Appointed as lead selector for two years in mid-October 2019, Roger Harper got a two-month extension until the end of the current year. But that’s it!
Cricket West Indies today announced that neither the former off-spinner nor Miles Bascombe, the second member of the three-member panel, will have his contract renewed.
Phil Simmons, the third member of the Harper selection threesome in his capacity as head coach, remains on the new pro-tem panel, which includes Test captain Kraigg Brathwaite and white ball skipper Kieron Pollard. The selection process, CWI says, is to be supervised by Director of Cricket, Jimmy Adams.
In a statement, Harper thanked CWI ‘for the opportunity to serve West Indies cricket in the role of lead selector’ and wished the organisation ‘the very best for the future’.
He also took the opportunity to thank Bascombe ‘for his professionalism and teamwork’ as well as ‘all those whose efforts and cooperation helped me to perform my role efficiently’.
Also thanking ‘Roger and Miles for their work and dedicated services to West Indies cricket in the last two years’, Adams put the emphasis elsewhere, never mentioning professionalism, efficiency or success.
“Selecting West Indies teams for international competition is a very challenging assignment,” he added, “and both gentlemen performed their roles with transparency and dignity.”
During Harper’s two-year stewardship, WI won a total of 30 of the 76 games played, five of 16 Tests, 11 of 21 ODIs and 14 of 39 T20Is. With the 581/2-year-old at the helm, Jason Holder was replaced as Test captain by Brathwaite and as white ball skipper by Pollard without major controversy.
Harper’s panel’s selections for the recently concluded World Cup in the UAE and Oman, however, provoked much negative reaction. The inclusion of 42-year-old Chris Gayle was a highly criticised element as well as the exclusion of former captain Holder from the 15-member squad and the inclusion of the out-of-form Darren Bravo in the reserves on the 19.
There had also been much dissatisfaction expressed with the selectors’ decision to go with players on the wrong side of 30 such as Dwayne Bravo, Lendl Simmons and Ravi Rampaul instead of younger players like Sherfane Rutherford, Romario Shepherd and Dominic Drakes, for example.
When Pollard’s team was dismissed for 55 in the opening encounter against England and then went on to lose four of its quota of five matches, narrowly beating Bangladesh, on Wired868, Tony McWatt and Reds Perreira called for the selectors to be immediately dismissed along with the captain and the coach.
A couple of other high-profile commentators added their voices to the chorus of calls for changes to be made, including to the selection panel
But CWI president Ricky Skerritt declared that there would be no knee-jerk reaction to the pathetic showing by the regional team. And CEO Johnny Grave noted that the board had little interest in tinkering with personnel but was putting the focus on reforming the systems so that ‘we are producing players and preparing players on that world stage’.
But presumably after due reflection, the board has deemed it unwise to continue with Harper and Bascombe and will begin the search for a new lead selector next month.
Ireland are due to arrive in the month for a three-match ODI series starting on 8 January and, a one-off T20 game at Sabina Park reliably reported to be billed as a send-off for the long-serving Gayle.
So instead of Harper and his panel, it will be Simmons and his new-look panel who will now be doing the honours–at least for the next engagement.