Reifer, who was briefly captain of West Indies in 2009, has been appointed to the role in an interim capacity following a review of West Indies’ coaching and selection policies led by newly-elected Cricket West Indies (CWI) president, Ricky Skerritt.
The entire West Indies selection panel has also been dismissed. Courtney Browne, who had been a selector since 2013 and head selector since 2016, has been sacked with Robert Haynes, who played eight ODIs for West Indies between 1989 and 1991, appointed as interim head selector in his place.
“We have found it necessary to immediately adjust our selection policy to become more open, inclusive, and player-centric,” Skerritt said. “I am therefore pleased to confirm that we have terminated the old embedded selection policy which secretly, but actively, victimized some players and banished them from selection consideration.”
While Pybus was only appointed to the role of interim head coach in January and was at the helm when West Indies recently defeated England in a Test series, his dismissal is no surprise. He had ruffled many feathers during his time as West Indies’ director of cricket – University of West Indies vice-chancellor Sir Hilary Beckles recently described Pybus’ decision to shut down the West Indies’ high-performance centre in Barbados as “deeply troubling” and “an act of vandalism” – and was seen as closely aligned to former CWI president, Dave Cameron.
Indeed, it is understood that despite Jimmy Adams, West Indies’ director of cricket, not including Pybus’ name among a not so shortlist of 11 suitable candidates for the interim position in December, Cameron decided to appoint him anyway.
Pybus had also been party to the decision to consider for selection only those players who made themselves available for selection in the Caribbean’s regional tournaments. As a result, many of the West Indies’ best T20 players were squeezed out of selection contention. It is possible his departure may encourage one or two more players who have previously announced their international retirement to reconsider.
Lockhart Sebastien, Travis Dowlin and Eldine Baptiste are the other selectors to be dismissed. Adams and Reifer will assist Haynes with team selection for now. The team captain, Jason Holder, will also be involved in selection of the World Cup squad. Pybus will return to the role of High Performance Director.
“Robert Haynes will be in place for three months or until the selection system review is completed,” Adams said. “Following this, full-time two-year appointments will be made. The Head Coach will also have selector status to ensure he or she has meaningful input into the selection process which is such a big factor for team success.”
Reifer has enjoyed a previous stint of as interim head coach during which West Indies won a T20 series in Bangladesh. He has also coached the West Indies A side, including to victory over England, and the Combined Campuses and Colleges side to victory in the regional 50 over tournament in 2018.
Skerritt explained that his appointment was reflective of the board’s new “West Indian first policy” designed to promote and encourage regional talent whenever possible.
“Floyd Reifer had been identified as the outstanding emerging local coach,” Skerritt said. “Our landmark decision to immediately introduce a well suited young West Indian professional as our men’s team coach is therefore a clear indicator of the seriousness of our West Indian first policy and represents our commitment to celebrate the best of what it means to be West Indian. This decision also underscores the need for fresh thinking, and an even more urgent need to embrace the new inclusive selection policy.
“We believe very strongly in localising the expertise that we put behind our teams and we believe in bringing in non-Caribbean expertise only where it is not available across the region. We want to be sure that the team does well at all times with the possible resources but we also have to make sure that they have a Caribbean support team around them.
“Our performance record overseas under international coaches has been dismal at best. All of our victories in ICC tournaments have been with the help of local coaches. That is also why we have decided to give the opportunity to a young but seasoned professional, who lives among us, and who has dedicated his life to developing our young people and teaching them our cricket culture.
“The changes we have triggered this week are more than a change in personnel or a shake-up in the ranks. This is a calculated strategic move designed to reignite the passion for a culture, where our cricket is being put back where it belongs: at the very centre.”
West Indies depart for Ireland in less than three weeks for a tri-series ODI tournament also involving Bangladesh. (ESPNCricinfo)