St. John's: The West Indies parted ways with coach Ottis Gibson, just a day ahead of a home one-day series against Bangladesh.
The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) said the two sides "mutually agreed to terminate their association" with team manager Richie Richardson stepping in as interim coach. No reason was given for the departure of Gibson, who had been in charge since 2010 and led the West Indies to the World Twenty20 title in 2012.
However, West Indies are currently eighth in the Test rankings, the lowest among the established nations, eighth in the one-day rankings and seventh in the Twenty20 rankings.
The Bangladesh series comes as the West Indies build up to the one-day World Cup early next year. Ex-captain Clive Lloyd was named head of a new-look selection panel earlier this month.
"On behalf of the Board and West Indies cricket as a whole we express our gratitude to Ottis for his work," WICB chief executive officer Michael Muirhead said in a statement. The WICB thanked Gibson for his "unwavering committment and professionalism" in his role as head coach, a position he occupied for four years and for which he had signed a contract extension only last year that would have taken him to 2016.
Confirmation that the former fast-medium bowler will not be involved in the series against Bangladesh came less than 12 hours before the opening one-day international of the three-match contest at the Queen's Park Stadium in Grenada on Wednesday. The teams will also play a lone T20 International followed by two Tests. The highlight of Gibson's time in charge was the team's triumph at the World T20 in Sri Lanka in 2012.
Their defence of the title last March in Bangladesh ended in defeat to eventual champions Sri Lanka at the semi-final stage. Team manager Richardson, the former West Indies captain and middle-order batsman, will take over the coaching responsibilities for the Bangladesh series while a full-time replacement is confirmed.
It is believed that Mickey Arthur, the former South Africa and Australia head coach, is favourite for the job. Arthur, a South African, coached the Jamaica Tallawahs during the second season of the Caribbean Premier League T20 franchise tournament which ended last Saturday in St Kitts. Speculation over Gibson's status ignited on Monday when he was absent from the West Indies team's training session, and again on Tuesday.
Despite having the WICB's support in the midst of disputes with prominent players like Chris Gayle, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan early in his tenure as head coach, the Barbadian seems to have fallen out of favour in the aftermath of series losses to India and New Zealand (home and away).
With the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand now less than six months away, the WICB faces the challenge of filling the void full-time in the hope that the squad can come together in time to be a force to reckon with at that tournament while also seeking to be competitive in what are expected to be difficult assignments in India and South Africa following the matches against Bangladesh.