West Indies’ interim head coach, Richard Pybus, claims to have a near Zen-like focus leading into Wednesday’s first Test despite his recent appointment causing the latest round of political infighting in the Caribbean.
After three years as director of cricket the Englishman returned as a high performance director last year before now stepping into a nine-month tenure as head coach following Stuart Law’s switch to Middlesex and an interim spell for the team under Nic Pothas.
The appointment appears to have been made unilaterally by the West Indies Cricket Board president, Dave Cameron – Pybus was not on the original shortlist drawn up by the current director of cricket, Jimmy Adams – and it prompted the former captain Darren Sammy to offer a withering assessment of his credentials on social media.
The Leeward Islands president, Enoch Lewis, has now been referred to the board’s ethics committee after speaking out publicly too, having been the one vote against when Cameron ran his decision past the six territories that make up West Indies.
“It’s part of the landscape. I have just got to get on with the job, really,” said Pybus, after putting the West Indies players through their paces in training on Sunday.
“Criticism is part of the tapestry and the drama around sport. I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into England. I don’t want to sound too ‘Zen’ but I’m really focused on the first day and making sure we’re ready.”
Cricket West Indies defended the track record of Pybus on Friday, describing him as the “architect” on their “trifecta” of titles in 2016 (World T20, Women’s World T20 and Under-19 World Cup) given he was director of cricket at the time, something Sammy, captain for the first of those, described as “nonsense”.
Pybus said: ‚“I don’t want to unpack the past. Darren is entitled to his opinion. I don’t want to give boring one-liners but I did three years as director of cricket and what’s in the results bank is in the results bank. It’s the players on the park who deliver. But I was satisfied at the time with how the programmes supported players.
“It’s the Caribbean, you’ve got 16 countries. It’s not like England, Australia or South Africa. With the internal politics, there’s always discussion. Unless you’ve spent a considerable amount of time in the region it’s difficult to understand quite how challenging it is.”
While the Test team is settled under the captaincy of Jason Holder and has players loyal to first-class cricket, it will be intriguing to see how the one-day team shapes up selection-wise under Pybus, both on this tour and leading into the summer’s World Cup in England.
The former Pakistan and Bangladesh head coach is said to have a strained relationship with Marlon Samuels, for example, and with the 36-year-old batsman having averaged 22 over the past two years, at a strike-rate of 63, his place looks vulnerable.