Harper Returned As GCA President
Former West Indies Vice-Captain and Coach Roger Harper was returned as Georgetown Cricket Association (GCA) President for another year in a landslide 28-7 victory against former Guyana youth player Alfred Mentore.
This year’s GCA elections held on Monday evening at the GNIC Sports Club, was probably the most important one since Claude Raphael became first President in 1992.
After heated discussions in the preamble to an elections which could significantly impact on the outcome of the Demerara Cricket Board (DCB) impasse and Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) elections, presiding Officer Ronald Williams ensured voting from the 35 delegates was held in a transparent manner.
Mentore, a former Guyana Under-19 batsman in the early 1990s and an ex-GCA President, was the only challenger to his Demerara Cricket Club (DCC) club mate and seemed ill-prepared leading up to the voting by the city clubs.
Harper described himself as ‘a former cricketer who is taking a stance’ and told the large gathering which included two of the three persons (Ramsay Ali & Bissoon Singh) campaigning for the GCB Presidency that the general standard of discipline and commitment at the club level in the city has declined.
The Off-spinner who played Test cricket in the 1980s when the West Indies team was almost invincible and is among the privileged Guyanese to play in the World Cup, explained that rain, the unavailability of grounds due to softball cricket and the request from many parents not to play Under-15 cricket during the school term were reasons why no youth cricket was not played in Georgetown last year.
He also gave an update on the competitions and programmes ran off by the GCA and stressed that the emphasis was also on the development of players through training camps instead of running off many competitions with a poor standard of play.
It was disclosed that GYO will be returned to first division status while the University of Guyana, which plays in the GCA’s second division competitions, should be granted full voting rights for next year’s elections
DCC stalwart Sherlock Atwell, a Mentore supporter, lamented that politics was destroying Guyana cricket. He got very emotional as he chided Chairman of the GCA’s Youth Selection panel for what he described as his authoritarian and disdainful manner in responding to Atwell’s request for a young cricketer from Sophia to be looked at towards the completion of the preparations to select the GCA under-19 team.
Atwell reminded those present that more than 20 years ago he took Linden Joseph, then an unknown teenager for the selectors to’ have a look at’ and recounted how the pacer was selected in the national team the same year.
Harper said that the area of identifying new talent was one that has to be improved by his Association although he defended Lovell by saying that the selection criteria and selection process also has to be respected.
Women’s cricket activist Emily Dodson commended the GCA for their work in 2010 but expressed disappointment that no emphasis was placed on Women’s cricket. She informed that two Georgetown players were among the four Guyanese in the West Indies Women’s team and Harper assured that Women’s cricket will be organised this year.
Mentore defended the unavailability of grounds due to softball matches by emphasizing the need for clubs to also have other activities at their grounds to sustain the clubs.
Harper explained that over three million dollars in sponsorship was generated by the GCA last year and added that while he has nothing against softball cricket it must compliment and not compete with hard ball cricket.
Mentore lamented the performance of GCA teams as compared to when he was the President and wondered what the coaches on the GCA were doing. He also said that the DCC did not need the GCA coaches as much as some of the other clubs did. Harper criticized the practice session structure and level of discipline at his own club where Mentore is the President and expressed disappointment in the recent behavior of a newly recruited Guyana player in the dressing room of the Queenstown club to emphasize the falling standards at DCC.
Harper’s elder brother Mark, the new National Coach and GCA executive also bemoaned the level of commitment by many DCC players and gave an example of the continued impetuous shot selection by a DCC batsman in the Guyana team on the final day of their four-day game against Barbados.
The politics was evident as the verbal exchanges were almost exclusively between the DCC club members on opposing sides of the elections and DCC, GCC and Everest seemed fully behind Mentore.
After the first round of voting for the Presidency it was shocking to the Mentore camp that the result was 28-7 for Harper. Each first division club had three votes which should have at least provided Mentore with nine if all the delegates for GCC, DCC and Everest had voted for him. The results suggested that two of ‘his’ delegates had switched allegiance at the last minute.
A letter from one of the second division clubs misrepresenting the club’s President was presented by a member of that club and was quickly ‘thrown out’ by Harper.
It was good to see that when the dust had settled and the executive positions of the GCA were announced, Mentore was among the first to congratulate his former DCC Captain.
Six of the previous GCA executives including Harper and Vice-President Neil Barry, the former First-Class batsman, were re-elected.
The full GCA executive read: Roger Harper (President), Neil Barry (Vice-President), Azad Abrahim (Vice-President), Debra Mc Nicholls (Secretary), Captain Ron Daniels (Assistant Secretary), Harry Parmesar (Treasurer), Dennis Wilson (Assistant Treasurer), Colin Alfred (PRO), Shawn Massiah (Chairman of the competitions committee), Eric Whaul (Marketing Manager), Auditor (PKF Barcellos, Narine and Company).