Butler wants inquiry into decline of cricket
Dale Butler is calling on –Government to launch a public inquiry into the state of cricket in Bermuda.
The former Sports Minister wants a warts and all investigation into the national team’s decline, the low standard of club cricket, and the poor attitude of those who currently play the game.
While acknowledging any investigation might be ‘a painful experience’ Butler believes it is necessary before things get ‘totally out of control’, and he wants a definite answer on how Bermuda Cricket Board plan to turn things around over the next five years.
Butler contacted Glenn Blakeney, the current Minister of Sport, two months ago about setting up a National Cricket (Royal) Commission and said he was asked by Minister Blakeney to chair the inquiry.
“I mentioned it to him (Blakeney) a few months back and he asked me to chair it but I declined,” said Butler. “I can’t do it because of time and a conflict of interest as the Minister who was responsible for the $11 million development fund (in 2005), but Corey Butterfield (a political analyst) would make an excellent chair and is ready to do it.”
Minister Blakeney refused to comment when asked by
The Royal Gazette about the possibility of launching a Government inquiry or even to confirm if he spoke to Butler about one.
Butler meanwhile stopped just short of calling for a Royal Commission, something which has considerably greater powers than a public inquiry and must be instigated by the Governor, but said the time had come for taxpayers to find out exactly where and how the $11m Government had ploughed into the game since 2005 had been spent.
“I don’t know if it would be a Royal Commission or not,” said Butler, “but we need to look into it (cricket). We need a National Cricket (Royal) Commission to investigate the current state of local cricket from the club level to the national level.
“We’ve invested a tremendous amount of money into our national sport and I think the taxpayers deserve to know where and how it has been spent.”
Butler said the scope of the inquiry should begin with the –allocation of the funding when he was Sports Minister in 2005, and continue to the present day and beyond.
“Investigating it...they can draw a line, from the time we gave that money up until now,” he said. “What are the strengths, what are the weaknesses, what is the action plan for ensuring that it remains a strong national sport.
“We need a detailed inquiry....if it blames people, if it says what’s wrong, it could be a painful experience, but it has to point out a five year development plan. How are we going to turn this around to the days of when we did have.....when things were going along very well.
“What will the future be for cricket in Bermuda. The current picture is a very unsteady one, it’s almost like we’re in quicksand.”
Butler said he felt that Government’s backing of cricket in 2005 when they ‘stepped up to the wicket in a big way’ had been justified at the time, but subsequently hadn’t been matched by the actions of the cricket community in the years that followed.
With the national team now in Division Three of the World Cricket League, Butler said that waiting for things to get even worse before acting wasn’t an option.
“The good intentions...we gave the money because they (BCB) had a first class report, which was internationally recognised as such,” he said. “We thought we were on very solid ground because previous teams complained that they didn’t have the funding.
“The Government stepped up to the wicket in a very big way, and they (cricket) seem to have stepped away from the wicket in a very big way, and I can see them being bowled out.
“The team weren’t stepping up for bowling practice, we brought in coaches, they (players) didn’t show up, there is an attitude that is permeating throughout the sport now that’s not producing the type of results that we would like to see.
“Why wait until it gets worse, why not get on top of it now. It might be painful but we have no choice, are you going to wait until suddenly we have no county matches, until nobody wants to play for the national team or do you try and arrest it now.”
Butler believes the inquiry must focus on all levels of the game on the Island and pointed to the current season, where internal rows within the Eastern County Cricket Association and Western County Cricket Association have wrecked those –competitions this season, as –examples where something needed to be done at club level.
“We were shocked with East End, it’s been brewing for a while, we were shocked with West End, so how can we avoid another season like this,” he said. “Bermudians love their cricket, it’s an intrinsic part of social development in Bermuda, you remove that and you increase the level of frustration in the community.
“We’ve had recent incidents which concern the community. The Eastern Counties have been experiencing difficulties, and suddenly the Western Counties are experiencing difficulties. –Before it gets totally out of –control I’m asking that there be a commission investigating the current state of cricket in Bermuda.”
BCB chief executive Neil Speight failed to respond to a –request for comment.