August 21, 2014

WICB shoddy in timing of Gibson's exit

The board had more than five weeks to look for a new coach, and at the start of a new home series, a successor hasn't been identified

There was confusion within the WICB itself over whether Ottis Gibson would be in charge for the Bangladesh series © WICB Media

The procrastination typical of the West Indies Cricket Board has left the team without a head coach for a home series against Bangladesh that should be ideal preparation ahead of the tough away assignments against India and South Africa and the World Cup.

It had five and a half weeks after the last international engagement, against New Zealand in the Caribbean in June and July, in which to remove the coach Ottis Gibson after four undistinguished years in the post and give his replacement the two Tests, three ODIs and one T20 against the lowly Bangladeshis to settle in. Twelve days earlier, it had changed its selection panel, making Clive Lloyd, the iconic captain of the '70s and '80s, chairman, and including Courtney Walsh, West Indies' leading wicket-taker.

In Gibson's case, the board waited until a day before the opening match, Wednesday's ODI in Grenada, to acknowledge that the two had "mutually agreed to terminate their association with immediate effect". By then, it was already a widely known fact.

The upshot has been the unsatisfactory situation of the team manager, former captain Richie Richardson, pressed into doubling up as interim coach until there is a permanent appointment. That in itself has inevitably created unhelpful speculation over who that might be.

The delay was accompanied by the ambiguity and confusion that are other hallmarks of the way the WICB conducts its affairs.

Given West Indies' dismal record under him (a win-loss ratio of 9-16 in 29 Tests, 36-48 in 90 ODIs, 22-21 in 45 T20Is), Gibson's eventual exit was coming for some time; it was widely predicted after the heavy defeats in India and New Zealand late last year and the later 2-1 loss in the home Tests to New Zealand.

It was obvious by his absence as the team assembled in Grenada on Sunday, three days prior to the opening match against Bangladesh, that his time was up.

That's where the familiar double-speak kicked in.

If Pybus does put Arthur's name forward, it would be a complete contradiction of his comments contained in his report to the WICB in March

Immediately, the board's marketing and communications manager, Imran Khan, asserted that Gibson was still head coach, adding the puzzling rider that an announcement "in relation to a number of changes" would be made the next day.

When none was forthcoming, the media called the WICB president Dave Cameron for clarification. He acknowledged that Gibson was, indeed, not in Grenada, as anyone interested could tell him. He added that he could "neither confirm nor deny" reports that Gibson had been fired.

Late Tuesday, the terse announcement finally came from the board that Gibson was no longer the head coach. Newspaper headlines reflected the perplexity.

The Barbados Nation's headlines on successive days were "Still Gibson", "Gibson gone?" and, the finality, "Gibson gone". The London-based Times carried the story under the banner "Gibson walks out on West Indies". The Stabroek News of Guyana took the middle road, "Gibson, WICB sever ties". It is still not known whether or not Gibson walked before he was pushed.

So while the well-travelled 45-year-old Barbadian moves on, the hunt is on for a new man to take charge.

One Trinidad newspaper wrote that Richard Pybus, the Englishman appointed the WICB's director of cricket, will make the recommendation. It reported that he had already met with Mickey Arthur, the South African dismissed as Australia's coach last year, making him the frontrunner. Arthur was one of the five overseas coaches in the recently concluded Caribbean Premier League.

If Pybus does put Arthur's name forward, it would be a complete contradiction of his comments contained in his report to the WICB in March.

"The introduction of coaches from other cricket cultures (the Australians Bennett King and John Dyson were West Indies head coaches between 2004 and 2010), and players having single rooms on tour, brought about changes in the team culture that manifested in a breaking down of the natural handing on of Caribbean cricket wisdom, senior player to junior player," he wrote.

"Informal coaching by elite cricketers was replaced by formal coaching from an alien culture with a different values system… Confusion over the natural Caribbean way of playing and coaching emerged."

The WICB has not confirmed or denied whether it would again turn to "formal coaching from an alien culture with a different values system".

Tony Cozier has written about and commentated on cricket in the Caribbean for 50 years

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • kent on August 24, 2014, 12:11 GMT

    Yes, WICB did not deal with Gibson's dismissal properly. Their was so much uncertainty regarding his departure and no one even WICB executives seemed to know if he was still coach or not. Come on WICB,such a simple procedure was handled rather ineptly. you can do better than that, surely. As Mr. Cozier said, you had ample time to seek and appoint a new coach and make a smooth and effective transfer of coaches. This doubt and confusion was entirely unnecessary and not warranted as the cricketers were preparing to engage Bangladesh in battle. How can you demand high standards of professionalism from your team and not appearing to do the same. Let this be the last time such a thing occurs!!!

  • Arif on August 24, 2014, 4:40 GMT

    cricuscrazy. Dravid was the batting consultant and was suppose to help the Indian batsman's on this England tour. Look what happened.

  • Clifford on August 22, 2014, 14:01 GMT

    I don't know about all these names but I do know that WI upper order batting in all forms and our fast bowling need the most help. It's a bit strange WI were 34-5 (again top order collapse) in the last match again Bangladesh considering how well top order batsmen were doing in the CPL

  • Krish on August 22, 2014, 1:27 GMT

    I think they need someone like a Rahul Dravid or VVS as batting consultant.These are guys who have proved themselves over and over again in the longer version of the game.

  • CRIC on August 21, 2014, 21:54 GMT

    The cricket calendar is so full nowadays that a "good time" for the move would be hard to come by. Gibson needed moving out and the region can hopefully now look forward to a strong but wise leader being chosen to coach these talented cricketers back to where they belong. Onwards and upwards, stumps halfway down the ground!

  • Chris on August 21, 2014, 19:51 GMT

    Roger Harper did it from 2000 -2003 so not sure they will go back.

  • Dummy4 on August 21, 2014, 15:21 GMT

    I think Gibson time is up and the way he treated some players can't be poorer than a foreign coach. Based on the CPL it did seem that our Caribbean players gelled well foreign coach, as much as Arthur is much respected, for me personally, Roger Harper and Robin Singh should be considered for the head coach.

  • Dummy4 on August 21, 2014, 13:54 GMT

    I usually like to read Tonys' comments and for the most part always agree with him but I am a little dismayed with his reasoning concerning the timing of Gibson's exit. Do you remember "Otis on thin ice" article recently? When you are walking on thin ice Sir ,you just don't know when the ice will break and it is over

  • Patrick on August 21, 2014, 12:47 GMT

    A foreign coach would not be a bad idea. Too much favouring own players with a local coach. E.g what was it with Tino Best for so long? Duncan Fletcher was always going to fail with India as Dhoni is just too powerful in the set-up. Why else would Jadeja be in the Test team? Fletcher would not be a bad pick if BCCI do a WICB and release him.

  • Patrick on August 21, 2014, 12:38 GMT

    Croftie reckons that Gibson would have had a plan for WC 2015. Well who says the plan would have been good anyway. He has had enough chances. Good riddance, Bravo is right in saying they're not missing him.

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