PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago- With rumblings rife about a number of officials facing dismissal by the new Ricky Skerritt-led Cricket West Indies (CWI), fast bowling legend Michael Holding has warned the new board leadership against axing interim head coach Richard Pybus ahead of next month’s ICC World Cup without first consulting the players.
West Indies captain in Test and One-Day International formats, Jason Holder, has previously publicly endorsed Pybus’ role. In January Holder described working with Pybus as “really refreshing”.
However, following an excellent showing against England and with the World Cup just weeks away, there have been suggestions that Pybus will be sacked and will be replaced by former Barbados and West Indies batsman and accredited coach Floyd Reifer. Chief selector Courtney Browne is also reportedly facing the axe with his position to go to former Jamaica leg-spinner Robert Haynes.
But Holding, now a well-respected television broadcaster, said the current players were the ones who stood to be impacted most by such a substantive personnel change and therefore needed to give their input in any such decision.
“I wouldn’t say right now that we need to change everything. We need to analyse before we have knee-jerk reactions and kick out everybody and change everything,” Holding said to i95.5FM radio in Trinidad and Tobago.
“We need to sit down and analyse. The people that are coming in – the president (Ricky Skerritt) and the new vice-president (Dr Kishore Shallow) – need to sit down with everybody at various times.”
He continued: “I am hearing them talk about changing the coach for the World Cup. You need to sit down with the current players now and have a discussion with them and say to them ‘what do you think?’ because they are the ones who are going to be affected.
“We sitting down in our living rooms watching, we won’t be affected – the players will be ones to be affected. They (Skerritt and Shallow) need to sit down with them, have a frank discussion, ask them what they think – if they think it is a wise decision or if they are happy to continue with the way things are.”
Pybus, a former director of cricket, replaced Stuart Law as head of the Caribbean side for England’s tour of the Caribbean this year, overseeing their shock 2-1 win in the three-Test series.
The Englishman’s appointment was met with pushback from several CWI directors, with Skerritt during the election campaign noting his discomfort with the manner in which the decision had been made.
And only last week, leading regional academic and UWI vice-chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, argued that a Caribbean coach should lead the Windies at the World Cup. Beckles’ comments came despite three West Indians – Ottis Gibson, Phil Simmons and Courtney Walsh being associated with South Africa, Afghanistan and Bangladesh respectively in coaching capacities.
Holding, who claimed 249 wickets in 60 Tests, said any decisions made on the coaching role should be made with the long-term future of West Indies cricket in mind.
“You don’t go into a business and just change everything. You’ve got to go into the business, study how the business operates and deal with the people that are in there and find out how things need to be changed. I’m not saying don’t change anything – what I am saying is do not have a knee jerk reaction,” Holding contended.
“What is the World Cup? One tournament. We’re talking about West Indies cricket and the future of West Indies cricket. Do we only want to win the World Cup? We need to think about the future of West Indies cricket. The World Cup is in a couple months time, what happens after the World Cup?”
Skerritt’s election has been widely viewed as a positive development, especially with the unpopularity of former president Dave Cameron in many quarters during his three terms in charge.
But Holding said it was important the new CWI leadership engaged in wide consultation ahead of fundamental changes.
“They also need to sit down with administration, the people who actually work and are paid by the West Indies cricket board [and ask] what do you think? How do you think we should move forward? The financial controller, the CEO, the head of coaching – all of those people,” the Jamaican said.
“It is a long process … [they need to] see what needs to be fixed, see what needs to be changed.
Skerritt is expected announced the changes in a press conference in Antigua tomorrow. Pybus took over as coach of the West Indies in January. He previously served as head of the high-performance centre in 2018 and Windies Director of Cricket from 2013 to 2016.
The Windies squad for the upcoming triangular series in Ireland and the World Cup is also expected to be selected over the next 24 hours. (CMC/WG)