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Gibson, Pybus to plot West Indies way forward
The future of the West Indies Test team will be mapped out early next year with the coach Ottis Gibson and the new director of cricket Richard Pybus set to meet to discuss how to respond to the recent slump in results. Four of West Indies’ last five Tests have been heavy defeats and without rain in Dunedin it would have been five losses on in a row, undoing the strides made over the previous year where the side had strung together six straight Test victories. Their next Test assignment is not until May when they host New Zealand in a return series, but although Gibson wants to use the gap to make a considered judgement on his team, it seems inconceivable that significant changes won’t take place. Pybus only joined the WICB in late October, shortly before West Indies went to India, so there has been limited opportunity for him to work with Gibson. “We’ve had some discussions already about where we are and my thoughts on what we need to do to move forward,” Gibson said. “There’s a meeting pencilled in for us when we get back, including the selectors, to try and plot the way forward. We have five months before the next Test series which gives us some time.”
West Indies were hampered in New Zealand by the absence of Kemar Roach, due to a shoulder injury, and Chris Gayle, but the discussions between Gibson and Pybus will also need to focus on the status of players such as Ravi Rampaul and Fidel Edwards, who have doubts over their viability for Test cricket, and whether to recall other experienced figures such as Ramnaresh Sarwan and Dwayne Bravo. In the aftermath of the 2-0 loss against New Zealand, which was sealed by a collapse for 103 in the second innings in Hamilton where all 10 wickets fell in a session, Darren Sammy spoke about careers being on the line but Gibson said there will be no hasty decisions. “When you’ve just lost a series, and the way we’ve lost, emotions run high and people start talking about careers being on the line and it’s a bit premature,” he said. “We can get home, let the dust settle and assess where we are. We can come up with a plan, but also decide who the right personnel are.” He did, though, concede that patience was wearing thin especially when it came to the batting performances. “Batting collapses happen. In our team they happen too often. It’s a sickening feeling when it happens to your team.”
In the short term Gibson has the limited-overs leg of the New Zealand tour to focus on, which brings with it a change of captain - Dwayne Bravo replaces Sammy for the ODIs, but not the T20s—and Gibson hopes for a fresh approach. “Dwayne brings his own energies,” he said. “Sometimes what is going on in the Tests can drain the players, it can have a drain on the captain as well. Having a new figure head in the one-dayers, and some new players, means we aren’t taking too much baggage into the series.” There is also the chance that Gayle will be available for the two Twenty20s that round off the tour next month. Gayle picked up a hamstring injury during the one-day series in India and was ruled to have not recovered in time for the 50-overs segment of this trip. He is currently in Sydney, believed to be as part of his rehabilitation programme, and Gibson said the main target for him was the World Twenty20 defence in Bangladesh. “We’re in communication with him and the people he’s working with in Australia,” Gibson said. “He’s still injured so would be an unnecessary risk to fast track him with what lies ahead. The World T20 is coming up - a format where he is king. He should be available for the two T20s.”