Leading regional academic and noted cricket author, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, believes a head coach of Caribbean origin should preside over West Indies’ campaign at the upcoming ICC World Cup.
Currently, controversial Englishman Richard Pybus occupies the role as interim coach but Sir Hilary argued that the May 30 to July 14 showpiece in England was a “global project” and therefore presented an ideal opportunity for Cricket West Indies to create the basis for a “Caribbean coaching system”.
“If I have a choice of building up a cadre of West Indian coaches in the context of a World Cup, which is a global project and which is going to bring sustainability into the coaching culture of the Caribbean, that to me seems to be a no-brainer to compare with a person who is likely to use that moment simply for career advancement,” Sir Hilary said this week.
“Because he will enter the space, acquire that skill, acquire that knowledge and move on to his next team as he builds his trajectory.
“So it seems to me this is a moment to dig deep, this is a moment for West Indian people, having now changed their direction, having now acquired a leader who is a strategic thinker, for us to dig deep and put together a Caribbean coaching system that would take us into this project and other projects.”
Pybus was controversially appointed last January to replace Australian Stuart Law, who led the Windies for two years before quitting to join English County Middlesex.
However, the appointment was met with heavy pushback from several CWI directors, with Enoch Lewis publicly condemning the move as lacking in “transparency, fairness and due process” and accusing then president, Dave Cameron, of “hand-picking” Pybus “without the prior knowledge of the Board”.
Pybus subsequently oversaw the Windies shock 2-1 win over England in a three-Test home series in February and a 2-2 draw in the five-match one-day series following.
West Indies suffered a 3-0 whitewash in the T20 International series.
Pybus was expected to oversee the squad until September when a permanent head coach was hired but Sir Hilary pointed out that the World Cup was of such importance, it needed to be utilised strategically to kickstart the process of developing indigenous coaches.
“My sense is that West Indian people have to think in terms of project development, project management development skills,” he contended.
“The World Cup is a major project in cricket and the West Indian cricket culture should now be identifying coaches who they will expose to this global intervention, not only for this moment but for the future.”
Pybus’s future was always expected to come under scrutiny once Ricky Skerritt toppled Cameron in CWI elections last month in Jamaica.
During the election campaign, Skerritt had spoken about his discomfort with the manner in which Pybus had been chosen.
“What I have been upset about … is the way in which Mr Pybus was recruited in an environment where the board was already expressing concern about the propensity and over dependency on coaches from other countries who may not understand the West Indian culture,” Skerritt said in a media interview.
Former Test player, Phil Simmons, was the last Caribbean coach to lead the regional side but was axed after less than two years in charge in 2016 for what CWI said were “differences in culture and strategic approach”.
Only last week, the Skerritt-led CWI settled a long-running legal case with Simmons for damages, and apologised to the Trinidadian for the way he had been treated.
Ironically, while the call is going out for a Caribbean coach to lead the West Indies into the World Cup, two West Indians are leading other nations into the World Cup – Barbadian Ottis Gibson with South Africa and Trinidadian Simmons with Afghanistan. Jamaican fast-bowling great Courtney Walsh has also been working as interim coach with the Bangladesh senior team. (CMC/WG)