Desmond Haynes was right. The West Indies opening great had publicly questioned the process behind Richard Pybus' return to cricket in the West Indies as high performance director - a post newly created by Cricket West Indies (CWI). The much-travelled coach returns just over a year after he had left as team director.
"It would be great to ask the [CWI] president [Dave Cameron] about this appointment and when was this position advertised," Haynes posted on his Facebook account. The answer, ESPNcricinfo can confirm, is that it wasn't: the post was not advertised and Cameron did have a direct hand in Pybus' appointment, without interviewing any candidates.
Haynes was not the only skeptic. Darren Sammy, the former West Indies captain who led during Pybus' tenure as director, expressed disbelief at his return on Twitter. "Lies lies lies... Must be fake news," Sammy tweeted on February 9. A day later, in response to a reply, he tweeted: "Well I'm still hoping that nightmare is not true #fakenews he's not coming back at CWI."
Johnny Grave, the CWI chief executive, would not comment on Cameron's role in the matter but confirmed that Pybus' appointment was approved by the board of directors. "Everyone, including the senior management at CWI, is behind Pybus' appointment," Grave told ESPNcricinfo.
According to Grave, Pybus was headhunted and the Englishman will play a consultant's role, working about 200 days a year over a two-year contract. Pybus is expected to be the "bridge" between Jimmy Adams, the director of cricket and the man who succeeded him, and Graeme West, who is the manager at the High Performance Centre (HPC) in Antigua.
"It is a strategic appointment," Grave said. "It is a two-year consultancy role and it is specifically to do with establishing the HPC at the Coolidge Cricket Ground [in Antigua]. And ensuring the franchise-based Professional Cricket League that Richard set up four years ago becomes an even more elite, professional environment."
Grave believes that even though players from the Caribbean have professional contracts to play regional cricket, a lot of work remains in order to create the elite environment of the best domestic competitions overseas. Pybus' extensive experience, including his previous stint in the West Indies, makes him, in CWI's eyes, the right choice. "Richard is specifically coming in to work with our franchise teams, establishing the HPC in Antigua, and to allow us to produce better cricketers on the international stage," Grave said.
Pybus' first stint with CWI, which ended in January 2017 after three years, was a controversial one. It was Pybus who made it mandatory for a player to participate in the domestic first-class and one-day cricket tournaments to qualify for selection for West Indies. Many senior players vehemently opposed the policy and instead opted to solely operate in overseas Twenty20 leagues.
Pybus, who was recently shortlisted for coach by the Bangladesh Cricket Board, did not react to Sammy's tweets, but did defend his track record in reply to Haynes.
"Hi Desmond, as I'm a FB friend I presume it's for my attention too," Pybus posted on Facebook late on February 14. "To clarify a couple of points, I was invited by Bangladesh to go and meet their board, I didn't apply or was shortlisted for any positions. I've coached for nearly 30 years, I started the junior provincial program[me] at Border [in South Africa] with Mark Boucher, Makhaya Ntini and Justin Kemp. Went on to set up the Border Academy and coach Border. Mark and Makhaya both played in that team. Coached Pakistan at two Cricket World Cups, including the final in '99. Fast forward through nine championships won across all formats in South Africa, 3 x double in three consecutive years, Steyn, Morkel, du Plessis coming through those winning set-ups.
"And although WICB [CWI] doesn't seem to get much credit for the three World Cups [World T20, Women's World T20 and Under-19 World Cup] won in 2016, they weren't an accident, the U-19 and women were run by the HP program[me]. I wasn't replaced by Jimmy, I'd declined an extension. Regards Richard."
Nagraj Gollapudi is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo