Ricky Skerritt’s West Indies First Policy Under Scrutiny

L. Bronson

KINGSTON, Jamaica – We were tempted to raise hell on current Cricket West Indies president Ricky Skerritt for his blatant about-turn regarding his West Indies first policy.

For those who might have forgotten, during his campaign for the presidency of the regional board, Skerritt had pledged to hire coaches from the region as he believed foreign coaches lacked the connection to the players.

But lo and behold, having got the mandate from the stakeholders after defeating Dave Cameron at the polls early last year, Skerritt’s administration has gone back on their word and has hired more than three foreign coaches at different levels.

The administration has taken on Australian Chris Brabazon as coaching education manager, Indian Monty Desai as batting coach, and Zimbabwean Trevor Penney as fielding coach.

Englishman Graeme West was also appointed as head coach of the West Indies Under-19 team, currently competing at the 13th edition of the ICC Under-19 World Cup in South Africa.

It was always my view from the sidelines that coaches should be contracted, not based on where they are from, but based on their qualifications and their suitability for the job.

We were therefore not surprised when Skerritt announced that his administration was forced to seek help from outside the region because of the paucity of expertise that resides within and that his campaign pledge did not mean he would only hire from within.

“There is no reverse at all,” he said. “First thing is that I didn’t say we would hire West Indies coaches only. I said we would adopt a West Indian first policy, whereby we would look at the individuals we have in the region, and if we cannot find the respective talent to fill those roles, then we would have to go overseas to do so,” Skerritt told the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper.

The Cricket West Indies boss was quick to point out that though the expertise is currently lacking in the region it doesn’t necessarily mean that in a few years the situation will not change, because one of the mandates for each of the newly contracted coaches is to coach the coaches in the region so that there is a legacy when they leave.

“These coaches have been hired with a contractual obligation to share their best practices, and this is a policy with which we are moving forward so that we can develop our local coaches.”

He had added that Jimmy Adams and senior team head coach Phil Simmons, as well as Cricket West Indies CEO Johnny Grave were to meet to further the discussion on coaching as they look to develop the game.

So far it seems like they have got it right, as there have been positive signs from the senior team’s recent performances, and already the Under-19s have gone about their business most pleasingly and professionally after two games in South Africa.

The ICC Under-19 World Cup started in 1988 in Australia when the West Indies paraded none other than one Brian Lara, as well as Jimmy Adams and Ridley Jacobs.

There was a 10-year break before it re-emerged in 1998 in South Africa when England captured the title. India triumphed in Sri Lanka in 2000, Australia re-emerged in New Zealand in 2002, followed by Pakistan with a quick double in Bangladesh in 2004 and Sri Lanka in 2006.

India were kings again in Malaysia in 2008, as Australia regained control in New Zealand in 2010, after which India copped their third title in Australia in 2012.

South Africa won their only title in the United Arab Emirates in 2014 before West Indies, led by Shimron Hetmyer prevailed in Bangladesh in 2018.

India captured their fourth title in New Zealand in 2018.

West and his youngsters have looked ominous thus far after two games. First, they defeated three-time winners Australia by three wickets in their opener, then hammered England by 71 runs on Duckworth-Lewis-Stern, with impressive all-rounder Nyeem Young shining brightly to become the first West Indian and only the fourth player ever to hit a half-century and take five wickets at an ICC Under-19 World Cup.

Young had also scored a half-century in the game against Australia.

The win puts West Indies on four points atop the four-team group and with only minnows Nigeria to come on Thursday, the Windies appear set to top the group and eliminate one of either Australia or England.

The West Indies have shown exceptional competence in all three facets of the game—batting, bowling and fielding.

Outside of Young, others have shown the requisite qualities to shine on any given day. Kevlon Anderson, Captain Kimani Melius, opener Leonardo Julien, all-rounder Matthew Forde, who took five catches against England to go with one wicket. And pace bowler Jayden Seales, who took 4-49 against Australia, appears special, having mesmerized the English, though he went wicketless for 20 runs from his 10 overs.

Nothing has been won yet, but they have looked the part and we hope for the best, and if this is what the foreign coaches will bring to West Indies cricket for the immediate future, bring them on!

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