Outspoken Cricket West Indies director, Conde Riley, has slammed the regional governing body’s decision to axe the entire coaching staff of the men’s senior side ahead of the World Cup, and has warned that the sweeping personnel changes announced last week could “destabilise the whole process” heading into the ICC showpiece next month.
In a controversial radio interview here which revealed fractures within the CWI directorate, Riley said while new CWI president Ricky Skerritt was free to implement changes, he was not in support of making them so close to a major tournament and especially after West Indies’ outstanding results against England in the recent home series.
CWI last week removed interim head coach Richard Pybus and his support staff of Vasbert Drakes, Toby Radford and Esuan Crandon. Former West Indies batsman Floyd Reifer was named to replace Pybus, while Roddy Estwick, Corey Collymore and Rayon Griffith will serve as assistant coaches.
“It is not about the termination of Vasbert Drakes so much, but more importantly where the team is at this time having reclaimed the Wisden Trophy. England are number one in ODI cricket and we tied with them,” Riley told Observer Radio here in a telephone interview.
“My own feelings are that the timing is off. I felt we should have gone off to the World Cup [without changing the coaches]. I think the players were in a good space, Mr Pybus’s appointment was interim … we had put a succession planning system in place where we interviewed nine regional coaches and short-listed five and those were the people that we would look to to take the team forward.”
Pybus was a controversial appointment last January, with CWI director Enoch Lewis publicly accusing former CWI president Dave Cameron of “hand-picking” the Englishman for the position without consulting the board.
However, Pybus then oversaw West Indies’ shock 2-1 over England in in the three-Test series last February and then guided the Caribbean side to a 2-2 draw in the five-match ODI series.
Skerritt, who toppled three-term incumbent Cameron at CWI elections last month, had warned prior to his assuming the top post that he was not in favour of the manner in which Pybus had been appointed.
Riley, whose BCA publicly supported Cameron during the recent election campaign and snubbed an offer from Skerritt to address the local governing body, also hinted that Test and ODI captain Jason Holder was not in favour of the coaching changes.
“I got the impression that he (Holder) was not for it,” said Riley, who only recently pledged his support to Skerritt.
“He probably wanted to keep everything in place and you would know … that to change a whole coaching staff, impose a new selectional panel and so on, it could destabilise the whole process going into a World Cup.
“I have no difficulty with the president going in a new direction but my problem was the timing. I know that the captain was saying ‘leave it as it is and let’s go down to July after we go to the World Cup and India comes to the Caribbean’ but you know how it is.”
Riley added: “To destabilise a team … when many people Caribbean thought we had no chance against England … but this young team defied the odds. My position is and I will stand by my position and my board that this is wrong – the timing is wrong – and if the captain asked to leave the status quo as is then I think [that’s what should have been done].
“Yes president Skerritt has the right, he’s the president, but just let it follow the process that we had in place before where we would have the interim head coach and his staff, selection panel and then after the World Cup and India, then we could move on.”
Last January in a heated radio interview in Barbados, Riley famously clashed with Lewis over Pybus’s appointment. In defending Cameron then, Riley contended Pybus’s appointment had been ratified by a majority vote of the CWI board while Lewis claimed process had not been followed.
CWI also last week replaced chairman of selectors, Courtney Browne and his panel, appointing Robert Haynes as interim chairman with director of cricket, Jimmy Adams, and Reifer also serving selectors.
Riley criticised that decision too, arguing Haynes was not in a position to properly execute the role.
“How could Robert Haynes [be named chairman of selectors] – I have nothing against him, I know the man well – but he’s not been watching cricket,” Riley argued.