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The second coming of Mr Pybus

Saturday, February 10, 2018

As those closest to the game will be well aware, there is a significant amount of cricket being played in the Caribbean this month.

The Cricket West Indies (CWI) Super 50 tournament is ongoing in Barbados and Antigua. Also, England 'A', referred to as England Lions, are currently in Jamaica for two unofficial 'Tests' against West Indies 'A' — the first of which begins tomorrow at the Trelawny Multi-Purpose Stadium on the island's north coast.

Devoted Jamaican cricket watchers will have noted — and a few will have seen for themselves — a practise game at Sabina Park earlier this week between the young English cricketers and a Jamaica Select Eleven, comprising cricketers who missed the cut for the Jamaica Scorpions squad in the Super 50 tournament.

That game should have served as an eye-opener for the pessimists in the local cricket fraternity who seem to enjoy suggesting that the talent pool is entirely bare. In fact, there were a few outstanding performances from the Jamaica Select Eleven — none more so than that from the exciting 23-year-old wicketkeeper/batsman Mr Aldaine Thomas, who made a first-innings century.

All that aside though, perhaps the most significant development in regional cricket just recently was news that Cricket West Indies has again employed Mr Richard Pybus, this time as high performance director.

Cricket watchers will recall that Mr Pybus had mixed reviews as CWI director of cricket from October 2013 to December 2016.

Given his record as a highly successful coach who is said to have contributed significantly to the development of a number of South Africa's current top cricketers, Mr Pybus may well be best suited to his current job.

We noted word from Cricket West Indies that, “In this new role, Pybus will work alongside the chairman of selectors and all the technical coaches in the region to improve the high-performance programmes and standards within franchise cricket. His role will also include, but not (be) limited to standardising coaching and preparation for regional teams and overseeing a talent identification programme, from the Under-19 level all the way to the WINDIES International level.”

Mr Pybus says “I am delighted to be rejoining Cricket West Indies in this newly created role. I am looking forward to working with Jimmy Adams (director of cricket) and the rest of the cricket department to improve standards within a system that I know well. My focus will be on developing our high-performance programmes and helping to identify and coach the most talented cricketers in the Caribbean.”

Crucially, as we understand it, Mr Pybus will carry out his duties mainly at the Coolidge Cricket Ground in Antigua, which was developed by imprisoned American investment banker Allen Stanford for his Stanford 20/20 tournament.

In what will very probably go down as being among its top achievements, the current Cricket West Indies regime, led by Mr Dave Cameron, bought the ground in 2016 as a joint venture with the Antigua and Barbuda Government.

Unlike with previous high performance projects at university campuses in Grenada and more latterly in Barbados, Mr Pybus and his support staff, presumably, will now be able to conduct development programmes with full autonomy and greater control.

We wish Mr Pybus well, for the greater good of West Indies cricket.