Editorial | Funny sounds from Ricky Skerritt
While this newspaper shed no tears at seeing the back of Dave Cameron at the helm of Cricket West Indies (CWI), we warned Ricky Skerritt, the new man, against dismantling everything that was done by his predecessor. We understand that temptation. Both men were daggers drawn in the contest for the job.
We feel it prudent to repeat that warning and to urge mature reflection on the part of the new CWI president. It is not because of anything that Mr Skerritt has so far done, but we have an unease with the tone of some of the public statements and what they could portend.
Two matters, in particular, are discomfiting.
The first has to do with how teams are selected.
In an interview this week, Mr Skerritt declared his intention to revamp the selection policy to rid it of “politics or petty emotional situations”. That makes sense, if it means that personal likes or dislikes, peeves, or insularity should have no role in team eligibility.
But Mr Skerritt also said that “embedded as a selection policy is that if a player can still get selected to the team, they must be considered”. On that, he owes the region more, and better, particulars.
Among the things that Mr Skerritt must make clear is whether no criteria, other than a player’s talent, and known performance, should be the basis for selection. We know that it has been a rancorous issue in recent years that the Cricket West Indies insisted that players meet a minimum threshold of matches played in regional tournaments to be eligible for its Test and limited-overs teams. Several players opted out of playing for the West Indies in order to earn more money on the international T-20 circuit.
We, in regard to this matter, make two observations.
First, players’ demand in this market grew initially from their performances in territorial, and then regional, teams. In other words, a regional platform enhanced their marketability.
The second point is that the absence of our best players from regional tournaments and West Indies teams deprives younger players of the demonstration and, potentially, nurturing effect of their presence. It seems to us that there ought to be clear policy, devised between CWI and the players, for participation in regional tournaments and the basis of exemptions for anyone who intends to represent the West Indies.
Hopefully, Mr Skerritt’s remark was not a populist declaration to curry favour with players now on the sidelines, with whom Mr Cameron may have quarrelled.
Our second issue has to do with Mr Skerritt’s declaration of wanting to repatriate the technical and supporting expertise around West Indies, which, we suspect, implies changing the current interim coach, Englishman Richard Pybus, and perhaps CEO, Johnny Grave. We, in principle, support the Caribbeanisation of the management and technical infrastructure around West Indies cricket but not on the basis of peeve.
We know that there was controversy over Mr Pybus’ appointment earlier this year, including Mr Skerritt’s claim that it didn’t follow protocol. He may be considered, Mr Pybus, if not Mr Grave, Cameron’s man.
The larger issue is how Mr Pybus, or anyone else, performs in their job. Further, in today’s global cricketing set-up, while CWI should seek to place the best West Indian talent in management positions, it, hopefully, will not be on the basis of jingoism or blind nationalism. It’s worth recalling that increasingly, West Indies cricket coaches market their skills across the world.