The Ricky Skerritt interview...
Stabroek News
April 12, 2003

Related Links: Articles on Windies cricket
Letters Menu Archival Menu

Team manager Ricky Skerritt was the only person retained by the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) as the axe fell on a number of personnel last week.

A new coach, captain and vice-captain were announced at a media conference in Barbados.

Skerritt, the only man to retain his management post, was interviewed by Ryan Narine, editor of

He spoke on a number of issues including the World Cup, his own tenure and his relationship with players and the West Indies Board.

Following is an abridged version of the interview.

Q: When you were appointed, the plan was to have a three-man management team with an assistant coach. Why did the assistant coach Jeff Dujon suddenly disappear?

Skerritt: In 2000, we were, in effect, thrown together as a management team.

My understanding is that the position of assistant coach had not even been envisaged by the Board prior to the time of our appointment.

I know of several coaches who would have applied for the assistant-coach position if they had known that such a position was available.

This is pertinent in the context that an individual might be a good assistant-coach but not necessarily a good head-coach and vice versa.

After the Australian tour the WICB transferred Dujon to a development coaching position where it was felt he could be more effective. As far as I know he is still employed in that position.

Q: I want to get your take on the ICC Trophy episode when Lara took ill. You mentioned "Hepatitis" as the probable diagnosis, something that angered Lara because of issues related to privacy invasion. Did that whole episode put a strain on your relationship with Lara? Is that something you regret?

A: The ICC release quoted me as saying that Lara had been hospitalised with "suspected Hepatitis".

I had said this to the ICC representative based on what I had been actually told by the doctor. Because of the circumstances of the match, and my inexperience, I had begun to handle a personal medical situation in the same way that I usually handled a cricket-related injury.

Brian was understandably upset and told me so later that evening. It brought out an unprecedented issue of whether a performing player's reason for hospitalisation during a match is private or public.

On reflection I admitted that I had made an error of judgment in this situation and apologised to Brian the same night. It was a learning experience for me. The relationship between Brian and myself continues to grow.

Q: Your management team sent Dillon home for refusing to practice, a punishment that was subsequently overturned. Then, we had the Marlon Samuels issue, when he was dismissed from the tour of India, another decision that the board overruled because of a misunderstanding over the application of the rules. In retrospect, was that episode handled properly? Was there a sense from you that the WICB was hurting your efforts to be tough on indiscipline?

A: I honestly don't believe that the WICB at any time was against any of my attempts to be tough on indiscipline.

However, the perception of the WICB trying to micro manage the squad from a distance is an awkward ongoing situation that needs to be addressed in its entirety by all concerned.

Q: Let's talk a bit about (in)discipline. Harper spoke about insularity being the biggest "monster" in West Indies cricket, even hinting that inter-island rivalries had seeped into the team. We've heard about cliques forming on tour and during that Indian tour. How much of a problem is that with this group?

A: None of these issues are new. When I joined in 2000, I did a needs assessment which identified some of these issues as being at crisis level. Team spirit and confidence at that time was at an all-time low and indiscipline was rampant.

Our team spirit has grown significantly since and continues to get better as the team composition stabilises. However towards the end of the World Cup we saw some negative attitudes unveiled in a few individuals which have given us cause for alarm.

Q: I want to revisit the World Cup. After the big opening win against South Africa, what went wrong? Did over-confidence seep in?

A: Three years ago one of our biggest problems was poor confidence. Now we find ourselves having to guard against over-confidence. Unfortunately I believe it did get through our guard for the New Zealand match.

However in both matches that we lost, our fielding errors came back to haunt us. Our inconsistency in the field still must be a big concern today.

However, although we should not have lost against either New Zealand or Sri Lanka, we were unlucky to drop two points because of rain against Bangladesh, the weakest team in the tournament. In the final analysis those two points would have carried us into the Super Six round.

Q: Harper confirmed a report that Lara stormed out of a net session because he was upset at the quality of bowlers available during practice? Can you explain what really went wrong there?

A: This incident was first brought to my attention by the media 10 days after it occurred. By then it had been blown out of proportion. The coach had not considered it serious enough to report it to me and told me so when I investigated.

Brian had overreacted to a situation but at no time had it compromised his relationship with the coach.

Net bowlers are provided by local cricket authorities at the request of management. The manager communicates the number and the types of bowlers required and also pays for the services when necessary, but cannot guarantee the quality or numbers that will be made available by local authorities.

Q: In that crucial game with Sri Lanka, after it was known that Sarwan would return and bat, was that message relayed to Chanderpaul and Drakes and were they given specific instructions? If not, why not?

A: The loss was extremely painful and hurt our team significantly by bringing out the frustrations in some of us. It was not easy to recover for the last match and the fact that we did so is testimony to how much this team has improved over the past few years.

The matter of whether or not tactical instructions were communicated to the batsmen has been investigated.

Regrettably I have discovered that the coach's instructions were not clearly received by the batsmen. This is something that should never be allowed to happen again.

Q: What are you most proud of since taking over as manager?

A: There is no single moment or highlight. However I am proud of the fact that we are regaining respect in the outside world from administrators, fans, media and competing players. Hopefully we can soon do so in the Caribbean region as well.

Q: And the lowlight?

A: The lowlight for me was the unfortunate decision of the former CEO and President to terminate my services after one year.

It brought to a head the issue of the impact of cricket politics and micro management by the Board on the operations of the West Indies team. I would like to change the low level of trust, that still exists to a lesser extent, between the Board and our squad. (reprinted from the Trinidad Guardian)

Site Meter