Guyana’s government’s public pledge to dismantle the elected Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) because of alleged widespread corruption and take over the administration of cricket by installing its Interim Management Committee (IMC) took a new turn over the weekend when local police arrested board secretary Anand Sanasie on suspicion that he was part of an organized ring that sold visas to ordinary Guyanese by passing them off to Western embassies as bona fide cricketers.
Sanasie who was indicted on treason charges by the previous PNC administration more than 20 years ago and is also one of the GCB’s representatives on the Antigua-based West Indies Cricket Board, was released by police after hours of questioning on Friday but was told in no uncertain manner that police are now reviewing visa support letters he and board members wrote to the U.S., Canadian and UK embassies years ago to determine how many non-cricketers had profited from the scheme.
Senasie, a former military officer, is one of Georgetown’s leading businessmen. Digicel rents its headquarters building from him, while the elections commission has two of its key offices under lease from Senasie. It is widely believed that police are acting on the instructions of government in the latest effort to dismantle the board and install its own preferred faces.
In all, investigators say that more than 80 such letters were sent to embassies over the years and some had included people who never properly held a bat or had bowled a ball in any recognized form of cricket. Sanasie has denied the charges.
Police say they are looking at two specific cases that might prove their case. Letters were written for Marvin Munroe and Wasin Haslim as youngsters who were senior national cricketers but after checks it was easily proved that both were not. Director of Sports and Member of Parliament Neil Kumar was also listed as a match scorer on a team traveling to Canada. Police say this one is also suspicious as well.
Senasie was due to revisit police headquarters as the work week began. Government has brought in former Guyana and West Indies Captain Clive Lloyd to help lead the charge aimed at “reorganizing cricket in Guyana.”
The effort has so far had both some farcical and devastating moments for local cricket as the WICB scrubbed Guyana off the list of venues for the Australia Test match in April and has moved the Guyana team from its local base to Dominica from where it has already won two of the four-day matches in the annual regional competition. Farcically, the IMC had also named a separate national team
The government putsch is continuing despite the fact that the regional umbrella board has warned that next year’s international matches might also be taken away. Lloyd argues that cricket is in the doldrums and he can no longer stand idly by and so he is dedicating time to helping to restructure the game and its chaotic administration in Guyana.
His critics, however, say that he has so far made the fatal mistake of siding with authorities and the IMC instead of placing himself in the middle as a mediator, using the influence, respect and credibility to help solve problems that have been around for years.