Three months after being elected president of Cricket West Indies (CWI) Ricky Skerritt has found himself in an unenviable position.
Since beginning their quest for glory at the World Cup in victorious fashion over Pakistan, the West Indies have failed to win a match since.
Losses to Australia, Bangladesh and England followed, along with a rained-out contest against South Africa.
With tough matches against New Zealand, India, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan looming, it is extremely unlikely the West Indies will make it to the semifinal stage.
How is the regional side’s poor performance at the World Cup Skerritt’s fault you might ask?
The answer to that question occurred just days after Skerritt ousted Dave Cameron, to assume command of CWI on March 24
One of his first moves as president was to remove Richard Pybus as interim head coach of the West Indies.
It was widely accepted that Pybus was not a well-loved personality in the Caribbean and many had even questioned Cameron’s move to appoint him as head coach of the regional side for the England tour.
Pybus drew criticism for shutting down the West Indies’ High-Performance Centre in Barbados, while his decision to select only those players who made themselves available for regional tournaments phased out several of the country’s best T20 players.
But as the popular saying goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
The 54-year-old Pybus did the unthinkable by leading the Windies to a shocking 2-1 win over England in the three-match Test series and help them reclaim the Wisden Trophy for the first time in a decade.
And as if that wasn’t good enough, he then managed a 2-2 tie in the subsequent One Day International series.
It was important to note England was the number one ODI side in the world at that time.
And Windies’ captain Jason Holder praised Pybus’ efforts.
But in his hurry to remake CWI following Cameron’s six-year reign, Skerritt made a rushed decision, one that might not have been in the best interest of West Indies cricket.
He sacked Pybus and replaced him with Floyd Reifer, a former West Indies captain, weeks before the start of the World Cup.
“[Reifer] has lived the same principles of West Indian excellence that we now insist must prevail in our cricket,” was Skerritt’s explanation for sacking Pybus.
Skerritt then dismissed CWI’s entire selection panel, including chairman Courtney Browne.
“We have found it necessary to immediately adjust our selection policy to become more open, inclusive and player-centric. I am therefore pleased to confirm that we have terminated the old embedded selection policy which secretly, but actively, victimized some players and banished them from selection consideration,” Skerritt said at the time.
Just weeks after one of the West Indies’ most historic achievements in recent times, Skerritt saw the need to completely overhaul CWI.
Could those decisions not have waited until the end of the World Cup?
Was it absolutely necessary to make such sweeping changes weeks before the beginning of a major tournament?
Did Pybus’ performance not justify him leading the West Indies at the World Cup?
Since those shakeups, the West Indies’ results have been less than flattering.
It appears as if the team’s chemistry has been impaired.
Ironically, while it obviously was not Skerritt’s intention to disrupt the team that is exactly what has happened.
The replacement ‘selection panel’ also made some questionable choices in naming a 15-man squad to travel to England and Wales.
Skerritt will face tough questions about the team’s disappointing performance, as he should, and the decisions he made will come under much scrutiny.
His first real test as CWI president is upon him.
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