Michael Hall tipped to replace Skerritt

Guyana Chronicle
December 15, 2002

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THE clock has run out on Ricky Skerritt's topsy-turvy tenure as manager of the West Indies team.

Despite assurances from the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) that Skerritt's application for contract renewal would be given equal treatment, there are moves afoot to give the job to chief operations officer Michael Hall.

Hall, who once served as general manager of the Sports Development Foundation in his native Jamaica, joined the WICB staff in July 2001 to replace the executive secretary Andrew Sealy when that position was made redundant.

Now, sources say the board has asked Hall to prepare to take over from the controversial Skerritt, who, along with coach Roger Harper, is effectively the last major staff put in place by the previous Pat Rousseau administration. It was the Rousseau regime that fired Skerritt, only to see him reinstated in dramatic circumstances last June.

Hall sidestepped queries from CaribbeanCricket.com, saying he was unfamiliar with those reports. "I am flattered that your 'solid sources' have tipped me to replace the current manager, but this is a situation with which I am not familiar at this time," Hall said in an e-mail exchange.

Hall, who serves in the CEO slot that was specially created when Sealy departed, said the WICB had only just begun the process of advertising the posts of coach and manager of the senior. "In fact ads will begin to appear in select Caribbean newspapers from tomorrow, with full placement expected to be achieved by Sunday," he insisted.

However, sources say Skerritt's term will "definitely end" when his contract expires at the end of next year's World Cup. The 44-year-old Kittitian drove the nail in his own coffin recently with the public (and premature) disclosure of Brian Lara's illness as hepatitis long before proper tests had been conducted.

Lara was so angered by Skerritt's press statements that he complained that the manager invaded his privacy, forcing the WICB to ban any public statements on Lara's illness. To this day, the official diagnosis remains a mystery although it is believed the champion batsman contracted a strain of hepatitis.

The outspoken Skerritt has rubbed colleagues the wrong way with what sources describe as "haughty and abrasive" attitude and even the players in the dressing room reportedly chafe at the way he makes decisions and communicates them.

A more recent sign that the WICB was fed-up with Skerritt came over his handling of the suspension of Jamaican batsman Marlon Samuels from the tour of India for breaking curfew, a decision that was overturned by WICB boss Rev. Wes Hall because Skerritt never followed the board's guidelines.

At the time, Rev. Hall went public with his admonition of Skerritt, pointing out that WICB guidelines did not warrant tour dismissal. "We were advised whatever punitive measure was invoked had to be commensurate with the guidelines set out for discipline and this legal opinion was conveyed to the manager. For breaking curfew it's a fine of 15 per cent of the match fee for the first offence, and for a second offence, on the same tour, it's expulsion. In view of this, the manager was advised he should write Samuels and inform him of this," Rev. Hall explained.

WICB insiders say Rev. Hall is very wary of the public relations nightmare the board is facing over the administrative bungling of the staff at its Antigua headquarters and ridding itself of Skerritt in favour of a more seasoned (and media-savvy) administrator like Michael Hall is seen as the first step to fix things.

"When Rousseau fired Skerritt last year, it was for a reason. They hired him and after four Test series, they decided he was unsuitable for the post," one insider said.

Meanwhile, the WICB has posted the job summary for the new manager, which mostly includes administrative duties during home and overseas tours.

Among other things, the new manager will be in charge of:

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