BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – Cricket West Indies directors, Enoch Lewis and Conde Riley, have sparred publicly over the recent choice of Richard Pybus for senior men’s head coach, further increasing the rancour surrounding the Englishman’s appointment less than two weeks before the opening Test against England.
Lewis has been highly critical of Pybus’s selection and wrote to CWI last month lambasting the way the selection process was carried out, while also accusing president Dave Cameron of “hand-picking” Pybus for the job.
However, Riley, the Barbados Cricket Association president, defended Pybus’s appointment, rubbishing Lewis’s claims and contending that the CWI board had sanctioned the move.
“On the ninth of December, this whole matter was ventilated [at a board meeting in Trinidad]. It was put to the vote,” Riley said during a stormy exchange with Lewis on the popular cricket radio show, Mason and Guest, broadcast on the Starcom Network here.
“I do not know what more due process should be followed when a full board, including the 12 directors from the six territories – along with the two independent directors – voted. The president had one vote.”
He continued: “The Board ventilated a whole thing as to who should be interim coach. There was a vote; the vote was 12-4 and that was how Mr Pybus became the interim coach.
“I am reading all of this thing about ‘due process’. It was a stop-gap thing so we could go back and as chairman of the HR committee, I can tell you that we sat down and discussed a whole lot of things in terms of succession planning, looking at our franchise cricket, and we felt that the next head coach would be a West Indian once they applied for the job.
“Once the regional franchise coaches applied, all of them would be interviewed and given a fair chance. If you handpick any one of them and the other people who have not been coaches but are former Test players, this same discussion would be taking place – how did you arrive at it?”
However, Riley’s assertion was rejected by Lewis, who said the issue lay in the fact the board, along with director of cricket, Jimmy Adams, and the CWI cricket committee, had been excluded from the recruitment of Pybus.
Reiterating what he stated in his frank letter of complaint to CWI, Lewis said after Cameron had determined that negotiations with the board-approved candidate Nic Pothas, had broken down, the Jamaican administrator had head-hunted Pybus, negotiated and concluded a deal including salary, without any prior authorisation from the CWI board.
“We were going to hire somebody from the existing coaching staff. That was approved by the board,” Lewis said, accusing Riley of “trying to mislead the public.”
“We made no decision outside of that to contact anybody else. The board made no decision. If that didn’t work out, what should happen is that matter should come back to the board and the board should then determine a process as to how we’re going to go forward. That did not take place.
“What happened when the so-called breakdown of negotiations took place, was that a single person reached out, contacted one person in this whole world. Not only contacted the person but negotiated with the person, including a salary and came back to the board and said ‘I have done this’. I am saying this is not due process.”
He added: “That is indefensible. You cannot defend that. Trust policy and procedure – that’s all the Leeward Islands Cricket Board is saying.”
However, Riley hinted that Lewis was simply frustrated he had not gotten his way at the December meeting, and this had prompted his public outcry.
“Because you put something on the table and do not win, you cannot say there was no due process when a whole board voted,” an annoyed Riley said.
“I’m getting tired and sick of this nonsense. What I’m aghast about is [for Lewis] to come out and write this letter.”
In the letter, Lewis had called for Pybus’s appointment to be rescinded, a request which was subsequently ignored by CWI.