After being elected as Cricket West Indies (CWI) President, two Sundays ago, Ricky Skerritt declared that the immediate focus of the new administration would be rejuvenating the high performance centre, governance reform and finding a permanent West Indies Head Coach.
At the present time, Richard Pybus, an Englishman, a handpicked appointee of former CWI president Dave Cameron (who was accused of not seeking the board’s approval by Enoch Lewis, a CWI Director, in a letter leaked to the press) is serving as the interim head coach following the departure of Australian Stuart Law. Cameron chose to ignore the Director of Cricket Jimmy Adams’ list of nominees which included past West Indies opener, Desmond Haynes, one of the ‘living legends’, who were generally not favoured by Cameron.
Pybus, who had previously served as the Director of Cricket, oversaw, among other things, the closure of the High Performance Centre and the firing of past head coaches, West Indians Ottis Gibson and Phil Simmons, is generally viewed as an unpopular and controversial figure throughout the Caribbean, and as such, it is highly unlikely that his interim appointment until the World Cup this summer will be converted into a permanent one, even if the West Indies were to win the tournament.
In recent times, the position of West Indies Head Coach has borne close resemblance to that of a revolving door. As the three or four doors rotate on the central axis, one never seems to know who will pop out of the cylindrical enclosure. The list of former coaches, in addition to Law, Gibson and Simmons, includes Australians John Dyson and Bennett King, and West Indians Roger Harper and Gus Logie.
The new coach is not arriving at the best of situations. The current ICC rankings speak for themselves; eighth in Test matches, ninth in One Day Internationals (ODI) and seventh in the T20 format. These standings can only be viewed as embarrassing and totally unacceptable when one considers our proud history in the game. The appalling empty stands at Test matches in recent times are a direct reflection of the West Indian public’s rejection of the inept performances on the field of play.
It is hoped that when the search for the new head coach commences that one of the objectives is to find an individual who is willing commit to the post in the long term. This is not a quick fix job, there is so much to be done and it will take some time to achieve any form of success, hence the new coach should be given enough time to allow his plans to develop. Realistically, it will probably take a minimum of three to four years before we can begin to see success across the board on a consistent basis and we will need to exercise patience with the new coach in the short term.
In conjunction with the Director of Cricket, the new head coach will have to imbue a new culture of positivity from the Kiddie Level to the High Performance Centre. As Dr Rudi Webster has been advocating for some time now, our failures have not been due to a lack of talent, but rather to mental weakness and lack of discipline. For too long, the West Indians have adopted a laissez-faire approach which has to be immediately eradicated. The recent Test series versus England is a good case in point. The West Indies should have swept the series and carried the momentum and mental fortitude into the ODI and T20 series with the intention of achieving the same result, instead one got the impression that they were quite content to have just regained the Wisden Trophy.
The West Indies team is an entirely unique one, being made of individuals from all across the Caribbean, which presents its own problems. As we commence the rebuilding of West Indian cricket perhaps consideration should be given to finding a head coach from within our own ranks, of whom there are many amply qualified for the job. In fact, most of the very limited success we have enjoyed in recent times have come under our own coaches. Logie was at the helm for the 2004 ICC Champions Trophy tournament, whilst the 2012 and 2016 T20 World Cup triumphs were spearheaded by Gibson and Simmons, respectively. Harper was in charge in 2002 when the West Indies defeated the higher-ranked strong Indian side led by Sourav Ganguly.
These four former West Indian Test players have all gone on to coach other international teams and are now older and much wiser from their travels abroad, and along with the aforementioned Desmond Haynes, should be on the initial list of candidates for the job.
Best wishes to whoever is appointed as the new head coach as he faces the very onerous task of returning the West Indies to the apogee of the cricketing world.