Cricket West Indies (CWI) has apparently turned to another foreign coach to oversee the fortunes of the struggling regional side.
Reports are that Richard Pybus, the West Indies’ high-performance director, has agreed to take up the role of head coach full-time, replacing the interim coach Nic Pothas. Pybus’ contract, it is understood, will effectively run until the 2019 Test series against India, which follows the ODI World Cup in England.
The position of West Indies head coach had been vacant since Stuart Law resigned from the position less than two years into his job. He left West Indies to take up a four-year contract with the English county team Middlesex. Originally the fielding coach, Pothas was made interim head coach for the recent tour of Bangladesh that followed Law’s exit. West Indies lost Test and ODI series 2-0 and 2-1 respectively and won the T20Is 2-1.
Pybus took over as high-performance director in February, his role requiring him to work alongside selectors and coaches across all levels of the game in the Caribbean. He had previously served as West Indies’ director of cricket from 2013 to the end of 2016, when he chose not to renew his contract.
Pybus’ return to West Indies cricket in February wasn’t welcomed by everyone. Former West Indies opener Desmond Haynes questioned the process of appointing him – “It would be great to ask the [CWI] president [Dave Cameron] about this appointment and when was this position advertised,” he wrote in a Facebook post. The position was never advertised.
Darren Sammy, who captained West Indies when Pybus was director of cricket, expressed disbelief at his return. “Lies lies lies… Must be fake news,” Sammy tweeted, and a day later, in response to a reply: “Well I’m still hoping that nightmare is not true #fakenews he’s not coming back at CWI.”
Back in February, Pybus sought to defend his record and responded to Haynes via social media, noting: “Hi Desmond, as I’m a FB friend I presume it’s for my attention too. To clarify a couple of points, I was invited by Bangladesh to go and meet their board, I didn’t apply or was shortlisted for any positions. I’ve coached for nearly 30 years, I started the junior provincial program[me] at Border [in South Africa] with Mark Boucher, Makhaya Ntini and Justin Kemp. Went on to set up the Border Academy and coach Border. Mark and Makhaya both played in that team. Coached Pakistan at two Cricket World Cups, including the final in ’99. Fast forward through nine championships won across all formats in South Africa, 3 x double in three consecutive years, Steyn, Morkel, du Plessis coming through those winning set-ups.
“And although WICB [CWI] doesn’t seem to get much credit for the three World Cups [World T20, Women’s World T20 and Under-19 World Cup] won in 2016, they weren’t an accident, the U-19 and women were run by the HP program[me]. I wasn’t replaced by Jimmy, I’d declined an extension. Regards Richard.”
Pybus’ stint as director of cricket was controversial – he was responsible for the policy that made participation in West Indies’ domestic competitions mandatory for international selection across formats. This was in part responsible for a number of senior players choosing to focus solely on playing T20 leagues around the world.
Before his stints with West Indies, Pybus coached Pakistan – taking them to the final of the 1999 World Cup – and Bangladesh apart from a number of domestic teams around the world, working extensively in South Africa at the franchise level.
His last stint with an international team, Bangladesh, ended up lasting only five months after a disagreement over the terms of his contract in 2012. Last year, he was also shortlisted and interviewed for the role of India coach.
Johnny Grave, the CWI chief executive, in February not only endorsed Pybus’ return to the game in the Caribbean but explained that the directors and “everyone, including the senior management at CWI” was s behind Pybus’ appointment.