The sudden move to axe former Barbados cricketer Shirley Clarke as head coach of the Windward Islands Volcanoes could end up before the law courts.
Clarke is considering all legal options against Windwards Cricket Inc (WCI) after they issued him with a termination letter last Friday.
The 46-year-old Clarke, the father of West Indies cricketer Kyle Mayers, had served as head coach of the franchise since July, 2021.
In the letter dated February 11, 2023, and signed by acting chief executive officer Dwain Gill, it gave Clarke notice of his dismissal and asked him to “proceed on your twenty-four (24) days of vacation leave immediately.”
“On behalf of the Directors and stakeholders of WCI, I thank you for your involvement in Windwards cricket. During the period of notice your exit package will be made available to you,” the letter further added.
But in a statement issued today by his attorney-at-law Alexei Mc Kell, he made it clear Clarke would not be bowled over by the WCI’s bouncer.
“As is alleged by the president of Windward Islands Cricket, Dr Kishore Shallow, (who is also the vice-president of the WICB), the Board’s decision “…to separate from Mr Clarke” was based on the feeling that the parties were not necessarily on the same wave length and also stemmed from concerns the Board had since last year during the Regional Super 50 Tournament.
“The decision now taken by the Board of Windward Islands Cricket to fire him and install a new interim head coach of the Volcanoes has therefore, come as a great surprise to Mr Clarke, who intends to demand immediate clarification from the Board for the real reasons behind his unceremonious dismissal,” the statement read.
“He is presently taking advice from his lawyers and considering all legal options that may be available to him in order to seek redress for the manner of his dismissal as head coach of the Volcanoes and with the view towards preserving his good name and the impeccable reputation which he was worked so diligently to build over the years of his service to regional cricket.”
His sacking has come following the Volcanoes’ encouraging start to the 2023 four-day West Indies Championships.
Although they drew their two matches against the Trinidad and Tobago Red Force and the Guyana Harpy Eagles in the first and second rounds respectively, the Volcanoes dominated both matches.
However, despite the results, Clarke, who holds an Australian High-Performance Level 3 Coaching Certificate and also served as assistant coach of the Barbados Tridents Franchise in 2014, alongside current West Indies men’s lead selector Desmond Haynes, contended that the Volcanoes were playing some of its best cricket in recent times.
Mc Kell said this was highlighted by Volcanoes’ captain Alick Athanaze being selected for the West Indies’ upcoming two-Test series in South Africa.
“He has dedicated his service to the franchise and the players under his charge, several of whom have moved on to the further advancement of their professional careers in West Indies cricket while under his care.
“During his time as head coach, he inculcated a performance culture within the team and built the groundwork for the significant improvements now being seen in the standard of performance of the players this season. The high level of trust and confidence which has now been built between himself and the players would have now been nullified,” the statement added.
Additionally, he said Clarke’s firing was also shocking considering the fact that the WCI had chosen not to release him to allow him to take on a role with the West Indies’ ‘A’ team in 2021.
“Even more confusing to Clarke is the fact that even before all of this, last July he received an invitation from Cricket West Indies to join the coaching ranks of the West Indies ‘A’ team which played the Bangladesh ‘A’ team during their tour of the Caribbean in July – August.
“Yet, both the franchise and Windward Islands Cricket refused to release Clarke, denying him the opportunity to take up this appointment, citing that in their view, the programme which he implemented was working to their satisfaction and they did not want to stymy the team’s progress,” the statement read.
Clarke played 12 first-class and five List A matches for Barbados and the Combined Campuses and Colleges between 1999 and 2008.