KINGSTON, Jamaica – West Indies’ current slump is a disappointment for sacked coach Richard Pybus. His replacement by interim coach Floyd Reifer has coincided with the regional side losing heavily in all three formats of the game, including every completed match against India in the just-concluded tour, along with a dismal World Cup showing.
Pybus said he and former Cricket West Indies President, Dave Cameron, had the right tools and vision to transform the beleaguered Caribbean side into a successful team again.
Breaking his silence for the first time since being removed from the helm of the West Indies last April, the Englishman said his early work with the team had the makings of something special and that he had been praised by many for the way the side performed against England earlier this year.
“Of all the sides I have coached around the world, this group was fantastic. We had a very good understanding as a collective group,” Pybus told the Gleaner newspaper here.
“The attitude was right, and we had mutual respect and belief as to what we wanted to achieve as a whole, and this team was ready to start winning.
“We had some really good guys in our back-room staff, guys such as Vasbert Drakes, Mushtaq Ahmed, Toby Radford, and Esuan Crandon. All these guys did an excellent job. The players responded to them well as most of them are well known around the region.”
He added: “I have had persons tell me that they loved the way the team played in that England series with passion and aggression.
“That is the philosophy that we wanted across the board, and yes, I am disappointed that I was not able to carry on, but that is the nature of a democratic process, and these things do happen.”
Pybus was controversially appointed to lead West Indies for England’s tour of the Caribbean last January and oversaw a 2-1 win in the three-Test series.
The Windies also held England to a 2-2 draw in the three-match One-Day International series before being thrashed 3-0 in the Twenty20 series.
However, once Ricky Skerritt toppled the incumbent Cameron in the CWI presidential elections in March, the new administration sacked the coaching staff, appointing former West Indies captain Reifer as interim head coach.
Pybus, a former CWI director of cricket, contended the vision established by himself and Cameron had shown signs of bearing fruit.
“Dave Cameron and I set out to formulate a long-term plan, whereby we wanted to lift regional cricket from a semi-professional set-up to a fully professional one, whereby players understand what it takes to play international cricket and can perform consistently once they get to that level,” Pybus explained.
“A number of players had committed to the philosophy and wanted to play for the West Indies, and we were on the right track for long-term continued success.”
Since Pybus’ departure, West Indies have continued their struggles, finishing ninth of 10 teams at the ICC World Cup and failing to win a single match against India in any format, on the Asian side’s just-concluded tour of the Caribbean. They lost the Test series 2-0, the Twenty20 series 3-0 and the ODI series 2-0 with one game washed out.
Pybus said it was critical the current Windies coaching staff kept the side motivated despite the losing trend.
“Winning is a methodology that requires doing a lot of homework and preparation. The team has to have the right professional attitude, and the coaches have to find a way to let the team stay positive,” he noted.
“It is a team that wins and not any one individual, so it’s going to take a collective effort – quality planning coupled with superb execution.”
Both Pybus and especially Cameron came under severe criticism during their tenure from regional leaders such as Grenada’s Dr. Keith Mitchell, St Vincent, and the Grenadines’ Dr. Ralph Gonsalves and Trinidad and Tobago’s Dr. Keith Rowley, as well as from former West Indies manager and sports psychologist Dr. Rudi Webster. There were also calls for the dissolution of the Cricket West Indies. Despite the team’s recent failures, these earlier critics have largely remained silent.
Recently returned president of the Barbados Cricket Association, Conde Riley, was highly critical of the Skerritt-led board’s decision to sack the Pybus coaching staff and Courtney Browne-led selection panel just weeks before the start of the World Cup in England. Riley even intimated that West Indies captain Jason Holder was opposed to the Pybus’ sacking and had expressed his confidence in him.