Dire CWI finances stalls TTCB head coach search

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – The Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board has put on pause its interview process for a head coach, amidst fears Cricket West Indies’ funding for the Professional Cricket League could fall through.

TTCB president Azim Bassarath, also a CWI director, said serious concerns had been raised about the regional governing body’s finances at a meeting two weeks ago.

And following recent comments from president Ricky Skerritt that the organisation’s body finances were “in ICU”, it was even more imperative the TTCB proceeded with caution in filling the vacant high level post.

Bassarath said the TTCB was hoping for assurances from CWI at a quarterly board meeting scheduled for later this month.

“We at the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board do not want to put ourselves in a position where if the funding for the PCL cannot come forward, [that we cannot pay the head coach], because the Cricket West Indies funding [is uncertain] as you may have seen [from media reports] where the president has said that the finances are in ICU,” Bassarath told i95FM Radio here.

“We’re very concerned about that because the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board at this stage cannot pay a coach the quantum of money that is allocated for in the PCL. So we want to hold back on that process but be able to go through putting things in place …”

He continued: “Once that meeting is completed and we get some assurance that the franchise cricket and the funding for that cricket will continue as usual, then we will proceed apace to make sure the coaches are appointed as quickly as possible.

“We will not be able to go into the interview because of course the [applicants] will want to find out about remuneration and if [CWI] cannot give us any word as yet, we will not be able to answer.

“We want to go prepared going into the interview process to make sure that we have all the answers for the coaches when the interview is taking place.”

Skerritt said recently that the COVID-19 pandemic which had forced the cessation of cricket globally, had plunged CWI’s “already poor financial state into ICU”.

And he conceded that while the board has been engaging in “cost-saving” all along, the urgency of the situation now required “cost-cutting”.

The vacant position of Red Force head coach has been wide-publicised and has attracted applications from as far as Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and South Africa.

Incumbent Mervyn Dillon, a former T&T and West Indies fast bowler, led Red Force to a second place finish in the domestic first class championship – their highest ever position since the start of the professional era.

Bassarath said the uncertainty in CWI’s finances would almost certainly lead to a disruption in the Red Force programme.

“We won’t be able to go much longer without appointing a coach. The new PCL contracts start on July 1 and that’s why we want to make sure we will have the funding to pay the coach,” Bassarath pointed out.

“It doesn’t make any sense we hire a coach and don’t have the money to pay him – we have to be very careful with what we’re doing at the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board. We don’t want to put ourselves in a position where we cannot pay the coach …

“We must sign a two or three-year contract with the coach when he is appointed.”

Skerritt said recently that the upcoming meeting would have finance as its sole agenda item as CWI tries to stay afloat in the turbulent time triggered by the pandemic.

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