CRICKET West Indies (CWI) president Ricky Skerritt said that the constant changes in personnel in West Indies cricket over the past 20 years has not led to positive results on the cricket field. Skerritt, who believes there is a need for continuity at all levels, said the changes have caused the regional cricket body to spend excessively.
Skerritt was speaking at the 20th Annual Frank Worrell Memorial Lecture hosted by The University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill Campus through its Faculty of Sport, in partnership with CIBC First Caribbean International Bank. It was held online on Monday night.
Skerritt paid tribute to former West Indies captain Sir Frank Worrell, the first black captain of the West Indies Test team.
Skerritt said Worrell transformed the regional team into a competitive unit and may not be pleased with the results of West Indies over the past two decades.
“Sadly, Sir Frank would also note that West Indian cricket on-field success does not come quite as frequently as it did when he was captain,” Skerritt said.
“He would see that regional cricket administrators have been grappling for the past 20 years or so with declining and inconsistent team performances, in all three formats of the game.”
Skerritt used the statistics of the West Indies Men’s team over the past 20 years to support his comments.
He said West Indies have only won 21 per cent of the 194 Test matches played during that time, 32 per cent of the 434 ODIs and 45 per cent of the 124 T20 Internationals played.
Skerritt also said the regular changes in the West Indies squads may have led to a decline in performances.
“The data would tell him (Worrell) that in the same 20 years, West Indies selectors put more than 150 individual players and 18 different captains on the field to represent the West Indies. This was the same period in which West Indies fell to the bottom of the ICC (International Cricket Council) rankings ladder in all three formats of the game.”
Since 2000, there have been 15 changes made at the head coaching position of the men’s team and several coaching changes within the West Indies Women’s team over the past seven years.
The longest-serving West Indies men’s coach over the last 20 years was Otis Gibson, who held the position from 2010 to 2014.
“To me, this data really tells the more important story of the inherent weaknesses in our local and regional cricket systems which do not sufficiently support enough of our young cricketers to become truly motivated, disciplined, skilled and mentally competitive for the global stage. The poor win/loss ratios, the numerous panicky team selection changes, the extremely high turnover of coaches, and the long list of team captains tell a sorry story of poor returns on investment by CWI.”
Skerritt said these changes have cost West Indies millions.
“And the cost of personnel remuneration during the same 20-year period has been astronomical.”
Skerritt, who has been CWI president since March 2019, said CWI spent “a quarter billion US dollars on our players, coaches and full-time staff during the past 20 years.”
He said that figure does not include “the cost of travel, sustenance, and housing our many coaches, players and administrative support people when on tour.”
Skerritt added, “So CWI has undoubtedly spent heavily on our teams, without any sustainable improvement in performance. And in contrast to the relatively poor results we have achieved, we have massively increased expenditure in personnel by more than 600 per cent in twenty years. Expenditure was poorly targeted with too much resulting waste. Altogether CWI handled more than $700 million US in the past 20 years, including significant income earned from hosting the ICC 2007 ODI Cricket World Cup. What do we have to show today, after so much expenditure? Certainly not enough returns on the field of play.”
Skerritt is happy that cricketers can have a quality of life, “but erratic governance and poor decisions at the administrative level can make the difference between a well-rewarded career and poverty for some of our players.”
Changes are needed according to Skerritt for the results on the field to change. “The truth is, and I am confident that Sir Frank Worrell looking on us would agree, that CWI needs reform on all fronts if we are to get good returns on investment on the fields of play. I am clear in my own mind that pointing accusatory fingers at coaches and moving dozens of new players through our squads, has not provided CWI with the level of results that we should all be seeking.”
Through the new CWI philosophy, Skerritt said the West Indies teams can be more competitive.
“Our new Cricket First mantra dictates that the only way that we can drive sustainable improvement to our on-field cricket results is with a healthy and focused supporting balance of organisation-wide creative thinking, governance reform and strategic decision-making.”