The upcoming Cricket World Cup will be the first real test for recently elected Cricket West Indies (CWI) president Ricky Skerritt.
Since defeating Dave Cameron on March 24 in an eagerly anticipated election, Skerritt has made some sweeping changes to CWI.
One of his first moves was to end the contract of then interim coach Richard Pybus despite his overwhelming success during the England tour of the Caribbean.
Pybus was replaced by former West Indies captain Floyd Reifer, although he guided the West Indies to an unexpected 2-1 victory over the visitors to reclaim the Wisden Trophy for the first time in over a decade.
The Windies also secured a 2-2 tie in the subsequent One Day International series.
Skerritt also made a decision to fire the entire West Indies selection panel chaired by Courtney Browne.
In its place, he named a three-member committee to select the regional team for the World Cup, which is scheduled to begin at the end of May.
The new CWI boss also made a slew of other changes to the coaching staff.
And while Skerritt’s moves to ‘clear house’ are understandable, it is also risky.
His actions even caused Prime Minister Mia Mottley to issue a word of caution.
Mottley urged Skerritt to be mindful of his intentions to make a clean sweep, especially in the wake of the Windies’ recent success.
In most sports, once a new boss is chosen to lead an organization it usually results in a host of changes to ancillary staff.
This is usually because that new boss wants persons that he or she can trust manning those posts.
However, while that method is usually attributed to teams or organisations that have found themselves in the midst of a rut or a losing season, Skerritt’s changes have come at a time when the West Indies team was actually on the rise.
Pybus was never expected to stay on as the Windies’ full-time head coach but was at least contracted to lead them into the World Cup.
After his sensational performance against England, there was no reason why he could not have done so, especially with the competition fast approaching.
This is not to say that Floyd Reifer will not do a satisfactory job as his replacement, but Pybus would have added some form of continuity.
It now sets the stage for an interesting World Cup, as many of Pybus’ supporters will have a field day should the Windies not perform well in the tournament.
Skerritt will also face much criticism from those persons who believe that the timing of his changes left much to be desired.
It means now that additional pressure has been placed on the shoulders of Reifer and new chairman of selectors Robert Haynes to get the most out of their players at all times.
The West Indies’ recent showing against England was evidence that the team can compete with the world’s best when they put their minds to it.
The 15-man squad which was announced on Wednesday is also one of the strongest West Indies’ ODI sides in a long time.
Led by captain Jason Holder, it includes such world-class players as Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Shai Hope and Kemar Roach, along with the young and exciting Shimron Hetmyer, Oshane Thomas and Nicholas Pooran.
An underwhelming performance at the World Cup will be seen as a step backwards in their development and questions will be asked of Skerritt.
However, if the West Indies manage to advance far into the World Cup, his sweeping changes would be lauded and praised.
It would be embarrassing if Skerritt was to stumble at his first hurdle, the Cricket World Cup, as most people would consider those wounds to be self-inflicted.
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