Wed, Feb 4, '04
Despite the West Indies' perennial failures with bat and ball, there is one aspect of their game that is so far below standard that it would shame even a club cricketer. It is probably the one area of the game most easily improved with some coaching and regular practice, but the fielding of recent West Indian teams is at best, pathetic.
There are a few exceptions in Ricardo Powell and Shivnarine Chanderpaul, but most of the players who represent the West Indies lack not only basic fielding skills but also anything even remotely resembling commitment.
Certainly this particular problem did not begin with the current coach, but in professional sports when issues like this remain an ongoing problem the person responsible must face the music. West Indies cricket would do well to try to emulate professional sports.
Gus Logie could not have been under any illusions as to the magnitude of the task he signed up for as he was eased into the position of head coach of the West Indies cricket team. Few know as well as Logie the difficulties of working with this particular lot of players or this particular captain. If indeed reports of friction between the coach and captain are true, then that would certainly go a long way in explaining Logie's ineffectiveness but the end result is the same. Lara remains indispensable, so if Lara and Logie cannot work together Logie must be replaced.
There may be some merit to the idea of bringing in a coach who is outside of the politics of West Indies cricket and who brings no baggage (other than his foreign-ness) to the job. An outsider may feel less obligated to toe the line of WICB secrecy and call and be forthright with the obstacles he feels the players are facing. Of course, this is probably the real reason why no outsider will ever get serious consideration for the post, no matter what his credentials. More important than the success of the team is the firm shield that protects management from having any ineptitude exposed.
What stories would Roger Harper have to tell, if he did not depend on his connections in West Indies cricket for his future livelihood?
The recent Darren Powell saga shows how what happens when professional players expect to be babied and catered to. It also shows how little time professional coaches have for these sort of antics. There is certainly another side to the story Powell told in the Jamaica Observer, but even his own side doesn't inspire much respect for an alleged professional who cannot do the job he was hired to do.
In any case, it seems that many schoolboy teams field and catch better than the current West Indies team, and this problem has not been addressed in any way. It is surely inconceivable that this squad of players could be doing daily fielding drills for a few hours each day and still perform so poorly. If they are, then the drills are not effective and this is the coach's fault. It they are not, they should be, and this is also the coach's responsibility.
No matter how you look at it, Gus Logie, as fine a man and former player he may be, is not succeeding in his role as coach and must be replaced with someone who can succeed.