Barath...expected to go on to great things.
Bravo...has far to go.
is a new president of the West Indies Cricket Board at a
time when the shortcomings of the players and of the administrations
preparation of those players - from the cradle to the Test
team - are glaringly apparent.
Now, there is the establishment of the long awaited Cricket
Academy, scheduled to be operational by October. This should
enable the experts at the academy to work on the mental
and physical qualities of the players, so that they may
be as tough and consistent as the best in the world and
that they may play up to the level of their undoubted natural
This is an area that has not been given the attention it
deserves. The benefit of that attention will not be immediately
apparent as the qualities that are to be built are psychological.
The habit formation and needed re-enforcing regularly before
they are established as good habits, takes time.
The performance of the players in the just concluded Under-19
competition showed a lack of consistency that must be as
distressing to the players themselves as to the coach and
In the T&T team there were two young players, Adrian
Barath and Darren Bravo who were expected to be way above
the quality of the average 19 year old players. They were
disappointing to put it mildly. On three or four occasions
they got good starts but failed to convert them to large
or match winning efforts.
On pitches that were said to be batsman friendly, our bowlers
were less than effective. T&T had the mortification
of seeing an opposing number nine batsman score 90 runs
against us just when it seemed that the team had broken
The coach specifically mentioned the lack of penetration
of the bowlers, but unless bowlers have a plan and can bowl
to that plan, they will be less than effective. To work
to a plan the bowler must be able to bowl to a field set
to a particular attack, dependent on good length and good
line. That is a problem that is endemic and must be corrected
or the players will go into the Test team and be like those
Bowling a consistent good line and length requires constant
practise and concentration. There are several well qualified
and experienced men in the West Indies who could help the
many eager young players and could impress on them there
is no short cut and that steady and consistent work is required.
The coach complained that the youngsters were playing too
much cricket. At that age, one would have thought that there
was no such thing as too much cricket. That tends to indicate
that the physical and mental levels of fitness are less
that desired, especially at the age when those players are
on the verge of stepping into the international arena, where
Test and ODI cricket demand high levels of fitness and stamina
if they are to reach the heights.
Part of the problem is the fact that most of the players
are amateurs and can not be regularly kept to a level of
fitness and preparedness that professionals in the other
countries regard as absolutely essential.
In addition, the level of cricket competition is comparatively
lower than that which keeps the other major playing countries
at a higher pitch of readiness and competence than that
which is the benchmark of the West Indies amateurs.
For many years there has been talk but little else about
a professional league in the Caribbean. The money needed
for that is astronomical for any one territory but if all
the Caribbean territories combine, there can be a foundation
for a professional league, which would furnishes splendid
contracts to the players.
In addition to providing professional cricketers with attractive
contracts, the competition for places and to keep those
places, would help develop the edge and the professional
toughness necessary, if West Indies cricket is to reclaim
its honoured place among the cricketing fraternity.
How many of the current crop of Test and potential Test
players know anything about the glorious history of West
Indies cricket, I wonder? Do they know what cricket has
done for the native West Indians and the vehicle for social
and economic mobility it has been?
Do any of our young representatives know anything about
the careers of Headley, Constantine, Martindale, the Grants,
Stollmeyers, Alf Valentine, Sonny Ramadhin, Allan Rae? Do
they care and does anybody ever try to fill them with zeal
and pride with instruction on these lines? That is one of
the areas that may be tackled by the Academy.
Cricket has been too important to the development of the
West Indies and has brought such respect and admiration
to the region for it to be allowed to atrophy through lack
of attention to the basics which were a matter of course
less than a generation ago.
President Hunte may be the man to marshall his troops, to
attract the attention and collaboration of corporate Caribbean
for the long walk back to greatness.