Last night’s announcement by the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) that Courtney Browne was taking over as chairman of the selection committee from Clive Lloyd with immediate effect would have appeared somewhat abrupt but there were signs that Lloyd’s tenure was coming to an end.
Lloyd, the outstanding former West Indies captain and hard-hitting batsman, had been appointed as chairman in August 2014 and would have expected to serve his full two-year term down to the end of September.
Instead, he is to be a special ambassador for the WICB from October 1. We were told that he will be responsible for being a spokesperson for the Board at special events in and out of the region.
As a West Indies selector for the past six years, the 45-year-old Browne deserves his elevation. A highly successful former Barbados captain and West Indies wicket-keeper/batsman, who played 20 Tests and 46 One-Day Internationals, he has always exhibited a very positive attitude.
Even with the presence of Lloyd – the other selectors are former West Indies players Courtney Walsh and Eldine Baptiste – Browne has carried a lot of weight in knowing the players throughout the region very well. He has also written solid reports. In a nutshell, he has done the donkeywork.
Yet, the timing of Lloyd’s exit must have left some observers perplexed, coming as it did towards the end of the Tri-Nation ODI series featuring West Indies, Australia and South Africa with the last qualifying match today at Kensington Oval and the final on Sunday. Furthermore, India will soon be playing a four-Test series in the Caribbean.
Lloyd was busy at Kensington in recent days, no doubt sorting out the team and hoping that West Indies would beat South Africa and book their place in the final.
As chairman, the 71-year-old Guyanese was not afraid to speak his mind on what he thought was best for West Indies cricket. There were, however, mixed signals and in recent times, his utterings about wanting certain experienced players in the side would have left him at loggerheads with the Board.
When Jason Holder was appointed the ODI captain in 2014 at the age of 23 and then the Test captain the following year, Lloyd said it was a matter of rebuilding the team.
“Jason is one of the good, young players who we believe will form part of the long-term future of West Indies cricket. We expect him to be around for a very long time. He is a young man with a very bright future. We have invested in him. He was part of the High Performance Centre and he also played for the West Indies Under-19 Team and the West Indies A Team,” Lloyd said.
The omission of veterans Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard from the team to the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand last year led to some criticism of Lloyd’s policy.
But prior to the current Tri-Nation series, he was talking about having the best players available again. It was seen as another indication of the mixed vibes he was sending.
In fact, there are some observers who reckon that Lloyd’s service as chief selector was not the best.
Though the timing of his removal from the post has raised eyebrows in some quarters, a well-placed source has pointed out that every contracted person has a clause written, in that you must give three months notice if you are not renewing the contract. Otherwise, you would be breaching it.
As ambassador, Lloyd is to look at each territory and choose a territorial ambassador. In other words, he is to pick one former cricketer – a legend – to work as a mentor on behalf of the WICB.
In the WICB release, he was quoted as saying: “The time as Chairman was quite rewarding and I am hoping my contribution would have added value to the current system.”
“I made every attempt to serve with distinction and I was pleased to contribute to the game again. I look forward to the new role. The details of that arrangement will be discussed and will be released shortly.”
It is understood that the WICB will soon name a new selector.
Browne brings strong credentials to the post of chairman. Apart from his six-year period as a senior men’s selector, he has had oversight for selection for the women’s and Under-19 programmes for the last two years while being regional talent manager for the same period.
Before joining the selection teams, he was chairman of the senior Barbados selection panel and also an alternate selector for the West Indies senior men’s team. Prior to becoming a selector, he also served as the wicket-keeping coach at the High Performance Centre in Barbados.
In an interview, which I conducted with Browne this morning, he outlined his objectives while thanking Lloyd for sharing advice.
“Since the former chairman Clive Lloyd has been transitioned into a new role, I am very grateful that the WICB would consider me to take over as chairman. I had a discussion with Clive yesterday which was very cordial and he did lend some advice,” Browne said.
“One of the things he continues to talk about is looking at the young players. It was a very good discussion and I wish him all the best in his new role.
“I was around the system for a long time and have been through all of the islands watching men’s and women’s cricket. So I have a pretty good idea about all the players across the region.
“I don’t want it to be a Courtney Browne vision. It has to be a selection panel vision and the selection process must encompass the franchises and the High Performance coaches.
“It must be a systematic process where everyone is a part of it. It cannot just be a few guys in a room deciding on the overall direction of West Indies cricket.
“We must be able to gather information from the selectors and coaches across the region and in this way we will be in a better position to make sound decisions.
“We will be meeting early next week as a panel to have a brief discussion and come up with a time that we can look at the nuts and bolts of a strategic plan.”
Browne, who was first appointed a West Indies selector in August 2010, went further.
“I think that creating a competitive environment for our international players is key because driving performance is the only way we can be competitive as a team.
“We have a small pool of players in the Caribbean. Playing as a cricket team we always must look at being competitive so you can’t think about just playing young people. But we are meeting as a selection panel and all of this will be discussed.
“Whatever we do from here on must be a collective effort.”
Well said, Courtney, and best wishes.
There is also word that a few more appointments are to be made soon including the post of team manager with an outstanding former Barbados and West Indies fast bowler tipped for the job.
Keith Holder is a veteran, award-winning freelance sports journalist, who has been covering local, regional and international cricket since 1980 as a writer and commentator. He has compiled statistics on the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) Division 1 (now Elite) championship for three-and-a-half decades and is responsible for editing the BCA website (www.bcacricket.org). Holder is also the host of the cricket Talk Show, Mid Wicket, on the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation 100.7 FM on Tuesday nights. Email: Keithfholder@gmail.com