Newly-elected Cricket West Indies president, Ricky Skerritt, says he intends to issue an apology to former head coach Phil Simmons, for recent controversial comments by his predecessor, Dave Cameron, who labelled the Trinidadian’s hiring as a “bad decision”.
And the former St Kitts and Nevis government minister, who stunned Cameron in last Sunday’s CWI elections in Jamaica, hinted that the regional governing body was poised to settle the long-running legal dispute over damages with Simmons.
Speaking in a wide-ranging interview with CMC Sports today, a passionate Skerritt said Simmons had been “very competent” in his time in charge of West Indies, and described his sacking as one of the low points in West Indies cricket during the last administration.
During the recent election campaign, Cameron told a Jamaica radio station that CWI “made a bad decision when we hired Phil and we had to get out of that situation”.
But Skerritt, who said he was involved in Simmons’s hiring, disagreed.
“In our opinion, the Phil Simmons issue was one of the unfortunate developments over the last few years,” Skerritt said.
“Phil Simmons is an excellent coach, a world-class coach. I think my predecessor made an unfortunate statement when he said it was a mistake hiring Phil Simmons.
“I was involved in the interview panel that recruited Phil Simmons from a long list of competitors and Phil Simmons was the best candidate, and he proved himself in terms of his results on the field to have been a very competent coach.”
He added: “And if it is one thing that I’m going to do as president of Cricket West Indies is to apologise to Phil Simmons for having been referred to as a mistake. Cricket West Indies did not make a mistake when Phil Simmons was recruited.”
Simmons was abruptly axed in September 2016 just days before the start of a series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates, for what CWI said were “differences in culture and strategic approach”.
The Caribbean side were promptly whitewashed in the Twenty20 and one-day series, before also losing the three-Test series, 2-1.
Skerritt said he remained sceptical about the reasons behind Simmons’s dismissal.
“There might be some more underlying causes which we are not privy to,” the former West Indies team manager noted.
The matter has since been the subject of a court case between Simmons and the board, with Cameron saying recently the former West Indies player had claimed too much in damages, causing the matter to drag on.
CWI had already admitted liability in the matter.
A court hearing was set for today and Skerritt gave the assurance that the matter would soon be a thing of the past.
“Within minutes of becoming president – literally within minutes – as soon as the annual general meeting ended, I was able to have a quick brief from the chief financial officer and the chief operations officer on the matter,” Skerritt said.
“And I’m confident that matter will be sorted out very, very quickly, if it actually hasn’t been sorted out already today (Tuesday). I will find out tomorrow (Wednesday) morning and as soon as the matter is settled, Cricket West Indies will put out a statement accordingly.” (CMC)