSc in Mechanical Engineering, a MBA in Marketing — both from Michigan State University, and a MS in Program & Project Management from the University of Michigan-Derborn.

“And one thing is for sure I believe,” said Ford, “is that we can not be going back and forth between this cricket administration and the former one. We have to put forth alternatives.”

But who knows Ford? And how does he plan to become better known?

“I consider myself as an unknown,” said Ford. “And I sort of like it this way.” “If it were not for the COVID pandemic, I would have before now made the rounds to our cricketing territories, and have introduced myself and what I am about, to as many CWI directors as I could. Because, as one of my advisers recently reminded, and of which I'm well aware: 'You can not win a nomination, by making your case in the press. Bigger than you have tried that, and have fallen flat.' And so God willing,” said Ford, “I'm planning to make the rounds in the early months next year when the cricket is in-town, and attempt to have chats”.

But does Ford stand a chance in hell? “For the sake of West Indies cricket, I certainly hope so,” he said.

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