The last of the three Ws, Sir Everton Weekes has passed.

President of the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA), Conde Riley, is wrong to ask for the immediate sacking of West Indies head coach, Phil Simmons.

I have great respect for Mr Riley, who has served Barbados and West Indies cricket admirably for more than 20 years, but his utterances this week were, in a word, irresponsible.

Mr Riley’s comments have created an issue where there should be none.

Here are the facts as I understand them.

Simmons had a death in his family and there was a funeral which would, if he were to go, place him at risk of contracting COVID-19 because he is now outside of the bio-secure controls at Old Trafford, Manchester where the West Indies cricket team is staying ahead of a three-Test series against England.

Once outside of the bubble, Simmons (and the coach must have been fully aware of this, put himself at the risk of adding to the 313, 483 cases of Coronavirus in the United Kingdom.

The CWI and the England and Wales Cricket Board had come up with a strategy for ensuring the safety of cricketers in this series, inclusive of protocols for when somebody has to leave the bio-secure environment.

Those protocols satisfied both parties that those inside the environment would be kept safe from those who come into it from outside.

Simmons would now be treated like somebody coming from outside and would have to self-isolate and go through testing before being re-integrated with those who had remained inside the bubble.

That being said, once all protocols are observed, there would be no risk to the players and/or staff, even if Simmons contracts COVID-19. So far, he has tested negative on two occasions.

The BCA president pointed out that he had received a number of phone calls from concerned parents and members of the BCA with concerns about the safety of the players, given Simmons’ actions.

However, as a member of the CWI board, Riley should have known that the protocols, put in place before the players left the Caribbean, would have meant no added risk because of Simmons’ exit and subsequent return. There should never have been this sort of knee-jerk reaction.

As a member of the CWI board, it should have been incumbent on Mr Riley to assure those calling, that the maintenance of the players’ safety had not been compromised.

Instead, Mr Riley fuelled an unjustified panic regarding the situation and ‘put pen to paper’ in an email to the board, that clearly spoke to an uninformed position.

"I just heard on the radio that our head coach Mr Phil Simmons attended a funeral recently and is now being quarantined as a result. If this is true, I am calling for his immediate removal as head coach,” read the email.

Simmons wasn’t being ‘quarantined as a result’. That was part of the protocol agreed to before he left. And the president of the BCA should never ben using language like “if this is true.” Why wouldn’t you get all the facts before penning such a potentially damaging missive?

Mr Riley went on to call Simmons’ behaviour “inconsiderate and reckless” but I submit that it was carefully planned and not reckless at all. There was no danger to anyone but Simmons himself.

Cricket West Indies had made a public statement about Simmons’ activities and Riley’s email runs in stark contrast to that.

"The entire process of his exit and re-entry to the bio-secure location was approved and managed by the medical teams of the CWI and the ECB and strictly followed protocols set up prior to the tour which addressed such scenarios," read the CWI statement.

How could Mr Riley and the CWI be so divergent in their views?

Mr Riley also suggested that the CWI be pro-active in anticipation of backlash from the English press.

No such backlash has come.

In fact, the only question that has come from the English press about Simmons’ actions, have had nothing to do with player safety.

Alzarri Joseph was asked if Simmons’ self-isolation would impact the ongoing practice game the West Indies are now playing in preparation for the first Test on July 8.

Joseph’s response was instructive.

According to the young fast bowler, the team of coaches was prepared for Simmons’ absence and everybody, including the players, already know what their jobs are.

Mr Riley should also know what his job is, and it isn’t to suggest that a coach be fired.

Now let’s hope the West Indies can put this behind them and get back to the business of retaining the Wisden Trophy at the end of #RaisetheBat series.

West Indies head coach Phil Simmons was granted permission to attend his father-in-law’s funeral in England last Friday. That’s the word from Cricket West Indies CEO Johnny Grave, who was responding to queries from Sportsmax.TV.

Simmons has been self-isolating since and will only be permitted to re-join the team on Thursday, July 2, if he returns two negative Covid-19 tests.

However, his decision to leave the bio-secure location has raised some concerns and questions over whether the head coach unilaterally decided to leave the facility where the team has been preparing for the coming three-Test series beginning July 8.

Grave assured that Simmons received permission from the Chief Medical Officers of Cricket West Indies and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

“Yes, he left to go to his father-in-law's funeral on Friday and is now going through the re-entry process having had his whole exit and entry approved and managed by the medical teams,” Grave said.

In Simmons’ absence, assistant coaches Roddy Estwick and Rayon Griffith will oversee the Windies four-day, first-class fixture that starts on Monday.

Floyd Reifer will be the batting coach

The West Indies team will be sporting new eye-catching training and playing kits during the Sandals Tour of England 2020 as part of Cricket West Indies’(CWI) new three-year partnership with Castore, CWI’s official team kit and merchandise partner.

West Indies fast bowling great Sir Andy Roberts insists it was a mistake for the team to embark on the current tour of England, without tangible compensation, due to the high risk taken by the players.

The West Indies and England will return to international cricket next month, with a three-Test match series behind closed doors.  With the spread of the coronavirus continuing to be a serious concern in the UK, for safety reasons, the players and everyone associated with the series will be kept in what has been described as a biosecure bubble for seven weeks.

With the United Kingdom (UK) being one of the hardest-hit countries by the virus and some 41,128 deaths already reported, there will doubtlessly be some element of risk in travelling for the tour.  As such, West Indies players were given the option of not accepting the invitation, with Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer and Keemo Paul all deciding to opt-out due to safety concerns.  As is customary, it is the host team that will be entitled to the revenue from the series, with the decision by the West Indies expected to save the England and Wales Cricket Board £120million in reimbursements to Sky Sports.

Due to the exceptional nature of the circumstances, Roberts believes the Caribbean team should have secured better compensation.

“I don’t have a problem with them negotiating to go to England, but what I have a problem with is talk that the West Indies will not benefit from the tour financially,” Roberts told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“I think that is a mistake because the chances that we are going to take, I don’t think you have many more countries that would be willing to take such a chance,” he added.

“If they are to benefit financially then I don’t have a problem, but if they are not going to benefit from it, then I have a problem, why take the risk and sacrifice the guys?”

Cricket West Indies (CWI) has joined the growing list of sporting associations to voice support for ongoing protests in the United States and the overarching call for an end to racial inequality and injustice.

Both peaceful and violent protests have rocked the United States for the last eight days as many across the nation continue to remonstrate about the circumstances that led to the death of George Floyd an unarmed African American man.

Derek Chauvin, a Minneapolis cop, was filmed with his knee on the neck of the restrained and pleading Floyd who later went unconscious and was reported dead at the hospital.  Several athletes, including West Indies cricket stars Darren Sammy and Chris Gayle, have joined those voices demanding justice and the organisation threw their support behind the pair and the movement.

   “We join our cricketers, other cricket stakeholders, and all sportsmen, sportswomen, and sports administrators in speaking out against all forms of racism and inequality.  We stand alongside all who are peacefully protesting and championing this cause,” the release read.

The West Indies, like the United States, has deep-rooted connections to slavery and colonialism.  A part of the success of early West Indies cricket teams, who became the sport’s dominant force, was built on the fierce desire to prove themselves equal to colonizing powers and those who thought of themselves as racially superior.

“The people of the West Indies have fought many battles of our own on and off the field.  We have been blessed to witness the prowess, determination, and leadership of our cricketing heroes who united the Caribbean and brought great success and pride to our people,” the release continued.

“Our cricketing heroes helped in large measure to pave the way for cricket and our West Indian societies to thrive at home, and generated enjoyment and dignity for the West Indian diaspora abroad while they faced their own experiences of inequality and injustice in their adopted home.”

Cricket West Indies has agreed in principle to send a West Indies team to England for a three-Test series in July. The decision was arrived at during a meeting of the board on Thursday.

The decision comes only after CWI medical and cricket-related representatives and advisors have been involved in detailed discussions with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), and their own medical and public health advisers over the past few weeks.

These discussions involved the local and international logistics and protocols, which are already being put in place to minimize risk and optimize the health and safety of all concerned.  CWI has also received and reviewed detailed plans for players and staff to be kept in a bio-secure environment for the duration of the tour, with all matches being played “behind closed doors”.

The CWI will now be awaiting the England Cricket Board who is to get approval from the UK Government sometime over the next few days.

CWI’s management is also now in the process of seeking to put all of the approvals and logistics in place within the Caribbean, including seeking permission from the various governments to facilitate the movement of players and support staff, using private charter planes and conducting medical screenings and individual COVID-19 testing for all members of the touring party.

“I would like to thank the CWI management, the Medical Advisory Committee, and the Financial Strategic Advisory Committee for their detailed and timely presentations given to the Board meeting,” said CWI President Ricky Skerritt.

“In addition to our approval in principle of the proposed Test Tour of England, we made some significant financial management decisions that will be announced and implemented in due course.  The great detail to which the Board engaged in these matters is testimony to their urgency and importance, but it meant that we had to defer a few agenda items until next Wednesday (June 3), when we have scheduled to reconvene”.

Most of Thursday’s lengthy meeting focused on discussing the initial short-term recommendations from the Financial Strategy Advisory Committee (FSAC), a special purpose committee that was put in place by CWI President Ricky Skerritt on April 2, 2020.

The committee comprised a joint membership of Directors and Executive Management, all with significant financial management expertise, chaired by JCA President, Wilford “Billy” Heaven.

The Board agreed to the committee’s business continuity plan of action, for how CWI would have to operate in order to survive its cash flow crisis, in the context of the debilitating economic uncertainties of the global pandemic COVID-19.

 

Cricket West Indies offered condolences to the family and friends of Cleon Smith, head coach of the Jamaica Women’s cricket team. He passed away on Thursday.

Smith played a crucial role in the development of several players on the island, including Stafanie Taylor, the West Indies women’s captain.

He is credited with the success of the Jamaica team in the CWI Women’s tournaments where they won several titles in the last decade. He also coached the St Ann’s parish team several clubs and in schools. Smith was a regular co-ordinator of the Kiddy Cricket programme, which was part of the CWI age-group and junior development pathway.

CWI’s Director of Cricket Jimmy Adams paid tribute to Smith.

“It is with a deep sense of loss that all of us at CWI heard of the passing of Cleon Smith. He has been an integral part of the Jamaica cricketing landscape serving as head coach of the country’s women’s national programme for over ten years,” Adams said.

“Cleon dedicated his life to coaching the game at community, school and regional levels and the game will be left that much poorer by his passing. All of us at CWI wish to convey our deepest condolences to Cleon’s family as we share their grief during this period of mourning

Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines Dr Ralph Gonsalves has given the proposed West Indies tour of England in July his blessing once Cricket West Indies can establish that the players representing the region will be safe.

A decision on whether the West Indies will go ahead with their three-Test tour of England could be made by Thursday this week, CWI CEO Johnny Grave has said.

Tony Astaphan SC, attorney-at-law for former Cricket West Indies (CWI) president Dave Cameron, has taken exception to the appearance of what he termed a diminished sense of ‘collective responsibility’, considering some of the accusations levelled against his client in the recent audit report.

The financial report, which singled out Cameron for criticism on several occasions, was commissioned by the current CWI board and conducted by independent auditors Pannell Kerr Foster (PKF).  Among other things, it raised concerns regarding an inadequate accounting system that enabled financial irregularities to go unreported.

Cameron’s legal team has already requested a copy of the contentious document, which has already been leaked, but Astaphan has also been quick to point out that the structure of the CWI remains a board of directors and all decisions were taken and approved at that level.

“If the auditor is in fact making so-called findings on matters that were dealt with by the board and they are so concerned about irregularities and abuses; the directors, including the present ones, from top to bottom, are going to have to come forward and explain their votes to the region and the shareholders,” Astaphan said on the Mason and Guest radio show.

“You can’t just decide to throw one man overboard and say well there goes Cameron swimming down the lagoon again.  Collective responsibility is very important,” he added.

The lawyer strongly rejected the notion that the board members were bullied into voting by the former president, as has been previously suggested.

“It was said that the directors were subservient, subservient, grown men, grown independent men, successful businessmen, politicians and all were subservient to Cameron, that is why they went along with the votes.  As a Caribbean man I would consider that to be contemptuous of my position on the board.”

“There is an implication that there was this and that but everyone went along with Dave Cameron like the pied piper and the rats into the pond.”

Former president of Cricket West Indies (CWI) Dave Cameron has threatened legal action against the regional governing body unless it hands over a copy of an audit report critical of his period in office.

The audit, requested by Cameron's successor and conducted by external and independent auditors Pannell Kerr Foster (PKF) raised concerns about an inadequate accounting system that enabled abuses to go unreported and posed a threat to "the board's long-term sustainability."

The audit report singled out Cameron for criticism several times.  The Jamaican was president of CWI (previously WICB) from March 2013 until March 2019. Cameron was defeated during a re-election attempt by current president, Ricky Skerritt.

Cameron said he first became aware of the report when contacted for comment by ESPNcricinfo in April.

The businessman is demanding that he is provided with a copy of the audit report from CWI within 48 hours in order to "respond fully" to the "allegations made by PKF."

A letter from Cameron's attorneys stated "our client maintains that he has serious concerns about the credibility of this report, which involved the Chairman of the Audit and Risk Committee selected and/or appointed by the President or Board.

"In the circumstances, and having regard to the basic principles of fairness and the right of our client to protect his reputation, our client demands, without prejudice to any rights he may now have, a full copy of this report within 48 hours, and the right to respond fully to all of the questions, comments or allegations made by PKF, and statements made by Mr Holding and the President within 21 days.

"Should CWI whether by way of the Board or management or otherwise seek in the meantime to publish the report, or refuse to meet our client's demands for a copy of the report and time to respond, our client will have no alternative but to seek the appropriate orders and remedies from the High Court."

It has been reported that the letter from Cameron's attorneys was received on Monday.

Extracts from the audit report appeared in publications across the region.

West Indies fast-bowling legend and cricket commentator Michael Holding alluded to a couple of sections - though he has not mentioned Cameron. 

Ricky Skerritt, the current CWI president, acknowledged in a media statement that the report "uncovered some illustrations of questionable executive standards and practices." 

Cameron's attorneys further stated that "the President's statement and especially the use of the word "uncovered" carries the imputation that PKF uncovered previously hidden and unknown material, which justified or warranted the making of serious questions, comments or allegations directed at or against our client as the President of CWI.

"There is no question that Mr Holding believed that the contents of one part of this PKF report raised the real prospect that the offence of money-laundering either occurred, or may have occurred, and/or exposed CWI to the risk of involvement in money-laundering. At all material times, our client was the President of CWI. These allegations have now gone viral throughout the region and elsewhere.

"As indicated above, our client has not seen the report, nor has he been given any opportunity to respond to it, either by PKF or CWI. In fact, at no time did PKF seek to ascertain any fact or comment from him. However, the report or parts thereof were made known to ESPNCricinfo and Mr Holding."

Cricket West Indies has begun for a permanent head coach for the West Indies Women. That person will replace interim head coach Gus Logie who has been in charge of the women’s team since October 2019.

The West Indies tour of England this summer is becoming increasingly likely following positive discussions between the medical team and staff of the English Cricket Board and the CWI on Monday.

Both boards have been in discussions since the start of the month intent on charting a pathway to the West Indies travelling to England for three Tests in July.

Initially scheduled for June, the tour was been postponed because of fears over player safety caused by the spread of the Coronavirus COVID-19.

However, late last week, CWI notified 30 players that they should be prepared to travel and play in England in July if it is decided that the tour would go ahead. It was also revealed that further discussions were set to take place on Monday.

CWI CEO Johnny Grave confirmed to Sportsmax.TV Tuesday that those Monday talks went well.

“The ECB is confident that they can deliver a safe plan for bio-secure behind closed doors cricket that will meet the UK Government guidelines and will therefore likely secure their board's approval,” Grave told Sportsmax.TV today.

“We will have further meetings and discussions this week with the ECB as we try and plan for the Test Tour taking place this summer in an environment where the number-one priority is the health and safety of all players and staff."

During an interview on Sportsnation Live on Nationwide Radio in Jamaica on Saturday, Grave reiterated that safety was the primary concern of the CWI.

“We would have to be absolutely certain that our players and support staff would be in a safe environment in order for us to play cricket,” he said while explaining the conditions under which the team would travel and play in the UK.

“What it means at this stage is that we would use charter flights to first collect players in the Caribbean and then to make our way across the Atlantic. We wouldn’t be on aircraft with any other passengers. There would be private charters for our players and team.

“Then once we land in the UK we would undergo a two-week quarantine period, which would be at a cricket facility, so the players would have the opportunity to play and train. They would be the only ones in that secure environment.”

Grave said the hotel staff, ground staff and other personnel would be tested regularly and would have to remain on-site for the duration. “Once they enter that bio-secure environment no one would be allowed to come or go, so they’d be in lockdown within a cricket venue with a hotel on-site,” he said.

According to Grave, the CWI medical and support staff have determined that the Windies would need at least four weeks to get the players into the condition that they need to be to face England in the Test matches.

 

Leeward Islands captain Kieran Powell has been left disappointed by his non-selection to the provisional 29-man squad for the West Indies tour of England which looks set to go ahead this summer.

Cricket West Indies announced the squad recently in lieu of agreements with the England and Wales Cricket Board about a tour that was scheduled for June but has now been postponed amid plans to make it safe despite the worldwide spread of COVID-19.

The squad had seen the return of pacer Shannon Gabriel, spinner Veerasammy Permaul and middle-order batsman Jermaine Blackwood.

There were also some new faces to the squad like Preston McSween, Paul Palmer, Shane Mosely and Keon Harding.

Powell, who last represented the West Indies on the 2018 tour of Bangladesh, was a notable absentee.

Since Powell’s exclusion from the West Indies set-up, he has scored fairly heavily in regional cricket, a fact that has elicited surprise at his non-selection.

“I haven’t really been as productive as I would like in the four-day format but I still managed to stand out above everyone else who played in the tournament so it’s disheartening for myself to learn that I hadn’t been selected based on the volume of runs I scored,” said Powell.

Despite leading the Caribbean in the Regional Super50 competition with 524 runs last year, Powell was not selected for series against India, Ireland and Sri Lanka.

There had been reports that Powell should have been a replacement for Evin Lewis in the Sri Lanka series. Lewis had failed a fitness test but the reports are suggesting Powell also failed that test.

“I don’t mind not being selected. This is part and parcel of being in West Indies cricket. It has been here long before me and I’m pretty sure it will be long after but communication is the most important thing,” Powell said regarding the failure of the fitness test.

According to Powell, he is yet to hear from CWI what aspects of the test he failed and what he needed to work on.

“Obviously there are more factors to it, which is what I am trying to ascertain. What are those standards, so I can work on whatever I need to work on so I can get my international career back off the ground?” he said.

While not calling names or suggesting this administration inclusive of coaches and board has anything more than the best interest of cricket at heart, Powell did point out that there was a certain stigma that has made his sojourn in West Indies cricket more difficult.

“I remember a coach of the West Indies team telling me that I don’t need to play for the West Indies team because I was financially good and that I should leave it for people who aren’t financially good and I didn’t understand,” said Powell.

According to the elegant left-hander, his finances should not be used to count against him playing for the region.

“No one would look at a LeBron James or a Cristiano Ronaldo, and so many others, that based on all the investments they have that they don’t need to play anymore. Obviously, we know the history of athletes going bankrupt,” he said.

Chief of selectors, Roger Harper, asked about the exclusion of Kieron Pollard, said the issue was one based completely on cricket and that there was no personal feeling toward Powell one way or the other.

“I don’t know of any problem with Powell. When we picked our squad, we picked what we thought was the best squad for those conditions,” said Harper.

The West Indies tour of England will see them fight to retain the Wisden Trophy they took from England last year.

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