West Indies cricket at its best has always been a representation of the hopes and aspirations of the Caribbean, and an illustration of the heights of excellence that our West Indian people can attain when we work together as one. That is why West Indies cricket has been aptly described as a ‘public good’ that belongs to millions of West Indian people all across our region and the world.
When our cricket teams and gifted individuals showcase excellence on a world stage, we walk taller as a people, and we beam with pride as we look at our own young West Indians face up with confidence and God-given talent to the best competition from across our globe.
Our strategic decisions that we confirm publicly here today, are designed to bring back that sense of pride and aspiration to our West Indian senior men’s team that has been too often absent in recent times. In order to achieve a renewed sense of purpose and excellence, difficult choices and challenging decisions have been made.
The changes that we have triggered this week are therefore more than a simple change in personnel, or a shake up amongst the ranks. This is a calculated strategic move designed to reignite the passion for our culture - A west Indian culture where our cricket is being put back where it belongs, at the very center.
As I said during my recent election campaign -- no decision we make will be made for political reasons or to fulfil insular needs.
Review of our system of selection.
All of our decisions are guided by a ‘Cricket First’ mantra that was so readily welcomed by stakeholders everywhere, who told us to ensure that we could put the best available players on the field. In order to do so, we have found it necessary to immediately adjust our selection policy to become more open, inclusive, and player-centric. I am therefore pleased to confirm that we have terminated the old embedded selection policy which secretly, but actively, victimized some players and banished them from selection consideration.
And to ensure that our new all-inclusive policy could be implemented immediately and effectively, we have found it necessary to also make personnel adjustments. Today I have the pleasure to officially announce that the new Interim Chairman of selectors is Coach Robert Haynes, who is the most experienced and best suited for this responsibility at this time. We are confident that in Mr. Haynes we have found an interim Chairman who shares the philosophy of inclusiveness and therefore believes in our new selection policy. Because of his impressive track record of good relations with players and past players, we have no doubt that My Haynes will engage with players everywhere, strictly in the interest of what is best for West Indian cricket.
I remind you that in our ten-point plan Dr Shallow and myself promised to re-evaluate the system of team selections. In that vein our Board of Directors have agreed to set up a task force to undertake a comprehensive review of the system of selection with the intention to identify the best possible practices that can lead to the best outcomes. We expect that this review will be carried out over the next three months.
ICC Cricket World Cup
I also remind you this morning that one of the ten points in our ‘cricket first’ plan is the ‘utilization of regional expertise’. It was not by accident that this policy resonated so strongly during our election campaign. In the past days, culminating in our Board meeting on Tuesday, we have consulted with many on this subject and listened carefully to most. While we may have had some differences in opinion, we all could agree that the move to promote the best coaches of our region is of vital interest of West Indies cricket, and in particular the Men’s senior team and their preparations for the upcoming Cricket World Cup in England.
I can tell you first hand that participating in a World Cup is a career defining experience for West Indian players and coaching staff. We therefore believe it is strategically more beneficial for a West Indian coach with the proven skill sets to have this exposure at CWI’s expense - rather than a foreign coach.
Our West Indian first policy is no disrespect to foreign coaches. On Tuesday our Board set a new standard of not less than 4 out of every 5 members of the coaching and support staff should be of West Indian origin. This enables us to continue to have international participants working for CWI in areas where there is no one of equal quality available regionally. But wherever there are foreign coaches in our system we will be undertaking a clear succession plan for a local replacement. Developing and exposing regional expertise in coaching is a high priority for the future of our cricket.
Our landmark decision to immediately introduce a well suited young West Indian professional as our men’s team coach is therefore a clear indicator of the seriousness of our West Indian first policy and represents our commitment to celebrate the best of what it means to be West Indian. This decision also underscores the need for fresh thinking, and an even more urgent need to embrace the new inclusive selection policy.
And in the midst of change, we have no doubt that our west Indian players, led expertly by Jason Holder, will be well prepared going to the World Cup. What we are now enforcing ahead of the upcoming World Cup is a new approach to strategic thinking while reviving authentic West Indian team spirit. Former West Indies Captain and award winning coach, Floyd Reifer, has therefore been chosen as the Interim Head Coach of the Men’s Senior Team because he has lived the same principles west Indian excellence that we now insist must prevail in our cricket.
Up to the end of 2018 Floyd Reifer had been identified as the outstanding emerging local coach. He displayed this by leading the West Indies A team successfully, including victories against the England Lions, and ended the past year by coaching the Senior men’s team to a T20 series win in Bangladesh. Mr Reifer’s his key coaching role in helping to set up the Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC) Marooners impressive win in the 2018 Regional Super 50 tournament is well documented.
Finally, our performance record overseas under international coaches has been dismal at best. All of our victories in ICC tournaments have been with the help of local coaches. That is also why we have decided to give the opportunity to a young but seasoned professional, who lives among us, and who has dedicated his life to developing our young people and teaching them our cricket culture. With a focused team that will be led by the new number one allrounder in the world, Jason Holder, and filled with a collection of our best possible available cricketers, I have no doubt that Coach Reifer is the right man at the right time.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the local and regional media, I am confident that the change agenda for cricket that we have begun so earnestly to implement this week, will ultimately bring results that we all will be proud of. Thank you.