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Skerritt insists on selection policy to bring out best cricketers

BY SANJAY MYERS
Senior staff reporter
myerss@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, April 20, 2019

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New Cricket West Indies (CWI) President Ricky Skerritt insists that he will introduce a selection policy that brings out the finest “warriors” to represent the regional team.

At the election in March, Skerritt wrested the CWI top job from incumbent Whycliffe “Dave” Cameron, a man who oversaw the implementation of a system in which players were selected based on participation in regional tournaments.

That selection guideline contributed to driving a wedge between some so-called elite players, most of whom ply their trade in lucrative Twenty20 leagues around the world, and the previous administration.

Skerritt said moving to a less rigid policy will bring the best out of the West Indies team, which is eyeing the 50-over Cricket World Cup set for May to June in England and Wales.

“What we're trying to do is widen the pool of players available for selection and increase competitiveness. You're not going to reward players just because they're nice and because they're available locally; you have to reward players based on excellence,” Skerritt told journalists ahead of a meeting with members of the board at Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in Jamaica Wednesday morning.

“We have to put together a team of cricket warriors, a team of battle-ready talented sportsmen. If you're going to World Cup, for instance, you're not sending your best behaved players; you're sending players most capable of winning cricket.”

Regarding the much-publicised tension between players and the Cameron-led administration, Skerritt, a former West Indies team manager and St Kitts and Nevis Cabinet minister, argued the situation is not as bad as some regional cricket followers believe.

“Relations with players are affected by various situations, not least of which is pay and timeliness of pay, and selection policy, and availability of players at times when West Indies need them. My encounters so far tell me there was less of a problem than appeared to be, and that maybe there were individual problems which were extrapolated to be wider than they really were.

“The players want to play for Cricket West Indies, the players want to play for the region, the players want to play for the fans. All the players I've spoken to, except where there have been individual setbacks in relationships, want to play cricket for the West Indies,” he said, suggesting that some players who appeared reluctant to play are likely to make themselves available for the West Indies.

Since taking over, Skerritt removed the previous CWI selection panel of Chairman Courtney Brown, Lockhart Sebastien and Eldine Baptiste. The interim pair of Selection Chairman Robert Haynes and Head Coach Floyd Reifer will partner the team captain in picking players.

“The selectors will look at players wherever they can look at them and make a determination which is the best player available for which particular task at hand; we have to fit players for purpose. We cannot win globally if we just put in a church choir together.

“[The selectors] will be discussing with the players, looking at data and they will be coming to good cricket decisions; not interfered with by politicians and administrators. That, we hope, will be the big difference,” the new CWI president explained.

He said the current situation will cover the limited-overs' tour to Ireland in May, as well as the World Cup but a long-term policy could be implemented by the time India visit the Caribbean for Test, One-Day International and T20 matches between July and August.

“There is a task force that will review the selection system and that system will come forward hopefully within three months. In the meantime… the captain and the coach and the experienced selection chairman will be the ones for Ireland and the Cricket World Cup.

“It's temporary and hopefully by the home series against India, if not right afterwards we'll have a new selection system involved, that pays attention also to youth cricket and women's cricket in a way that we believe will bring the best possible selection decisions,” Skerritt said.

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