Windians not party-goers
--manager Skerritt

By Tony Cozier In PORT-OF-SPAIN
Stabroek News
March 16, 2001

EXACTLY a year since taking up his post, West Indies manager Ricky Skerritt delivered a stirring mission statement on behalf of himself and his team yesterday.

Stating that it had been "a growth year for the team", he dismissed misconceptions of the lifestyle of his players, defined his management objectives and derided comparisons with the ways of other teams.

He was speaking to the media at the launching of celebrations of the 50th Test at the Queen's Park Oval, the second against South Africa starting tomorrow.

"Contrary to public rumour, the West Indies team is not a bunch of party-goers who drink alcohol and stay out until five in the morning," Skerritt said.

"However, we don't run a military camp and we don't have sentries outside every door," he added.

"We don't delve into private lives, as the media tried to do in Australia," he said, in a clear reference to the press attention on Brian Lara's girlfriend, Lynnsey Ward, during the recent tour.

Skerritt said he and his management team were trying to teach the young players "about life and (about) understanding what it is being a professional".

"Some have grown up with bad habits for many years and we can't expect to turn that around overnight," he said.

While they were becoming more disciplined and the work ethic was improving, Skerrit was adamant that his players should not try to copy the ways of those from other countries.

"They will not be Australian, they will not be English, they will not be South African," he said.

"They are West Indians and they must abide by the values and traditions that West Indians have brought to the game of cricket."

"If anyone, whether inside or outside the team, tries to interfere with that, I don't want any part of it," he asserted.

Skerritt, the 44-year-old Kittian business executive and Rhodes Scholar, was appointed manager last February on a three-year contract in succession to

Clive Lloyd, the former captain who had been in the post since 1996.

His first Test in charge began at Queen's Park on March 16 last year against Zimbabwe. The West Indies won by routing Zimbabwe for 63 on the last day when

their goal was only 99.

The West Indies won both Tests in the series and then took the series against Pakistan with the only outright result in the three Tests, by one wicket. But

two subsequent series overseas have ended in defeat, 3-1 in England and 5-0 in Australia.

Skerritt called it a year of "active transition".

"After a year, we're getting to grips with it," he said.