Sir Vivian disappointed at being overlooked
--for WI coaching post

Stabroek News
February 24, 2000

ST JOHN'S, Antigua, (CANA) - Antiguans and Barbudans have expressed shock and disappointment over the West Indies Cricket Board's decision to overlook former captain Sir Vivian Richards as coach of the regional side.

The WICB on Tuesday named former Windies all-rounder Roger Harper of Guyana as the new coach to replace Sir Vivian who served in an interim capacity during the ill-fated tour of New Zealand between December and January.

Harper's assistant, Jamaican Jeff Dujon, a former West Indies wicketkeeper/batsman, and Kittitian manager Richard "Ricky" Skeritt (former manager of the West Indies youth and Leeward Islands sides) are expected to begin their three-year appointments on March 1.

But negative reactions have come from Sports Minister Senator Guy Yearwood, ex-West Indies Youth captain Zorol Barthley and callers to a sports discussion programme on ABS Television Tuesday night.

The Antigua SUN newspaper quoted WICB chief executive officer Steve Camacho as saying that Harper was "the most well-rounded and qualified candidate" from a short list of candidates the board interviewed at its headquarters here last weekend.

Sir Vivian was first appointed as interim coach in June during the World Cup and then for New Zealand after Malcolm Marshall became ill and then died in November.

"I am disappointed, but I believe that we have to give support and get behind who is selected. The most important thing is West Indies cricket, and we can never, ever forget the objective, which is the success of the team," Sir Vivian told the SUN.

"The important thing to remember is that West Indies cricket is much bigger than individuals who make the decisions," he said.

"I am finished with West Indies cricket," the SUN quoted Sir Vivian's mother Grathel Richards, as saying. "Not even my radio will be turned to Test cricket or anything that has to do with the West Indies.

"This man put so much into West Indies cricket. His father (the late Malcolm Richards) used to tell him to play for records but he never did that. He was a team man, a West Indian man and this is what they do to him," the paper reported her saying.

The guidelines asked for persons having "advanced coaching certificate and certification or training in sports psychology and evidence of on-going development in the field, or a combination of training and experience as a Test or First Class player."

"It is unfortunate that the WICB did not see the wisdom in continuing to make use of the talents of one of the world's greatest batsmen," Yearwood said in a statement.

"To be certified does not necessarily mean that you are the best man for the job. Knowledge of the game and experience are worth more than anything in this entire world," he added.

Barthley, who captained the regional youth side in 1985, said the decision is an "insult" to Sir Vivian and West Indies cricket.

"I fell insulted. It is not only a slap in the face of Viv Richards but also a slap in the face of West Indies cricket. It is an embarrassment."

"I don't think they (WICB) wanted Viv Richards," Barthley said while reflecting on his exclusion from the four One-Day tournaments between August and October last year.

He accused the board of favouring individuals who they felt comfortable with. "They are looking for people who they can control and who would not ask why?

Barthley also called on Antiguans to rally behind Sir Vivian.

"We should let the board know how we feel whether it means taking up placards and demonstrate. It is an insult to our national hero."

Callers to the Live Sports programme also expressed similar sentiments.

"We have got to get real and unless we do so the board will not know how we feel," said one caller.

Another said fans should "boycott the two matches" scheduled for the Antigua Recreation Ground during the tours by Zimbabwe and Pakistan.

The ARG is the venue for a One-Day International between Pakistan and Zimbabwe in April and the third Test involving the West Indies and Pakistan from May 25-29.

Sir Vivian, began his cricket career in 1974 and retired from the international stage in 1991.

He played in 121 Tests, scored 8,540 runs and holds the distinction of being the only West Indian skipper never to have lost a Test series.