Harper is new Windies coach

by Orin Davidson
Stabroek News
February 23, 2000

Roger Harper is about to make another huge upward leap in his association with West Indies cricket. The West Indies Cricket Board yesterday announced that the 36-year-old Guyanese will take over from Malcolm Marshall as the next long term coach for the senior team on three-year period beginning March 1.

The previously appointed`A' team coach and former Test all-rounder will be working along with former West Indies wicketkeeper Jeff Dujon who will be Harper's assistant while Kittian Richard Skerritt is the new manager.

An upbeat Harper, who has been `A' team coach for the last two years, said yesterday he is eagerly looking forward to the challenge. "Naturally I am very delighted to have been given the opportunity to coach the senior team," he said from his Queenstown, Georgetown home last evening. "I have no illusions about the enormity of the task but I am looking forward to it with great anticipation," he added.

With the team experiencing one of its leanest spells success-wise, Harper feels his main task will be to get the players focussed individually and as a team on the whole. "There is no easy cure and it will take lots of hard work, he added. For the team's next assignment against Zimbabwe and Pakistan beginning next month, Harper said West Indies cannot afford to underrate anyone and will have to give of their best as combined unit.

Harper, who played 25 Test matches and 105 One-day Internationals in a 12-year career from 1983 to 1995 topped the list of candidates which also included former West Indies captain and batting great Sir Vivian Richards.

The Guyanese holds an Advanced West Indies Coaching Certificate and also an Advanced Level Coaching Certificate from the National Coaching Foundation of England.

Skerritt is a former manager of the West Indies youth cricket team (1985), while Harper and Dujon are former West Indies Test players. Skerritt is chairman of the board and managing director of Delisle Walwyn and Company Limited in St Kitts and was picked for the job ahead names like Vincentian Carl Glasgow, and Barbadians Joel Garner and Tony King, who were also shortlisted.

Dr Rudi Webster was appointed team performance enhancer, and Ronald Rogers as the physiotherapist/trainer for the Cable and Wireless 2000 series against Zimbabwe and Pakistan.

Harper and Dujon with be associating for the first time at the coaching level but the new head coach anticipates a good working relationship with the Jamaican. "I played with him a lot and even once shared a room with him and I expect that good relationship to continue," Harper added.

The former off spinner also lauded the appointment of Webster and feels that he has a lot to offer. "His input will be critically important, he is very experienced and I am sure will play a vital role for the team."

Harper will leave tomorrow for Jamaica for a meeting with the West Indies board and the other appointees.