Mr Skerritt and his team need to tread carefully

Saturday, April 13, 2019

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Given Mr Ricky Skerritt's oft-repeated pledge that under his leadership Cricket West Indies will be “player centric”, we are left to assume that players at the leadership level were indeed consulted prior to the sweeping changes announced this week.

Top of the list was the decision to replace Englishman Mr Richard Pybus as interim head coach. Barbadian Mr Floyd Reifer, a former West Indies batsman who served briefly as captain in 2009 at a time when senior players withdrew their services, is the new man in charge, again on an interim basis.

Readers will recall that Mr Pybus got the job as interim coach in January, in contentious circumstances following the sudden departure late last year of Australian Mr Stuart Law.

Furore erupted after an allegation from within the board directorship of Cricket West Indies that Mr Pybus — whose substantial role was in the high-performance programme — had been appointed interim men's coach by former president Mr Dave Cameron, without due process.

Against that unstable backdrop and against all odds, the Jason Holder-led West Indies team with Mr Pybus as coach proceeded to beat visiting England 2-1 in a three-Test series.

West Indies — ranked ninth in One-Day Internationals — went further by playing to a 2-2 tie with number one ranked England in a four-match ODI series. That success was particularly pleasing in the context of the ICC Cricket World Cup which opens late next month in England.

Hence the concern being expressed by many cricket followers and ex-West Indies players that in the interest of continuity and stability, the decision to replace Mr Pybus would have been better delayed until the end of his interim contract in mid-year.

By then the Cricket World Cup, as well as India's scheduled tour of the Caribbean, would have been history.

Mr Skerritt has made it clear that the decision is largely driven by the need for a “West Indies first policy” and to strengthen Caribbean pride.

In that regard, his description of Mr Reifer as “a young, but seasoned professional, who lives among us, and who has dedicated his life to developing our young people and teaching them our cricket culture”, is instructive.

That said, we are disturbed by news that former West Indies allrounder Mr Vasbert Drakes, who served as bowling coach for the West Indies team alongside Mr Pybus, has also been removed and is now taking legal action.

As Mr Skerritt well knows, and has said, West Indies cricket has had more than enough of such grievances, not to mention huge sums paid out in recent years to the aggrieved.

Also, on the face of it, axing Mr Drakes at this time doesn't seem to be in sync with “West Indies first”.

At another level, this newspaper agrees with the decision to revamp the selection policy, giving the selectors a free hand to choose those they perceive to be the best.

In those circumstances, the removal of the previous selection panel led by Mr Courtney Browne was inevitable.

We note the appointment of Jamaican Mr Robert Haynes as interim chairman of selectors, with support from coach Mr Reifer, and the captain Mr Holder. We wish them well.


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