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Mr Pat Rousseau has left a legacy for the ages

Saturday, April 20, 2019

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Such was his impact that Jamaica's Minister of Sport Ms Olivia “Babsy” Grange is understandably remembering Mr Patrick Rousseau — who died this week at age 85 — among the great administrators of West Indies cricket.

Of course, Mr Rousseau — who was president of the West Indies Cricket Board between 1996 and 2001 — extended his leadership skills way beyond cricket.

A highly successful businessman, he chaired the board directorships of some of Jamaica's leading companies. His business interests extended to media and he was founder of the region-wide sports cable network, Sports Max — an initiative which has given sustenance to the lingering dream of Caribbean oneness.

A leading corporate lawyer and highly respected negotiator, Mr Rousseau was, for decades, a member of the iconic law firm Myers, Fletcher and Gordon.

A close friend of the late, former Prime Minister Michael Manley, Mr Rousseau's knowledge of the bauxite/alumina industry helped in the negotiation of much-improved earnings for Jamaica through the Bauxite Production Levy in the 1970s. His service to his country in that regard earned him the Order of Jamaica.

He loved horses, becoming a leading owner and breeder.

He served as chairman of Caymanas Track Ltd and also headed the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association.

Mr Rousseau was elected to the presidency of the West Indies Cricket Board at a time when the decline of the once all-conquering regional team had already set in.

The situation demanded that Caribbean cricket, steeped in conservative amateurism, be tugged into professional modernity.

To his eternal credit, Mr Rousseau tried.

As has been highlighted by new Cricket West Indies President Mr Ricky Skerritt, Mr Rousseau used his “sharp legal and business mind”, to begin transformation of cricket administration to “a more corporate operation” and overseeing relocation to Antigua.

Mr Rousseau understood the demands on the modern cricketer; that not just technical skills, but tactical and mental acumen had to be strengthened. Hence the establishment of the first academy for young cricketers in Grenada.

He was a dominant, confident personality, yet he understood the need for flexibility and that the views, personality and situation of others should not be ignored.

So that when in, 1998, West Indies cricket was plunged into crisis following the threat of a strike by leading players en route to a historic tour of post-Apartheid South Africa, Mr Rousseau flew to London to talk to his players.

He understood and appreciated the limitations of administrators. So that, as told by sports psychologist Dr Rudi Webster, Mr Rousseau asked for his specialist help in guiding Mr Brian Lara when it became clear the career of the legendary batsman could have reached a crossroads.

What followed were epic performances by Mr Lara, as West Indies, against the odds, drew their four-Test series against the mighty Australians in 1999.

Mr Rousseau also led the successful bid for the West Indies' hosting of the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2007.

He had his fair share of critics, and the constant vitriolic quarrels, no doubt, took its toll, leading to his resignation as president in 2001. In truth, though, West Indies cricket badly needed Mr Rousseau's guidance for a few more years.

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