A Question of Coaching?
Mon, May 17, '04
I was listening to the radio commentary from the first ODI between the West Indies and Bangladesh and while I was pleased with a seemingly disciplined bowling performance, I was irked into making this commentary on coaching when I heard the explanation of Chris Gayle's dismissal.
As a qualified coach, maybe because it is an occupational hazard, we tend to look for areas where players in any sport shows a weakness or strength as this can help us in our own bid to properly coach athletes who come under our care.
Now, I am not sure if Chris Gayle's dismissal is due to the problem I have spotted while watching the WI vs England series. As a Jamaican living abroad, hence my view from the television screens, I am really concerned that Gayle's batting has gone from promising to poor. Looking at his style, which we think has changed, we wonder when his next big score will come. Unless there is a change, we regret to say, this will be long in coming.
We saw some of the games from South Africa and then the entire England series and there is a noticeable difference in Gayle's stance. His feet are much wider these days. His stance is, compared to other batsmen, normally wide but it seems more so in the recent series. Now for a player who has never been known to utilize much foot movement, this stance is the death blow to Gayle's game as a batsman.
What little mobility he had before is totally negated by this position. The result is that he is now reaching, stretching for deliveries just short of a good length and he will not be able to play off the back foot very well either. I am bewildered that this style is allowed to continue for so long, a whole series, especially when the results are clearly dismal when you compare past performances.
I see this problem as symptomatic to the West Indies team. Players with weaknesses tend to show marginal, if any, improvement over time. Is it a coaching problem or a players' attitude problem? I know the late great Malcolm Marshall and Anderson Roberts, when they were coaching the team, expressed regret at not being listened to by the players. It would be unfair to take that side as players can't really respond for fear of being victimized. But if we want to see West Indies cricket improve, we must know where the weaknesses are and address them. So if it is a coaching problem, say so or if it is a player's attitude problem, say so and then act.
One way or another, this flaw should not be allowed to continue. I guess that is why some are advocating for an overseas coach who will not have the bias or be intimidated by the insular behaviour that local coaches suffer from. As a person who has bought into the philosophy behind getting a Rene Simoes for Jamaican football, maybe this should be the focus of the WICB.
* Urel Sawyers is a Teacher/Journalist and qualified multi sport coach certified under the National Coaching Course of Canada.