Cricket West Indies (CWI) has been forced to admit liability in a case brought against them by Phil Simmons for unfair dismissal as West Indies coach.
Simmons, the current Afghanistan coach, has claimed damages of more than US$300,000 with a final sum to be agreed at a court date in Antigua on March 26. With legal costs included, the episode could cost CWI US$400,000 or more.
Simmons was sacked in September 2016 having complained publically about “interference from outside” in the selection of sides.
The timing of the news could cause considerable embarrassment and, perhaps, damage to the current CWI president, Dave Cameron. It comes as Cameron stands for re-election for the position and supports the claims of his rival, Ricky Skerritt, that he has squandered large sums of money during his tenure.
“If Cameron wants to talk about turmoil, perhaps he can explain why former head coaches, Ottis Gibson, Phil Simmons, and the several others who Cameron hastily and summarily dismissed, from both the men’s and women’s teams, have collectively cost CWI well over US $1million?” Skerritt, who is a CWI board member, asked only last month.
He also alleges that Cameron led the board to believe there would be no costs incurred in Simmons’ dismissal as it was made “for cause”. The election takes place on March 24.
ESPNcricinfo also understands that Cameron recently asked the board to increase his monthly expenses from US$2,000 to US$10,000 a month. The board eventually agreed a rise to US$6,000 but discontent at the cost of his presidential office, travel and staff – now understood to cost somewhere approaching US$500,000 a year – is rising. His entertainment costs alone are understood to be over US$100,000.
CWI turns over somewhere around US$40-45million per annum and has, at times over the last year or two, been obliged to delay payments to staff due to cash-flow issues. Gibson, another West Indies coach discarded before the end of his contract, previously settled his case against CWI for a sum understood to be over US$300,000. Simmons is being represented by Antigua-based Queen’s Counsel E. Ann Henry and Barbadian lawyers Leslie F. Haynes Q.C and former cricket commentator Donna Symmonds in the case at the Industrial Court in Antigua.
Sir Viv Richards, who remains hugely influential in the Caribbean and beyond, joined the election debate on Saturday when he released a video on his Instagram account endorsing Skerritt for president and suggesting he would “bring respectability back to that position”.
Sir Viv joins St Vincent and Grenadines Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, in endorsing Skerritt. Gonsalves is also chairman of the CARICOM sub-committee on cricket.
Cameron has been approached by ESPNcricinfo for comment. (Cricinfo)