Orville Higgins | Options for Scorpions head coach
Those in the hierarchy of the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) may not be willing to admit it publicly, but the truth is that their is much concern about who will be taking over the reins as the national senior men’s team coach in the immediate future.
Make no bones about it, Robert Haynes’ move from national senior coach to chief selector for Cricket West Indies (CWI) has left a gaping void, and the decision who should get the job next has been the subject of many late night discussions in the cricket circles.
Haynes had taken over on an interim basis from Robert Samuels, who fell out of favour and did not have his contract renewed last December. Haynes was appointed, only to see out the last four day season, but those with power in the JCA were quietly leaning towards him getting the job over a longer run. That he has now taken up the job as chief selector for CWI means the JCA has been forced to look around again, and at this time, the decision who should replace him is far from clear cut.
Former Jamaica wicketkeeper, Andre Coley, who coaches the Windward Islands, may be the front runner at this stage. He has not coached in Jamaica for a while and may not be as familiar with the players as some of the other coaches being considered, but the JCA definitely sees Coley as a prime option. It is not clear whether they will be willing or able to offer him a deal that will woo him away from the Windwards.
Back to Bennett
One school of thought is to go back to Junior Bennett, who now wears the hat of head selector for Jamaica’s senior team. Bennett had major success in his time, including an unprecedented five four day titles in a row. Going back to Bennett is seen as a backward step by some of the cricket directors at the JCA, while some are all for the move.
Jamaica has not done better than third in the regional first class tournament in many years. Those in favour of Bennett returning feel he is simply the best man around. They agree that it would seem like the JCA is in panic mode to go back for a man who was relieved of the job some time back, but they argue that these are desperate times and as the cliché goes, ‘Desperate times call for desperate measures.’
Phillip Service is highly qualified as a coach, and is well respected in both rural and urban Jamaica, but his less than favourable results with the national age group teams in recent times may be working against him. Service is said to be among the best in the entire region at conducting and monitoring coaching clinics, but some are not convinced he is necessarily the best man to coach at a senior tournament.
Another name being thrown in the mix is former national pacer, Andrew Richardson. He was Robert Samuels’ assistant for two years and also was second in line when Haynes took over for most of the 2018-2019 season. Richardson is also the coach of Melbourne, who are reigning all island champions in both the two day and 50 over formats. He therefore does have a good resume, and indeed has a compelling case to be considered. Does the JCA think he is now ready, or will he have to be deputy again to the third straight coach?
A dark horse could be Barry Barnes, out of Manchester. He has done good things over the years with both Manchester High School, reigning Headley Cup champions, and the parish team itself. Who can forget Barnes leading Manchester to the all island two day championship three years in a row?
Barnes is known to be reluctant to taking up national duties however. If he can somehow be coaxed into national duties, he may well prefer to work with one of the age group teams, as opposed to the senior team.
The JCA has its work cut out. Whichever way they go, there will be much discussion. I am watching this one with keen anticipation.