'We need to do things differently'
Sun, Jul 6, '08
by MICHELLE McDONALD in St Kitts
At the end of Sunday's comprehensive victory by Australia, resulting in them leaving the Caribbean with a clean sweep, West Indies Coach John Dyson spent a considerable amount of time answering questions in the post match press conference.
Gathered was a small group of both West Indian and Australian journalists. Though small in numbers, some important questions were asked, and the coach was very generous in his responses. Normally, the media would bring you snippets of what was said. Since we need to do things differently, CaribbeanCricket.com has decided that the public needs to hear the very important information Coach Dyson shared.
What are you going to try and do, to persuade the powers that be to do something significant that is going to lead to a better result in our next assignment?
The first thing I'd say about getting to a better result in our next assignment is that thankfully we will now be away from teams ranked #1 and #2. That's a real bonus to get away from the top of the table.
The next thing that we need to do I think, and I've said this to the players tonight, is that we have to embrace the concept that we need to make changes. And what I mean by making changes is that there are some things about our game that we need to actually change, we need to work on.
The first step in getting better on those areas, is to accept that we need to, and hopefully after this series, the players will sit back, reflect on that, and accept that there are things that need changing.
What are some of the things that need changing?
It's each aspect of the game, each department of the game. Since I've been involved with the team from South Africa, I have suggested to the players that there are various simple things that we need to do. I'll give you an example with our bowling, and this applies to all our bowlers.
I think that teams like Australia build pressure by bowling large sets of dot balls and making it very difficult to score. I've been told since South Africa that the West Indian way is not to do that. 'We're aggressive, we try and get people out.' That's fine, but you see the results of that. We have some good days and we have some shockers. So that is a simple thing that I'm talking about. You can do that in each department of the game. It's not just one area of the game.
We have to accept that we need to change our approach to various things. The potential is there. We have some very talented, very talented players with lots of potential, but to compete with teams at the top of the table, there are some changes that they need to accept they need to make to their game.
Some of the things the players can work on individually, but some of the things have to be worked on in a group setting where you bring everybody together. How far ahead of the next assignment would you like to get everybody together?
Our next major assignment is the Champions Trophy. Once we meet in Canada for that series, we will be looking at that series and also the two practice games we get in Pakistan as preparation for the Champions Trophy. So we have got quite a bit of time together as a team to work on the sorts of things that I think we need to work on for the Champions Trophy.But they go away now and one of the problems we have had over the years is that they get strength and conditioning programmes and drills that they must do, but you have no control over whether they do those things or not. Any new systems going to be put in place?
They have been given individually tailored fitness programmes, and rehabilitation programmes for those who have injuries, we will contact each of the regional boards and ask for their assistance to make sure that the programmes are monitored. We have identified the physiotherapists in each of the regions that need to be involved in monitoring the programmes and we'll again call on their assistance to do that.
This is one of the great challenges of this region. One of the challenges that the guys have to accept is that professional sports people take some responsibility for their own preparation. You're not given everything spoon fed.
What are your thoughts of the composition of the team? We've seen some chopping and changing, and people playing with injuries. Is it an indication that the cupboard is empty?
No, the cupboard's not empty. Let's look at the injury situation. When it's your key players that are carrying niggling injuries, you do everything you can to keep them in the pack because you know how important they are. A couple of times throughout this series, we have had to play without our key players but we still try and keep them together in the team because they are very important to us.
When you talk about chopping and changes, I look at the past 10 years of West Indies cricket and I've seen players who have come in for one game and disappeared totally. What we've tried to do throughout this series is keep players if they're not in the middle at that particular time, is keep them in the squad for an extended period of time so they get the feel of being with the squad.
A lot of time, they have no cricket to go back to, so we would prefer to keep them with the squad so at least they're working with the squad and being around cricket and being involved in the preparation for cricket rather than just drifting off and sitting on the beach. But I don't think we've chopped and changed as much as perhaps has been suggested in the media.
Just for the One Day series, and that was a deliberate thing.
You have to accept that in the One Day series, the Selection Panel decided that they wanted to have a look at a few different players. As I've said before, the challenge to some of the players who have been left out, if they thought they were hard done by, is when they get the opportunity again in the regional competitions, to perform so darn well that it forces them to be selected again.
Unfortunately their performances at this level, if you care to go back and look at their statistics, are lacking and that's one of the things that some of them don't accept.
You said that there was some resistance to some of your ideas earlier on. If anything, are you hopeful that a series like this might make them a little bit more accepting?
Well I've said to the players tonight we have now played #2 and #1 and they have shown us that we are not completely at that level. We have flashes of really good things, sometimes flashes of brilliances, but we are not performing consistently enough and doing the things that we need to do consistently enough against opposition like that. When you come down the table and meet the lesser teams, we will perform better. We will have series like Sri Lanka where it will be very hard fought and we may come out on top. But if we are going to move right up that table, we need to do things differently.
Are you then saying that you are not satisfied that the players are taking enough responsibility for their own preparation?
No. I said that professional sports people have to accept that they have to take some responsibility for their own preparation as well. They've been given a programme, they've been given an individual programme. They've been given an individual programme that has then been specifically tailored to their physical needs. We will give them even further the contact person, if they need a physiotherapist and we've done this with players who've been off on injury, a physiotherapist who they need to contact within their region to monitor their injuries and get them back to fitness for playing.
Now if a player then says 'you're not doing enough for me,' short of going there and holding his hand and taking him along, I don't know what else you can do.
Are you hurt by this result?
I'm not happy with losing any games. In the Test series, I think we competed really well and we did have a couple of opportunities to win, and on those occasions, we weren't good enough to take hold of them. But I was heartened by the fact that we competed, that we really did put in and we created those opportunities.
I expected this One Day series to be more closely fought. I thought if everything goes in our favour, and if everything falls into place, we might walk away, might walk away with a 3-2 win. But I was expecting it to be perhaps a 3-2 score line or at worst a 4-1. I did not expect to be beaten 5-0.
That result today was embarrassing. After Friday's match, which was so close, do you think the players were mentally drained by that loss?
I think possibly what affected them really badly this morning, and you've got to hand it to the opposition, is Luke Ronchi came out this morning and played a gem of a 50-over innings. He hit the ball magnificently. Now I don't think we bowled as well to him as we could have, but he can only hit what we give him and he hit them darn well. That, at the start of the day, probably knocked a bit of the stuffing out of us for the rest of the day and it continued on from there.
Mind you, we still did some reasonable things. We fought back after he had made that start, and that was really good. If we hadn't had fought back and he had continued on, who knows what would have happened. But we did fight back, we got a couple of wickets. The fielding wasn't too bad overall, so I was pleased with that side of it. However, we got punished severely on a wicket that was a good wicket. Again, we didn't bat well enough when we had our chance to bat. Mitchell Johnson bowled well. The opposition actually do do some good things out there.
Do you have an analyst attached to the team?
Will each of the players get a CD with their performance?
They constantly get that throughout the series. What we've done is that they now can take their performances away, or we can filter them down to what we think is necessary if they don't want to see their whole performance, but they can take them away on their Ipods or on their computers.
Let's say I bat today and I want to see my innings that night, I can take it away on the Ipod or the computer, or if I haven't got either of those, I can take it away on a CD or DVD to take back to the hotel and watch it. So that's been in place throughout. We started it in South Africa when Richard [Berridge] came on board and I must say Richard has done a terrific job. He's learnt the system, he's adapted to using the system and he's been accessible to the players at all times, so we've encouraged them to actually really get into that.
And coming away from a series if I'm a player, I would know exactly what I need to be working on, what my faults are in my technique and so on.
Sometimes you actually do need, and this is where I will come in, I need to sit with them and say 'this is my assessment. I want you to look at XYZ', and I go back to the computer then and pull down the things that I want to see, and make the movies and show it to them and say 'this is what I'm talking about. These are the sorts of things we want you to work on'.
The great thing about the system as well is that we can now take some of the Australian performances and say 'this is what I'm talking about. Look at what he did here in this sort of situation, look at how they adjusted their batting or bowling according to the conditions in the middle and these are the sorts of things we need to work on'.
You've said that the players have to accept that their approaches to certain things have to change. Previous coaches going back as far as Roger Harper have said there is too much expectation and demand on the West Indies senior team coach to change all of these things only at the international level. Are you saying that that is still true, that there is too much expectation to make all these overnight changes at the international level?
I think you've probably heard me say on numerous occasions, I'm not Merlin the Magician. I can't just put up my fingers and go and everything is done. If you look at that Australian side out there today, they bring in a player – let's look at Luke Ronchi today, if you care to look at his overall cricket CV, you will find that he has played a whole lot of good quality One Day cricket before he gets to there. So the basic skills that are needed out there, he's been learning for a long time.
Unfortunately, we're getting players that have only played a handful of games in some cases that have been playing not a lot of cricket and I've got to say that some of the stuff they're bringing to us, we need to change dramatically. One person or one management team at this level can't change that overnight. We can make changes along the way but it does take time. To say 'we want to be from there to there in two or three months, it is totally unrealistic. Mathematically you can't do it. To change the habits of the players once they get to this team, overnight, it's just not going to happen. They need to start working on things before they get there.
How much time do you think is needed, given what you've seen since you've been here, for the West Indies team to be able to compete with the better teams in world cricket in your estimation?
That is difficult to say, it's like asking me how long is a piece of string. The first step as far as I am concerned, is that the players embrace the concept that we need to change some things about our game. Up until now, I don't think a lot of them have. I've given you this term 'we play the West Indies way, we bowl aggressively, we bat aggressively, we field aggressively.' But when you analyze what all that means, you start to realize hey, every now and then you win doing that, but against the better sides that approach it more clinically, it's not going to happen.
At the end of the day, players really have to take responsibility for their game and if that is not happening, then we are going to continue to see more whitewashes, and the people of the Caribbean are going to continue to be fed up with West Indies cricket.
The players do work hard on their game, they do work hard and if you think two weeks ago, everyone was applauding a re-emerging West Indies team. In the space of two weeks, you don't suddenly go from one extreme to the other. Maybe two weeks ago, this concept of 'we are on the re-emerge' was a little bit ambitious. But things aren't as bad as they might seem. As an example, I was with Sri Lanka and we white washed South Africa in Colombo. Where are they ranked these days? We beat Sri Lanka a couple of months ago over here. Today they've won the Asia Cup. They'll be on their quest to win the next World Cup again.
It would seem that the players perhaps need more competitive situations...actual matches to be able to develop the mental skills necessary to close out a game, as we didn't do on Friday. Any thoughts given to having that before Canada? You see, you could train people in practice and they can throw at the stumps but in the actual environment of a match situation, they miss the stumps. So it seems that we would need to have more playing done, more cricket, and you've said that as well.
Yes, I've said so before. Compared to the Australian system we don't play anywhere near as much cricket. That's something I think the Board is looking at. I don't think they've finalized the four-day programme for next year. I know that the One Day programme, has been finalized and the tournament is going to take place as far as I know at the end of the Champions Trophy, so end of September/early October. So there's a difference there as well with the Australian system. In their system, they don't separate the two series. They play four-day cricket, One Day cricket and T20 cricket concurrently right throughout the six months, but we only have six months down there. The other six months is football season.
Did you speak with Bennett King before you took this job?
No, I didn't speak with Bennett King, but I spoke to David Moore who I've known for a long time.