The decision by Cricket West Indies and its president Ricky Skerritt to introduce new coaching staff a month before the ICC World Cup is outrageous, says president of the Barbados Cricket Association Conde Riley.
Speaking on an Antigua radio programme yesterday called Staying With The Big Issues, Riley condemned the thought process of the new CWI hierarchy to change the coaching staff so close to the World Cup. He also hinted that West Indies captain Jason Holder was unhappy with the move.
“My own feeling is that the timing is off. I felt that we should have gone off to the World Cup now that the players are in a good state. Richard Pybus’ appointment was interim by the human resource committee. And we had put succession systems in place where we interviewed nine regional coaches and shortlisted five. And those are the people that we looked to take the team forward.
“I got the impression that he [Holder] was not for it, he probably wanted to keep everything in place. And you would know, that to change coaching staff, impose a new selection panel, it could destabilize the whole process going into a World Cup. So, that was that my position, I said that to another journalist that I have no difficulty with the president going in a new direction. But my problem was the timing, and I know that the captain was saying [to] leave it as it is down to July, let us go to the World Cup,” Riley said.
The newly elected Skerrit administration has embarked on a wide shakeup to its coaching and team selection staff. Former West Indies fast bowler Vasbert Drakes was fired as the assistant bowling coach, and that has now resulted in a lawsuit. Chairman of selectors Courtney Browne was also sacked and replaced by Jamaican Robert Haynes. Floyd Reifer is now the interim head coach and Corey Collymore the assistant bowling coach.
“It is not about the termination of Vasbert Drakes so much, but more importantly where the team is currently. We won the Wisden Trophy for Test cricket and tied with them in ODIs [One Day Internationals]. They [England] are the number one team in the world, and we tied with them. We had fast bowlers like Anderson [James] and Broad [Stuart] – seven hundred wickets. But this young team defied the odds and my position is, and I would stand by my position is, that this is wrong, the timing is wrong. Yes, President Skerritt has the right but just let it follow the process that we had in place before where we would have the interim head coach and his staff, the selection panel and then after the World Cup in India, then we could move on.
“This timing is so bad, and it will affect the ability of our players after coming off a high against England. And you come and change everything and put people who are not competent to do anything because you put them there. How could Robert Haynes – and I have nothing against him – I know the man well, but he has not been watching cricket.”
Riley, also a CWI director, said he did not believe that the decision by CWI to replace one Barbadian with the other would affect the friendship between Drakes and his replacement Collymore. He also pointed out that this was not about him or former president Whycliffe ‘Dave’ Cameron but rather the development and performances of the regional team.
“Fortunately, these guys are very good friends, and I don’t think that what is happening with Vasbert will affect Corey, all of them played for Barbados at the same time. It is more about the decision-making in terms of a complete change of the selectors and the coaching staff after the English tour. I have no apologies to anybody. I said in our meeting last Tuesday; the timing could not be worse especially when the captain asks not to have this thing destabilized.
“This is not about Cameron, Conde Riley or president Skerrit, this is about a team that just got into a space that I don’t think many Caribbean people felt they had a chance to reclaim the Wisden trophy. Or to tie with the number one, 50-over team in the world – England.
“But my point is this. Yes, we are looking for a Caribbean coach, and we had interviewed most of the coaches in the Caribbean and shortlisted the five. We had also decided going forward that any former Test cricketer who may not be coaching but was interested in being involved, that we would invite them to let us know if they are interested. So, that brings in all our former greats along with these five guys who are practising coaches in the territories. And we went through a whole set, Mervyn Dillion, Andrew Richardson and we end up with five. And all I am saying is that yes you have the presidency but let’s deal with it in a dispassionate manner especially after the performances of these young men against England. If I lose my presidency over that then so be it,” Riley said.