A THORNY ISSUE: Sir Curtly hard done by
IT’S RATHER UNUSUAL to lose your job after being part of a successful team. So I can understand how Sir Curtly Ambrose feels about being relieved of his duties as West Indies bowling consultant.
It becomes an even harder pill to swallow when, according to the fast bowling legend, he was told by head coach Phil Simmons he had done a “fantastic job” with the team.
If he was so fantastic, I can’t see why he was fired, so Simmons’ attempt at diplomacy in telling one of his staff his services were no longer required failed miserably.
Even so, it may have taken plenty of courage to deliver such bad news so soon after the team had won the World Cup.
Sir Curtly could rightfully claim some of the credit for the team’s performance in terms of collective responsibility. His dismissal again brought to the fore the bittersweetness in winning the T20 World Cup.
However, it seems to me that it was his overall performance in working with the bowlers that came under the microscope and he must have failed that examination in some form or fashion. After all, he did say in his own words that Simmons said he was looking for a coach that was more “technical”.
The “technical” language in this context would be above this layman but my concern would be whether the head coach had expressed any previous dissatisfaction with Sir Curtly’s performance and drew it to his attention.
Call for dialogue
Normal industrial relations practice calls for such dialogue so that the employee would know what is required and what the expectations are going forward to improve job performance.
If this procedure was followed to the letter, I don’t see why the Antigua legend would have anything to complain about, but clearly he appeared to be shocked that he was no longer part of the coaching staff.
Given the culture of West Indies cricket, where some of the human relations procedures are questionable, the dismissal of Sir Curtly can be considered par for the course, but it doesn’t make it right, particularly if he did a “fantastic job” with the team and got along well with the unit.
In Bajan parlance, there might be more in the mortar than the pestle and there could be underlying factors which helped cause his demise. Those of us watching from the sidelines may never know all of the reasons, but something about this story doesn’t seem right. Some of the pieces are missing from the jigsaw.
Sir Curtly has had his critics over the years for being a hard taskmaster and for not being a great communicator. So while he may have been very enthusiastic to motivate the players under his watch to be the best they could be, did he apply the appropriate methods in getting his point over to the bowlers?
Lest we forget, the fast bowling icon was part of a successful era in West Indies cricket. Is it possible he could have overreacted at times about what he may have considered falling standards among the team as a whole, particularly in the longer versions of the game?
And if so, did this approach become counterproductive to what he wanted to achieve for the team? Sometimes the best of intentions can turn out badly, depending on how we go about implementing things or how it is perceived and accepted by those we want the best for.
Sir Curtly is a very proud individual and I won’t hold it against him if he pushed the players to represent to the best of their abilities the legacy he had helped to create not so long ago.
It could be, also, hat his expectations were too high because of his own greatness and prominence, and he could have been mistaken in his belief that it was easy for others to replicate what he did with the ball.
It must have been very challenging for him to even consider lowering or adjusting his expectations, but had he done so, he would have been guilty of contributing to poor work ethics and would definitely have every right to be fired.
But this, after all, is a man who was told he did a “fantastic job” with the players.
Could Sir Curtly have been a victim of the wider politics of West Indies cricket? Did he say something concerning the board that didn’t sit well with its members? Wasn’t he politically correct at some stage?
If not quite a mystery, I think given the West Indian penchant for double speech instead of forthrightness, this development will end up in the more questions than answer file.
Notwithstanding all of the above, I want to wish Roddy Estwick all the best as he moves into Sir Curtly’s former role.
• Andi Thornhill is a veteran sports journalist.