UWI Today March 2015 - page 13

selected. I am of the opinion that we have not managed
this aspect as best as we can.
For all the praises being showered on Lendl Simmons
for his batting at the current One Day World Cup in
Australia/New Zealand, one cannot forget that for a
significant period he was the bête-noir of West Indies
cricket with no clear reason being advanced in respect
to his exclusion from the game. Chris Gayle’s extended
battle with coach Ottis Gibson and his equally extended
exclusion from the team also smacks of an inability by
theWest Indies Cricket Board (WICB) to properlymanage
already-developed human resources. Add to this the
example of young Kieran Powell. Citing personal reasons
for his unavailability to represent theWest Indies, he has
been lost even to his territorial team.
One of themaxims of talent identification is to ensure
that where a talent pool is limited, all efforts should be
made to develop and retain talent when it is recognized.
We may have run afoul of this maxim.
The WICB has made a genuine attempt at player
retention through the retainer contract system. It is
the talent identification system that to me needs to be
beefed up.While there is, in each territory, an established
school cricket system, there must be further attempts
to lure youngsters toward the sport. The pathways to
development that are offered through participation in
basketball, soccer and track and field are not applicable
to cricket. Young athletes who choose those sports can
look forward to scholarship opportunities in addition to
the possibility of professional participation.
A way has to be found to broaden the base of
participation in cricket in the West Indies. It is now
distinctly possible to encounter young boys in the
Caribbean who have had very little, if any, exposure to
playing cricket. This was nigh impossible when every
young boy wanted to bat like Vivian Richards and
throw down thunderbolts like Malcolm Marshall. Mass
participation in informal “windball” or “flannel ball”
cricket may achieve this. Individual territories should be
encouraged to stir up interest in cricket at the primary
school level. In a situation where the region’s sporting
heroes are to be found largely outside of the sport of
cricket, it is absolutely imperative to find creative ways
to broaden the base of participation.
Of course nothing serves to encourage young people
to a sport as the success of a representative team. Perhaps
we have been languishing too much in the wilderness
of international cricket so that our young people can
no longer identify with the stars of our game and hope
to emulate them as in bygone eras. Success could not
come sooner.
This leads me to the other major issue. I am of the
firm opinion that we have not managed performance
well enough. Performance management is an all-
encompassing term referring to the ability to manage
all the factors responsible for good performance. These
are myriad.
It was difficult for me to understand why the West
Indies team was involved in a camp based in Florida as
part preparation for a grueling tour of the sub-continent
in India. The rule of thumb is that it takes roughly a day for
each time zone traveled for an individual to acclimatize
to a change in zones. The West Indies team arrived in
India on October 1, 2014 and was scheduled to play the
first ODI against India in Kochi on October 8. Kochi is
just over 9 time zones away. The team was therefore not
likely to be fully acclimatized before the first ODI. Surely
consideration could have been given to facilitate team
bonding (the purported purpose of the camp in Florida)
somewhere in the subcontinent closer to India if not in
India itself.
I cite the above as an example of the type of planning
that is the hallmark of performance management.
The failure to ensure that contracts are signed off
prior to departure on an overseas tour is as much a
performance management issue as it is a demonstration
of administrative incompetence. It is worthless to speak
of adequate psychological preparation to play cricket if
players’ minds are not at ease over the basic matter of a
A focus on performance management ought to
ensure that ALL factors that determine performance are
clearly identified and planning is done in a thorough
fashion utilizing the best available resources fromwithin
and outside of the region. This ought to virtually ensure
that the experience of our surviving icons is tapped into.
There is also scope for involvement of persons outside of
the sport of cricket e.g. track and field whose experience
with success at the elite level could be parlayed into
success at the one remaining sport that binds the
Caribbean together.
I have attempted to provide an alternative nidus
for discussion about the state of West Indies cricket and
its rejuvenation. This, with all due respect to the many
commentators and fanswho long to see our cricket return
to its glory days.
Dr. Ian Hypolite is a psychiatrist, who lectures at
The UWI’s Faculty of Medical Sciences. He is also an
IAAS-certified elite coach and an IAAF chief coach,
and has been a vice president of the TTOC.
Regional first
class cricket
The professionalisation
of the game in the region
has lagged dramatically behind the advances made
in Australia, England and South Africa during the
1980s and ’90s. India’s professionalization of the
game exploded in the 2000s with the advent of cash
and expertise from the IPL.
The movement of players in a free market
economy in these countries has allowed the most
forward thinking and business-savvy first class
and franchise set-ups to operate as fully fledged
businesses, generating operating profits, winning
trophies andproducing international players for their
national teams.
The territorial first class game in 2014 is
comparative to English County cricket in the
1950s; it is barely professional in its administration,
development and coaching, heavily reliant on
the WICB for funding and administration, there
are exceptions to this in Barbados and Trinidad &
Tobago. The first class game has been reliant on the
abundance of talent, the benevolence of the sugar
industry and English first class cricket to polish
its best players. The lag is dramatic and without
immediate address will only widen the gap between
the top four nations that currently exists.
Regional first class cricket in the formof four-day
and one-day cricket doesn’t have enough fixtures, on
good enough cricket wickets to produce the level
of hard, tough cricket to turn out elite Test and ODI
players. Domestic teams are playing 3‐5 four-day
games a year in comparison to their competitors
in Australia and South Africa who play strength
versus strength cricket in the state and franchise
The four-day competitions in those countries
play a full round of 10 games, where
consistent volume of runs and wickets receives
attention for national selection. The one-day
competition in these countries is a double round
of 10 games followed by semis and finals, with a
minimum of 10 games per team. National selection
is based on sustained, consistent performance.
Dilution of focus on WI Regional Cricket: In
recent years in first class cricket in the region,
overseas sides have been invited to participate along
with the establishment of the CCC side whose goal
is to enable students to play first class cricket. Rather
than the focus being on producing cricket excellence
amongst the top 66 cricketers in the region, with
prioritised inclusion of allWest Indian players playing
in the domestic competitions unless on international
duty, themove to seven teams with regional invitees
has distracted and diluted the focus, finances and
intensity needed to produce elite players. Aspiring
cricketers who are students can be catered for with
performance related cricket bursaries to universities
and colleges, a simple exercise in an age of online
The cricket systems that have produced cricket
excellence from its players over the last 15 years are
county, state and franchise.Those countries prioritise
their own domestic competitions and don’t release
players to play in other countries competitions whilst
their own competitions are on.
The West Indies First Class Cricket system
of six first class cricket teams, playing strength
versus strength, produced the best players and the
most dominating force in the history of cricket. Its
simplicity was its strength, its guiding principle was
West Indies first. No compromise.
This is an extract from theWest Indies Cricket
System Report presented byWICB cricket
director, Richard Pybus, March 2014.
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