A View of The Future (Part 2)
Tue, Jan 17, '06(EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the final installment of a two-part editorial by the former West Indies captain on the future of cricket in the Caribbean region. Click here for part one).
The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) must also be more centrally involved in the administration of cricket in the Region in the areas which are of the greatest importance. It must for example, supervise what is going on in each territory so that matters such as financial planning, the medical condition of the players of the Region, the nurturing of the 'A' Team, and the question of coaching can be adequately addressed.
In view of the fact that the 'A' Team is nowadays just as important as the international team, this must be a point of focus and attention. As touring teams do not play as much cricket in the Region as before, the 'A' Team assumes particular significance in the overall development of West Indies cricket. This team gives the Board the best opportunity to see what talent is available in the Region. This therefore means that the programme for this team must make provision for there to be overseas tours as often as possible. The 'A' Team must therefore be adequately but separately funded and this will mean that the requisite sponsors must be found.
The aim of creating and establishing a competent and professional 'A' Team must be complemented by the support of cricket at the grassroots level. Let me explain what I mean. I think the time has come when we should seek to create a network of cricket activities at the Primary, Secondary and Tertiary levels of our education system. I am not suggesting that for one moment that we should duplicate the system which seeks to capture young cricketers at the Under 15, Under 17 and Under 19 levels but that more cricket should be concentrated in our educational institutions.
ALSO READ: Wanted: A Scientific Action Plan
In addition, the WICB should encourage the territorial Boards to venture out into the rural areas, beyond the traditional Regions in which cricket is played, to determine whether there are not good cricketers in places which might not be playing cricket for one reason or another but would have players of potential at the grassroots level.
Coaching has become an important if not decisive part in modern international cricket. Almost all modern cricket teams have highly qualified coaches who are versed in the kind of technology and knowledge of the game which they can impart to the teams for which they are responsible. In fact, methods of coaching have been revolutionized as a result of technology. The West Indies must join this area of progress of the game. The WICB can begin by ensuring that each territory has a qualified coach who must have passed at least the Advanced Coaching Certificate. These coaches, who will have to be approved by the Board, must be able to harness modern technological methods associated with the game to their coaching activities. Up to date technologies such as the "silicon" programme, which is available to the WICB, must be utilised.
The WICB does not only have responsibility of protecting cricket and the players in the Region financially but also in ensuring that all the players in the Region are the recipients of the best medical facilities. This must mean that whenever one of our players is injured he must be in a position to enjoy the best medical facilities available. Relatedly, there must be emphasis on good nutrition and the pursuit of sound physical conditioning to prevent players from suffering injuries too early in their careers. Sound physical conditioning and a good diet could go a long way towards improving the overall performance of any West Indies Cricket team.
ALSO READ: On Fitness & Injuries...
To support the foregoing proposals, there must be an adequately staffed cricket academy which could be central to the planning of West Indies cricket. The responsibility of the academy, among other things, would be to produce cricketers who have a sound knowledge of the game and the historical and sociological importance it has for the rest of the Region. Also, training at the academy will ensure that the cricketers know how to handle the media and to conduct themselves in a manner befitting the dignity of a West Indian cricketer. In short, the academy must produce competent, intelligent and "thinking cricketers".
For the academy to be effective it should be affiliated to the University of the West Indies and the University of Guyana. The WICB and these Regional tertiary institutions must have programmes for the cricketers similar to that promoted by the ASA Wright Centre in Trinidad which can teach such disciplines as Financial Management, the use of a proper diet, the importance of Sports Psychology and how to solve the problems which can confront a cricketer on the cricket field and in life.
I have decided to place these views on record in the expectation that it will stimulate debate across the Region on the ills and difficulties which afflict West Indies cricket and what measures and programmes can be developed to put things right.
In the closing hours of the memorable Test series between the West Indies and England, that doyen of cricket writers, Mr. JS Barker, wrote that "one expects dizzy swoops from the peaks into the abyss from West Indies cricketers". Barker contended that the West Indian cricketer is a club cricketer and that inconsistencies appear in his play when he has to make the transition to the high standards of modern international cricket. And although such inconsistencies appeared to be in a abeyance during our period of dominance, it seems to be returning to haunt our cricket. It is time to put an end to the club cricketer and create a consistent, committed, and responsible professional.
I remain a firm and committed supporter of West Indies Cricket and its Teams and will continue to support our players. But it is my opinion that measures must be put in place to enable West Indies Cricket to turn the proverbial corner. Once these measures are taken, and given the will and commitment, West Indies Cricket will be ready and able to compete with and challenge the best in the world.
* Clive Lloyd played in 110 Test matches for the West Indies between 1966 and 1984. He captained the regional side in 74 Tests and is widely regarded as one of the most successful leaders in international cricket history.