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Music to WI ears: the Fat Lady prepares to sing for Windies coach, Richard Pybus

It didn’t take long, did it? Mouth open and ’tory jump out. Not one mouth, four mouth—not counting Dr Ralph Gonsalves who mouth cyar stay close when is West Indies cricket people talking bout.

So first, it was Phil Simmons, who has never felt he wasn’t free to speak his mind anyway, which is why he got in trouble and ended up in Afghanistan instead of where he wants to be and where he belongs, which is in the West Indies.

But we fixin dat; it on the list already. And it ent go take long.

Photo: Windies coach Richard Pybus.

Robert Nesta warned us, did he not, that a ‘ungry man is a hangry man. So it came as no surprise really that next in line was Marlon Samuels, spilling his guts on TV like a man who was only holding in the vomit until he was sure it was safe to throw up. That is where we reach.

Michael ‘Whispering Death’ Holding also came out of the woodwork. Naming no names, he waded into ‘people (who) don’t like to take crowns off their own heads’ and into a West Indies Cricket Board where ‘people (were) dominating situations, doing as they liked and being supported by their lackeys’.

“A lot of people that were on that board were afraid to speak out,” he explained, “because they thought they would be victimised.”

And then there was Hilary Beckles, (Queue Stalin’s Black man doh get nutten easy) ignoring the politics and studiously keeping the focus sharply on the cricket. Although he never mentions his coaching or his current position, we are left in no doubt about the historian/professor’s views on Richard Pybus.

Strange! It is as clear as day that the Englishman as West Indies coach is soon to be history.

There is no mention of slavery or reparations either but only the purblind can fail to see the connection as the current Vice-chancellor of The UWI discussed the former director of cricket’s motives for shutting down the High Performance Centre in Barbados ‘at a time when it was beginning to produce results’.

I cannot wait to hear—Selector, a little of Kerwin Du Bois’ Bacchanalist please—from Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Wavell Hinds. Somehow I feel both have important pieces to add to the picture we are slowly building of the workings of the Board under its erstwhile president.

Photo: Caricature of former Cricket West Indies (CWI) president Dave Cameron.

Express Sports Editor Garth Wattley might have been trying to change his tune last week. He was not certain, remember, that Ricky Skerritt and running mate Dr Kishore Shallow would ‘prove to be men of their word’. But in his column which, quoting Marley, he headlined So much things to say, he pointed to three things which ‘the new administration needs to address quickly to get the sport flowing better’.

A new selection panel, Review of committees and The Professional Cricket League are numbered 1-3. Well, even Wattley can see that the newly elected President now has his hand firmly on the tiller and is ensuring that the CWI ship speeds full steam ahead.

We heard on the weekend that it won’t be long before the current selection arrangements are modified, ‘revamped’, to use the Sunday Express’ word. And that “I’ll be meeting with the CPL people soon (…) so that their system helps West Indies cricket go back to the top of the world.”

And on the selection issue, Skerritt told Cricbuzz this: “There must be no reason for non-consideration other than cricket or medical or physical health.

“No administrative issues, politics or petty emotional situations must prohibit or prevent players from being considered for selection.”

That didn’t take long either. It couldn’t because the World Cup begins in just under two months’ time. If the regional team that goes to England to compete does not have a Caribbean coach in charge, it will either be because there is no suitable Caribbean coach available or because someone does not understand the forward-looking philosophy espoused by the new leadership.

Photo: West Indies cricket players (from left) Chris Gayle, Dwayne Brave, Darren Sammy and Andre Russell celebrate after their 2016 World Twenty20 Championship final win over England.
(Copyright ESPN)

And if the team is not at full strength, it won’t be because some edict came down from the leadership.

Eagles, I have already identified in this space as a Skerritt/Shallow principle, do not catch flies. The policy decision, the new president said, “was made even before we got into office (and) became effective immediately on us getting into office.”

West Indies cricket is back at the top of the CWI agenda. Rally, rings out from David Rudder, rally round the West Indies…

I therefore feel compelled, lest we forget where we are coming from, to close with this important reminder from the mouth of Dr Gonsalves:

“One of Dave’s weaknesses in leadership was the dividing of people into ‘Them’ against ‘Us’ and we don’t need to do that.”

Playing in the background as he speaks is a popular calypso from the last century. Is that Stalin’s Caribbean Man? Pump up the volume.

Nah! It’s Sparrow singing a special send-off to Dave.

And at the same time Richard! Two buddies with one stone.

Photo: West Indies coach Richard Pybus.

The selectors obey me like children.

That is why they wouldn’t pick Bernard Julien.

They have fame but they want 

Money like me and Gerry

So they wouldn’t play again in this country.”

So, on that controversial “Kerry Packer” note…

About Earl Best

Earl Best
Earl Best taught cricket, French, football and Spanish at QRC for many years and has written consistently for the Tapia and the Trinidad and Tobago Review since the 1970's. He is also a former sports editor at the Trinidad Guardian and the Trinidad Express and is now a senior lecturer in Journalism at COSTAATT.

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8 comments

  1. Earl Best

    I agree that the president should not be involved in the hands-on business of determining who the coach should be and I don’t think Skerritt has any intention of doing do. Surely, however, policy formulation is the responsibility of the leadership and that includes the policy guidelines for selecting the coach and coaching personnel.

    Secondly, my impression is that the new CWI is seeking to make WI great again. That involves using the ample home-grown expertise available in the region. Where such expertise does not fit the particular bill, there are no strictures against looking outside. Frankly, I am quite comfortable with that.

    Does it make sense to have people like Ambrose and Walsh and Viv Richards and Haynes and Greenidge not contributing to West Indies cricket? Do they really have to show a coaching certificate to qualify to teach young West Indians how to play the game?

    Hmmmmmmm

  2. Orin Gordon why do you suggest sir Hillary is setting policy ?

    During the campaign Skerritt them were very clear on their philosophy

    In this age of globalism there is also mixed with high sensible nationalism.

    When West Indian migrate to we are faced with system in sports and all sorts of jobs where they prioritize developing & hiring local talent before inmigrant get a look in

    CWI as one of the leading CARICOM institutions has to be at forefront of promoting Caribbean work talent

    The amount of foreign coaches that have been around WI under Cameron plus in CPL was completely unnecessary

  3. I would like to see big Phil back in the Caribbean to continue his work. The environment is different now.

  4. Lest I forget, to continue to develop women’s cricket as well. The same arguments for coach apply.

  5. I like and respect Hilary Beckles a lot, but I don’t want him setting policy for the selection of a West Indies head coach. Ricky’s tasks are simple… to win short cricket tournaments starting with the would cup next month, to win a greater ratio of test matches and test series, to make us more competitive away from home, to raise our dismal rankings across all 3 formats, and to make sure that there’s a regional structure that maintains a good production pipeline of talent. The design of the coach’s passport should be far, far down his list of priorities. I don’t see the evidence from Beckles or anyone else that in the age of globalisation of talents, having a Guyanese or Vincie passport makes a coach any more likely to succeed. It is a totally different argument from giving local coaches a shot. We should. But passport shouldn’t determine who’s best qualified, or who comes out on top in the recruitment process.

  6. Who is he, what’s his record as a coach?