Cricket West Indies chief executive, Johnny Grave, has confirmed short-term contract extensions for under-fire chief selector Roger Harper and his panel, but said the move was simply to minimise disruption amid a heavy volume of international commitments and the ongoing review of the selection process.
Speaking in the wake of West Indies’ T20 World Cup travesty, Grave said the two-year contracts of selectors, along with those of team management, had been extended only until year-end, and that an announcement on any new appointments or renewals would be made by CWI following that period.
“There has not been an extension [long term]. The team management as well as selectors were coming up to the end of contracts signed two years ago, and we’ve extended most of them just until the end of the year. They’re going through a review period at the moment,” Grave told Starcom Radio’s Mason and Guest cricket show.
“We didn’t really want to be reviewing performances and extending or not extending contracts during a World Cup. With the amount of cricket we’ve got going on at the moment, we’ve just extended everyone until the end of the year.”
He added: “Because of the volume of cricket we’ve had this summer in particular, with almost non-stop cricket from June all the way through to the selection of the World Cup squad (in September)…there just hasn’t been enough time for us to go through the process as a management group as well as making recommendations to the board.”
Harper, and the panel comprising Miles Bascombe and head coach Phil Simmons, were appointed in October 2019 following an overhaul of the selection process carried out by the then newly-elected Ricky Skerritt administration.
The body, however, have found themselves at the centre of heavy public criticism and the subject of calls from some pundits for their sacking, following West Indies’ abysmal outing at the T20 World Cup which saw the Kieron Pollard-led unit lose four of their five group games to finish one from bottom of Group I. Prior to the tournament, selectors had also come under fire for the 15-man squad chosen, with ageing players like Chris Gayle, Lendl Simmons, Ravi Rampaul and Dwayne Bravo all included at the expense of younger talent. But Grave argued that despite the public outcry, it was important CWI remained focussed on their long term vision of implementing strong systems for West Indies cricket.
“I understand why fans are talking about selection and why they’re talking about people but we’re more focussed as a management group on continuing to improve the systems of West Indies cricket,” he pointed out.
“This isn’t really about recycling people through a system. We have done that before and I would argue with limited success. What we actually need to focus on is improving the system in which we are producing players and preparing players on that world stage.
“That’s where the focus is. It’s not, in my opinion, about changing one player or changing a selector or changing a member of the management group, it’s about making long term structural changes to our system so we can better produce winning teams to compete on that international stage.”