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CWI made the right move at the right time

In this Jan 19, 2019 file photo, then West Indies head coach Richard Pybus, right, talks with bowling coach Vasbert Drakes during net practice at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados.  - CWI Media
In this Jan 19, 2019 file photo, then West Indies head coach Richard Pybus, right, talks with bowling coach Vasbert Drakes during net practice at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados. - CWI Media

I remember Richard Pybus very well. He was the arrogant Englishman with South African roots that was hired in 2013 by the Wycliffe “Dave” Cameron administration of Cricket West Indies (CWI) to be the Director of Cricket. I remember Cameron very well. He was the president of Cricket West Indies who believed that his office plus his directors from the other territories, were more important than the players that represented the cricketing nation of the West Indies (WI).

These two men trashed WI cricket which all right-minded people knew had to be rescued as its downward slide was becoming rapid. There was a collective sigh of relief by all and sundry when Pybus did not renew his three-year contract in 2016. But in February 2018 he was back! Cameron brought back Pybus as high-performance director. One of his job functions was to advise and assist the selection committee. Here is a man with little cricket pedigree, no experience or knowledge of West Indian culture, yet after three years of crumbling WI cricket with poor direction and a bad attitude to players, he was brought back by Cameron in a higher position. Pybus had done little for the improvement of WI cricket!

Thankfully, the gallant Ricky Skerritt with the love of cricket in his heart plus the love of fellow West Indians in his soul, showed he dared to fight the self-assured incumbent at his own game and win. Luckily, he had the support of the right-thinking directors on the Board.

The new president almost immediately removed some of those connected with the philosophy of the previous regime. A perfectly sane and natural decision. The date of the CWI annual general meeting was on March 24, 2019, just 14 days after WI were beaten 3-0 in the T20s, their strongest suit, by the English team on their tour of the Caribbean, led by Joe Root. Pybus was coach of the WI team when they whipped the Englishmen in the Test series 2-1 to start the tour then afterwards the five-match ODI series was drawn 2-2 with one game abandoned. Under Pybus, WI had won four games and lost six all told. Pybus was fired. He should have resigned! Couldn’t he see it coming? Didn’t he notice there was a change of regime?

But famous tv commentator and analyst Ian Bishop seems to think that, on reflection, maybe Pybus should have stayed, because of the disastrous results incurred by the WI in the World Cup (WC) immediately after the series in the Caribbean. This was when the inexperienced Floyd Reifer was given the post. It was a big challenge. However, the Skerritt administration had to start somewhere to stamp an impression on their new vision for WI cricket! In my opinion, if only to get away from that horrible official name of “Windies” given to our proud cricket nation by Cameron.

Bishop said, “Maybe on reflection, there should have been a little more patience, from my point of view, handed down just prior to that WC, instead of those drastic changes because the chemistry of the team and what they were building towards would’ve needed time to blend.”

This is a rather idealistic point of view. The reality of the situation was to improve as quickly as possible a new and happier environment for our cricketers and not one where they were always uneasy for what next to befall them. The Skerritt regime had to cut the string and start their strategies right away. And no one can deny that currently there is a happier, more enthusiastic bunch of WI cricketers who appear eager and passionate to be playing cricket and are blending better than they have been since Darren Sammy and Phil Simmons were in charge in the T20 WC of 2016.

Therefore, I can’t agree with Ian, though I understand and appreciate his point, however, I must defend the right of a new regime to make their changes as they see fit, regardless of the timing.

One has to always look forward and deal with a new era especially after observing the in-and-out performances of the team, including and up to the matches against England, plus, licking the wounds that that particular man Pybus had inflicted on WI cricket and its players.

It was the right move at the right time. There would have been no point in waiting! Don’t imagine for a second that we were on a winning curve!!

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