There is no denying that Jason Holder, captain of the West Indies (WI) cricket team, had a superb year 2018 as an all-rounder for the team. However, his performances did not motivate his side to be more successful. His inadequate tact and imagination limited any leadership capabilities he would have needed for the strategies involved in managing his resources.
Together with the problems he will have when the series with the England Test side gets going in a few days, he also must adjust to yet another coach, the Englishman Richard Pybus.
This will not be an easy task as Pybus did nothing of significance when he was contracted to Cricket West Indies (CWI) as Director of Cricket (DC) from 2013 to 2016.
Suffice it to say, he was an abject failure in the position, subjecting West Indian cricketers to a form of arrogance, which did not endear the cricketers to him. When he left, the players greeted the news with a sigh of relief that could be heard from Kingston to Georgetown!
The best coach in the past two decades was Phil Simmons. The Trinidadian came here on the wings of success, leading the associated cricket state of Ireland to a Cricket World Cup (CWC) and to Test cricket status which made them a full member of the International Cricket Council (ICC).
Simmons worked well with his WI team and the cricketers were never happier. They won the t20 CWC, whipping England in the final, and beat the same opponents in the final Test at Barbados to draw the Test series one-all.
It was a great achievement but, alas, not to last. The coach was straight-forward enough on a radio programme to state that there is interference from outside the selection committee with the selection of teams, and the very same Pybus fired him. According to CWI, Simmons was fired because his cricket culture was different from that which Pybus was trying to transplant into WI cricket.
Before the Trinidadian, Ottis Gibson, the Barbadian coach, had his coaching contract with CWI terminated. Here was a DC who obviously did not know what he was doing to cricket and its fans in the WI, obviously blind to our culture and our values, making hasty decisions with an air of superiority!
The irony of it all is that the same Pybus when he left CWI, applied to coach South Africa and was rejected in preference for Gibson, the same Barbadian he fired as CWI coach!
He then applied to coach Afghanistan, an associate cricket member of the ICC, and was unsuccessful. Their choice was Simmons who led them to the CWC 2019 final, crushing WI in the final of the tournament that the Caribbean side was forced to play because of their lowly status in the world rankings of the One Day International teams. The coach also led the Afghanistan nation to Test status!
WI cricket ethos
The whole ethos of the Caribbean man allows him to adjust to various cultures and backgrounds as he is a mixture of many civilisations and philosophies, plus his affable nature is never taken for granted but is accepted as an intrinsic part of who he is.
Hence Gibson and Simmons would fit into any cricket team in the world because of their cricket knowledge, coaching ability and their personalities, derived from their Caribbean nationalities.
So, who is this outsider to dictate to WI who their coaches should be? Presently he is the coach! When he could not get a job as a coach or a cricket administrator anywhere in the past few years, he came back to the WI where he was given a position as High-Performance Director, a position created for him.
It is not a coincidence that Stuart Law, the former WI Australian coach, did not renew his contract, and left before he completed it by not visiting Bangladesh with the team!
I’m afraid that every time this unlucky captain Holder hopes to lead his ship into still waters, a storm strikes and the turbulence becomes unmanageable!
Not once did the skipper mention Pybus in an interview with reporters on January 11 in Barbados when asked about his chances in the upcoming series. Not even a remark! Usually we would hear something like “Well, we have a new coach so maybe a change of luck!”. One would not get that response because, quite frankly, Pybus is not popular with the players…and a coach in that situation could never motivate players. In coaching, attitude is everything!
Pybus is a failed coach unsuccessful in Pakistan, Bangladesh & Sri Lanka at international level.
I trust he could meet the WI players halfway, mend his approach and improve the performance of the team against England at home and in the CWC 2019 in England in June.