Q&A: Barbados Captain Ryan Hinds

Tue, Jan 10, '06

by MICHELLE MCDONALD

Barbados

Ryan Hinds has always been a praying man, but even if he wasn't, the many unfortunate episodes in his short career would have caused him to get down on his knees. Successful performances at the under-19 level led to him being hailed as the next best player to emerge. However, we are yet to see the quality of performances that in 2000, players like Desmond Haynes and Ian Bishop predicted would come from him.

That's because Hinds' career has sputtered; stopping and starting like a car in need of a good tune up. Unlike others whose inconsistencies have been much a result of their own doing, Ryan Hinds has been dealt an unlucky hand through injury, illness and man-made acts. These have interrupted his career at the most inopportune times.

First, there were torn knee ligaments that sent him home from the tour of India. Then there was the World Cup affair in 2003 caused by indecision on whether Marlon Samuels should go, given his knee problem. Named as Samuels' replacement, Hinds actually set foot on South African soil but was shipped back to the Caribbean when Samuels was eventually deemed fit enough to play.

The straw that may have broken the camel's back was in 2005. Bennett King was now the new West Indies coach and he had seen and been impressed by a young Ryan Hinds at the Shell Cricket Academy in 2001. With King as a selector, Hinds got another chance and went to Australia to play in the VB series, but a groin injury knocked him out of that competition even before it had started. After recuperating at home, he played in the opening Test against South Africa at Bourda. Then a viral illness struck.

Ryan Hinds

How much more could a young man take? If Hinds was living in an area of the Caribbean where old folklore is alive and well, he might have thought that he was the target of an 'obeah' curse. Luckily, he has a mother who has instilled some strong values in him, and brought him up to deal with the cruel blows that life can throw at you.

Newly named as the replacement for Courtney Browne to lead Barbados, the 24 year old Ryan Hinds paused to talk with CaribbeanCricket.com on day three of the Carib Beer fixture against the Windwards in Grenada. The captaincy, facilities around the region, and his own dogged career were amongst the topics of conversation?.

This is your second match as Barbados Captain. First of all, did you know that Courtney was retiring?

Well, not really. It was a real shock to me. Courtney and I, we're pretty close mates, and the news was really a shock.

Who from the BCA called you and said you had been selected?

Well actually we were in camp ? Barbados' two week camp at Mangrove. The selectors had to meet and decide on the captaincy and then they got back to us and in the night time I heard I was captain. It was a real honour to me to be part of a select bunch. Only a few people can captain at any level, and I am very happy to be a part of that select bunch.

But of course captaincy is not new to you.

I've had the opportunity to captain the U-15 and U-19 national teams so I have a very good idea about captaincy and leadership.

And you captained the West Indies U-19 team.

Yes, in 2000 to Sri Lanka.

Were you the Vice Captain of the Barbados team?

Yes, I was the Vice Captain in either 2001 or 2002 and then I got stripped and then I regained the vice captaincy in 2005.

Why were you stripped?

I guess the selectors gave me an opportunity to go back and work on my game. I guess being vice captain is a lot of toll on you so I guess they relieved me and gave me the opportunity to go back and work on my game. I am very thankful for that.

As captain, what would you say your style of leadership is?

I like to be attacking. I guess depending on the situation of the game, your style would vary a little bit, but I more like to attack.

What about your people management style? Are you very strict? I got the impression from Courtney that he was a no- nonsense kind of captain; he expected high standards, no fooling around, that sort of thing.

As you know, Barbados has a very rich history of winning, from the Shell Shield days, so I think it's very important for me that we maintain a very high standard. I am a very easy going person but at the same time, I try to maintain a very high standard of Barbados cricket.

Have you had a team meeting after today's performance?

Not as yet.

What will be your message after all of those dropped catches and missed chances?

Well I don't think we caught well as a team. That's something we can go and work on and come tomorrow and look to bowl out Windwards as soon as possible.

What are your goals and objectives for this team?

We have a pretty young side and I think it's not all about winning; it's more so about how we develop players to go on to play the next level. So that's what I'm really concerned about now ? the development of Barbados cricket.

And at what stage are you going to say to the BCA "these are my plans' or 'this is what I'd like for the team to have'?

Coach [Hendy Springer] and I, we are very close, we're trying to get certain things in place. We are finalizing what we want for the next couple of years. Things are definitely in place.

I suppose one of your first goals is to win the Carib Beer tournament this year.

There is nothing like winning in your first year as captain.

Do you think that you have had enough training or preparation to be a good captain?

I'm always willing to learn. Whatever advice, whatever help I can get, I would be very grateful for it. No one is perfect, so once any senior players come around, or anyone who is willing to help me with captaincy or leadership, I really don't mind the advice.

What has been the response of your team mates, especially the older ones who have been around first class cricket for a longer time than you?

I think the guys are very supportive of me. I have played in teams with the same guys that supported me so it's always good to have those guys around to help me. Leadership is being able to influence people. Once I can get that going, it makes my job a lot easier.

I don't get the impression that the facilities here in Grenada are all they should be, so how do you inspire them to go out there and perform, in spite of all the conditions off the field?

It's just a matter of staying focused and playing to what we can do. We have been working hard over the last couple of months. It's just a bit unfortunate that we just got in the one first class game last year and then the break. Sometimes it's very difficult to motivate a team but it's something we work on. The unity is there and we are very happy.

Let's talk about your own career. Why did you choose cricket?

My Dad, he loves cricket. I was raised in St Lucy and from the time I was a little kid, he always used to take me around to matches. My uncle played a bit of cricket for the Barbados or West Indies U-19 teams. So I always had cricket in my family.

I live now in Holder's Hill where we produced a lot of fine cricketers ? Desmond Haynes, Adrian Griffiths, Franklyn Stephenson to name a few. Where I am from, we try to maintain that high standard in Holders Hill. Two of the guys on the West Indies U-19 team are from Holder's Hill.

When did you say cricket is what you're going to do for your profession, because you could just be playing club cricket.

When I first went into St Leonard's Secondary Boys School, I had a love for football and also cricket and I realized I wasn't really getting much chances in football so I decided I would take a shot at cricket.

A lot of credit must go to my coach at school, Mr Quentin. Our school, we didn't have any playing field. We were one of the schools not to have a playing field; we used to have to share a playing field with someone else. He worked really hard with us and we were successful in winning four championships under his guidance, in spite of not having a field. He loved cricket and he believed in us as players. It's just unfortunate that some of the guys never really lived up to the standard that he would have expected them to live up to.

When did you get the first call to represent a West Indies team?

I could remember the Carib Cement cup, U-15. It was in Trinidad. I was the MVP for Barbados in that tournament. Then I remember they had the first U-15 World Cup, the Lombard Challenge in England and I played there.

What was that experience like for you?

Well it was my first time in England; first time travelling for eight hours. The facilities there were so good. It was really a learning experience for me to be playing in England.

You were probably a tiny tot, with the pads too big for you!

Yeah [laughing]

So you progressed from West Indies U-15 to U-19 so you must have been thinking that the next step is the senior team. And once you got into the one day team in 2001, then I am sure you thought 'yes, I have a shot at getting into the Test team'.

Yes, as a young boy coming up, one of my dreams always was to represent the West Indies. I couldn't even sleep that night when I was named in the final Eleven. For me, it was a real joy to get over that and I was trying to maintain a very bright future in West Indies cricket. That's what I'm working on right now.

Did you feel you got enough preparation for the transition from U-19 to senior cricket?

To be honest, not much first class cricket is being played in the region. We play five first class games a year if you are not getting into the semi finals or finals. I don't think it's enough cricket to prepare you for the world stage.

Do you think the selectors should have a criterion that says you must have played let's say two full first class seasons before being eligible for selection?

Well, I'm not too sure about that [chuckling]. As long as you're performing, you're always in the selectors' eyes. It's just a matter of performing and you never know!

But the thinking is that without that first class experience to give you knowledge of how to deal with certain situations, then you're being set up for failure at the higher level and that only very special people would be able to go on to be a success at the senior team level without much first class experience.

I guess that is a very difficult situation. Obviously you want to play, you know you want to represent the West Indies. I just would like to see more first class cricket being played so that we are better prepared for international cricket.

When you first got selected, I am sure you must have had a vision for your career. Have you had to adjust that any, based on how your career has gone so far?

Well you know that I've had a lot of ups and downs in my career so far - injuries and not performing at the standard. I am a very strong minded person. I think very positively so I guess I just need to stay focussed, have a vision as you said, or have a plan, and I am working on that right now.

Last year you got a double strike because you got the groin injury in the VB series and had to come back home and then you got into the series against South Africa and then you had the viral illness and then you missed out. How do you pick yourself up after something like that?

[He exhales] At the end of the day, you got to remain focus, you got to stay positive. I pray a lot and I believe in my ability to play cricket at the highest level for quite some time.

What has been your most memorable performance at the Test level?

My debut Test, first innings in test cricket, 62. I really enjoyed it. I was looking at three figures and unfortunately I got out softly.

Do you think that if you had got the three figures, it would have set you up any better, confidence wise?

Yeah, pretty much. There is nothing like getting a hundred on debut. I guess that would have been a remarkable achievement.

The test against England where you got 84 in that first innings; then you go on to a second innings where the team gets 47. Highs and lows of cricket?how do you deal with them?

Just like life. Sometimes in life you have your highs and your lows, it's just a matter of picking up yourself and being positive and getting out there and really wanting to achieve your goals and that rich history of West Indies cricket.

I have heard Bennett King say that he wanted to groom somebody like you to be a closer, like in one day cricket. What kind of guidance have you had from him in terms of trying to pick your career back up?

I am very fortunate to have worked with Bennett King at the Shell Cricket Academy in 2002 or 2000 I think it was. Bennett saw something in me and just told me to keep working at my game and then he came to the Caribbean.

What specifically are you working on to try and improve your game?

All round game ? mentally, physically and obviously technically. Spend a lot of time in the nets, watching cricket, talking. You know it's always good to talk about cricket, reading books about our history.

Were you always an all rounder?

This is something you must know?I was a wicket keeper/batsman. And in the Carib Cement U-15 tournament, I went as the first string batsman/wicketkeeper! I used to do a bit of bowling in the nets, and then my bowling came on strong from there, and then I started bowling more and forgot about the wicket keeping.

Do you think that spinners get enough of a run in the West Indies team?

I'm not too sure. Everyone would love to see a quality spinner in their side and it's just a matter of whoever plays, to make the best of it.

Do you consider yourself a quality spinner, or have the potential to be a quality spinner?

I have the potential to be a quality spinner. Some people don't take my bowling very seriously. I'm an underrated bowler but I know the person that I am; I'm very strong minded. Plus, in the Barbados team, we always had a good core of fast bowlers so sometimes it's very difficult to get that long spell.

Everybody writes that we need to find one, so is that something that you're hoping that will get you in, by improving your bowling, to get into the team?

Not just improving my bowling; improving my whole all round game, improving my fielding and my batting.

Well, we have enough batsmen.

Yeah, I guess I'm working on improving my bowling with the right guidance.

What are your thoughts on the facilities around the region?

I firstly feel that the facilities can be improved. I guess if we can probably get a bit more indoor facilities, so if you're having problem with pitches or if there is rain around, you must be able to go in an indoor facility with a weight room. I am sure that this would improve cricket in the Caribbean.

How much do you know about the Stanford 20/20 tournament?

Well, I just picked up the paper one day and saw that Mr Stanford put BDS$56m into cricket, into this 20/20 tournament and that's as far as I know.

You're now Barbados captain. When you read about it you weren't, so there is probably more that you will find out in the future, but what's your initial reaction?

I guess it's a start. As I said, the more cricket we get, I guess we will be able to improve, and 20/20 is becoming very popular now in the international arena. It's very popular in England so once we can get more cricket playing around the Caribbean, I'm sure that our cricketers will improve.

So it really doesn't matter what kind of cricket. You know the purists say that unless it's Test cricket, it really doesn't count.

Once it's cricket, with the right coaches, doing the right things, more often than not, our cricket will definitely rise.

Are you one of the cricketers who go to England to play in the leagues?

Well actually I was on a two year contract.

Which league were you with?

The Central Lancashire leagues. People there are very supportive of me. The facilities there are excellent. You have a squash room. You have the cricket facilities outdoor. You have the pitch and then you can go on the side and have a hit. I mean, if a club team can have these sorts of facilities, why can't we have these sorts of facilities in the Caribbean?

Yes, that is a question that a lot of people ask. With the Stanford tournament, part of the money that they are going to be giving is to help to do things like that and some of the countries have put in proposals for nets and pitches and that sort of thing, so from that standpoint how do you see it being beneficial to the region?

Having these sorts of facilities, I guess you wake up on mornings, you take a nice jog down, you and a few guys and go in the facilities and have a hit and later on, have these facilities available again to have some practice. As they say, the more you practise the better you get.

Let's talk World Cup. We are hosting the World Cup in 2007. Are you hoping to be a part of that unit?

Most definitely.

Now you nearly got a chance in 2003. What did that feel like?

Well you know, when I first got the call up, I told myself this was another great opportunity to make a name for myself, to make people in the Caribbean proud. There is nothing like winning and bringing home the World Cup.

And then you had to go back home.

[Inhales deeply] And then I had to go back home and yes?.that was another turning point in my life. Obviously a bit disappointed.

A bit?

Yes, a bit disappointed.

Not a lot?

I was disappointed, but I just wanted to remain focussed and have a more clear vision on what I wanted to achieve.

Ok. If you weren't playing cricket, what would you be doing?

I always wanted to manage my own company, looking to get into business management.

Did you do CXCs?

Yes, I had the opportunity to do a bit of CXCs.

Do you think there is enough support for people who want to go to school and also play cricket?

Well, I believe there can be a lot more support. It's very difficult as a cricketer to study and work and then play at the same time. And that is a very unfortunate situation in Barbados where some of the guys maintain themselves mostly on cricket and sometimes when you have a job, sometimes it's very difficult to get time off to go and practise and prepare for your national team, and that is why sometimes people lose focus in cricket.

And you would think that because you are playing for the national team that a company would say 'I have an employee who is playing for the national team and I am going to give them the time off with pay', but that doesn't happen in Barbados.

No, that doesn't always happen and I would like to see it happen.

Where do you see yourself in five years time? What do you see yourself doing?

Being a very successful captain, someone that has done Barbados and West Indies cricket really proud; being married with a few kids.

Married with children. So you are following Courtney and Corey with the marriage thing.

It's just a thought [smiling].

We have read about your ups and downs in the news, first there is the World Cup in 2003. You are there and then you're not there.

My career was there, and then the first series in India, I had to come back home because of my knees.

Did you actually play at all?

No, I didn't get a chance to play. I came back home injured. I think Lawson replaced me.

With all that has happened to you, you must be very mentally strong.

In this world you need to be mentally strong. My mother is a very very influential person in my life. I am very fortunate to have someone like her around.

Do you go to church?

Well when I have the time.

Do you travel around with your bible?

Yeah, all the time.

You say you pray a lot.

Yes, I like to pray.

What are your prayers for the West Indies team?

I just pray that we could turn around the cricket and make West Indies people happy.

When you reach 60 and you look back on your life, how would you measure if it was successful or not?

Well I guess by performances, by the way how I prepared myself; that would be very crucial.