ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Cricket West Indies has belatedly announced the appointment of Richard Pybus as interim head coach of the senior team, amidst a firestorm of criticism from one of its directors over the manner in which the Englishman was chosen.
A week after news of the appointment was leaked, CWI said in a statement Friday that Pybus would take up the top role “with immediate effect”, a snub to Leeward Islands Cricket Board president, Enoch Lewis, who had called for the appointment to be rescinded in the interest of transparency, fairness and due process.
“He will lead the technical team for the upcoming visit of England, the Triangular Series in Ireland, the 2019 Cricket World Cup (CWC) and the visit of India in July and August,” the CWI statement said.
Lewis has slammed the appointment, claiming Pybus was “hand-picked” by CWI president Dave Cameron. Former fielding coach Nic Pothas had been the overwhelming choice of the board but according to Lewis, Cameron terminated discussions with the South African after making an independent determination that negotiations were at a “stalemate”.
Pothas had argued for the same level of compensation afforded previous coach Stuart Law, instead of nearly half the amount he had been offered
According to Lewis, Cameron subsequently negotiated and concluded a deal with Pybus even though he had not been authorised to do so.
“The negotiations conducted with Mr. Pybus by President Cameron was without pre-authorization and input from the Board,” Lewis contended in a strongly-worded letter to CWI last month.
“None of the DoC (Director of Cricket), the Cricket Committee or the Technical Cricket Committee were consulted on the initiative to engage or negotiate with Mr. Pybus.”
Cameron’s decision, Lewis said, had sparked “heated debate and proved a very divisive issue amongst the Directors.”
In Friday’s statement, CWI said recruitment for a permanent head coach would be conducted shortly, with the hope of appointing Pybus’s successor by September.
“The CWI Board of Directors have already approved a succession planning program for regional coaches and will simultaneously be conducting a regional search in order to appoint a long-term head coach for the WINDIES Men’s team from September 2019 onwards,” CWI noted.
In his letter, Lewis said director of cricket, Jimmy Adams, had recommended Pothas for the position from a list comprising Roddy Estwick, Floyd Reifer, Gus Logie, Desmond Haynes, Toby Radford, Andre Coley, Esuan Crandon, Stuart Williams, Rayon Griffith and Robert Samuels.
According to Lewis, Pybus had expressed no previous interest in the role.
Adams, who replaced Pybus as director of cricket two years ago, said the new Windies head coach came armed with a “good working knowledge of both players and coaches.”
“Richard comes into the role with previous international experience having worked with both Pakistan and Bangladesh,” said the former Windies Test captain.
“Due to his current and previous involvement in CWI, he possesses a good working knowledge of both players and coaches as the team prepares for important home series against England and India with the 2019 World Cup to be played between those series.”
One of Lewis’s concerns about Pybus was the fact he has not coached an international side over the past five five years.
Pybus, who was suddenly appointed high performance director last February just over a year after leaving the post of director of cricket, said he was keen to get started on his latest assignment.
“I am really looking forward to working with Jason (Holder) and the Test and ODI teams, as well as Carlos (Brathwaite) and the T20I team, as we continue to build Windies cricket,” he said.
“We’ve got a great home series against England coming up. England are a high-quality side who will be an excellent test of the team in our home conditions. We then have an ODI Triangular Series against Ireland and Bangladesh in Dublin.
“Ireland will be looking to make a statement after missing out on CWC qualification and Bangladesh have beaten us home and away in our recent ODI series.
“The CWC is on the region’s mind and we will be looking to use the England Series and Ireland Triangular to build into that.”
Pybus’s last major coaching position was with Bangladesh in 2012 before quitting after just five months. He was subsequently overlooked for a couple other international head coach vacancies.
West Indies welcome England for a full series of three Tests, five One-Day Internationals and three Twenty20 International beginning January 23. – CMC