Wednesday 13th February, 2008


Windies players lack professionalism

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The South African tour has ended and none of us, even none of the international cricket community, has been surprised by the results.

After a shock in Zimbabwe, when West Indies lost the first ODI, the team bounced back and won the rest of the series with authority. The first worry reared its head when Chris Gale broke down and had to miss much of the tour because of a torn hamstring. He would again have to withdraw from the end of the South African series. Even the super fit, athletic Bravo suffered muscle strain during the tour and one hopes that the relevant authority has noted that and would pay more attention to the fitness of players and assuring that all reasonable steps are taken to ensure that West Indies cricketers remain as fit as possible and well conditioned, so as to minimise the possibility of muscular distress.

The end of this series shows, with little room for disagreement, that the players in the team now, lack many of the qualities that make professionals in any field and in this particular circumstance, that make professional cricketers.

Several of them have had long runs and have failed, not only to be of the required standard but shown no effort to improve their performance. They look good when they play a particular spectacular stroke but seem to have no clue about when or if to play it and end with disappointingly short innings. The bowlers seem to think that bowling as fast as possible will get wickets and do not seem to realise that a fast full toss to half volley gets to the boundary really fast. Taking the trouble to learn control is a pain.

Worst of all, so many of the players regularly drop sitters and misfield things that one would be disappointed if schoolboys perform as they do. Yet they remain in the team and again, show no improvement.

There are players in the team who try hard and give one hundred percent effort but they are infected by the less than whole hearted effort of their teammates and their performance suffers as a result.

Brian Lara had played some fantastic innings graced with some glorious strokes and most people only see that he has real talent and ability. Let us agree that he has talent but there are several others who have talent.

What most people do not see, is the way Lara has developed the talent so that it grew and blossomed into the effortless, graceful show piece that is so easy to recognise. In his early days, Lara practiced with purpose and determination. He developed his defense, his shot production and practiced at each element until he got it down to his satisfaction. The next thing was to recognise what he could do and when he should do it. His shot selection was as near perfect as one could wish.

The hours of intense concentrated effort is never seen when he dances down the pitch to hit somebody for one of those seemingly effortless sixes. But how many players would go to the nets if they got out at 142 in blazing hot sun to get some bowlers to help him correct a shot that had just led to his dismissal. That was Lara, the professional, the perfectionist. He demonstrated the old saying that genius is ten percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration.

Do any of our young players follow his example? Would they listen if he spoke to them about it?

All the current batsmen can bat better than Chanders. But they can not score more runs than he does. They are seduced by the show and not the substance. Chanderpaul is an example of a man playing within his limitations. He knows what he can do and what he can not. He does not attempt the latter. Unlike most of his teammates, he does not get out. You have to get him out. And that is no easy matter.

In addition, he does not like to lose. He puts his head down and fights for every run, even if he does not look as flashy as some of his team mates who get out for less than he does.

West Indies has been losing in the most disheartening manner with the current lot who have been trained in a manner that has not been successful. They have been allowed to grow without the hands on control and assistance of people who have been successful and who know how to achieve the best results.

It is long past time for change.

West Indies cricket board must consult with Clive Lloyd, Viv Richards, Dennis Waight, Dr Rudi Webster, if they are available. If they are not, there are others, sport psychologists who can be of inestimable value to our players mentality, trainers and nutritionists who can bring our young men to the best physical condition to be able to take the pressures and strain of international competition.

While we took for granted the success of the fabulous teams of the late 1970’s to 90’s, the Australians in particular, even the South Africans, then still hamstrung with their Apartheid, studied our methods and applying the modern scientific aids at their disposal, employing several of our cricketers as coaches and even as players in their competition, they improved on that with which we then led the world.

We got rid of Waight and Webster. Suddenly were not the fittest but the most tired and softest of the top teams - physically and mentally. The champions left, as age took them out of the fray. We had prepared no successors and we are now where we are the laughing stock of the fraternity.

There is no magic potion that will turn the Ugly Ducklings into Swans. West Indies Cricket Board must make tough decisions. Competent people are needed to train our relatively unschooled players, people who understand the relationship between good physical condition, nutrition, psychology and performance in any sphere of activity, especially in sport. The goal is to have a team of men who are proud and willing to be the ambassadors and the flag bearers for these islands whose politicians can not see the power of the sport to unite and promote us in the best possible light.

‘The end of this series shows, with little room for disagreement, that the players in the team now, lack many of the qualities that make professionals in any field and in this particular circumstance, that make professional cricketers.

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