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PITT STOP: Politics aside, something else is holding WI back from cricket success

Can anyone explain why the West Indies are playing Pakistan at virtually the same time the Indian Premier League games are being played?

One can understand why Pakistan, whose players do not play in the IPL, would be willing to be involved but what is the rationale for the involvement of the West Indies? Does management want to demonstrate that the mercenaries will always show their true colours?

Photo: West Indies cricket star Dwayne Bravo (right) on duty with the Chennai Super Kings.
Photo: West Indies cricket star Dwayne Bravo (right) on duty with the Chennai Super Kings.

Scheduling is the key to the avoidance of all this angst in international cricket over players not making the sacrifices necessary to make themselves available to represent their countries.

This is not soccer, the beautiful game with a ton of countries. There are some ten countries that play serious cricket. Ten people—preferably women—with a computer and a world map and the will can solve this problem. The whole business is just so ridiculous.

Why are cricketers forced to choose between the possibility, even the probability, of earning blue-collar wages and the certainty of an executive pay scale?

Guess what, if presented with such an option, the WICB directors and those who support them would do?

With the Fourth ODI between the two teams about to start on Sunday, Ian Bishop warned listeners in his pre-game broadcast that the WI team in this era tends not to win successive games. He might have said back-to-back games but I think it was the former.

I do not know whether Bishop asked himself why this was the case but, apart from an interview in The Cricketer magazine some time ago in which Sir Vivian Richards credited psychologist Rudi Webster with taking his game to a higher level early in his international career, West Indian cricket people tend, for some undeclared reason, to avoid discussions about the mental side of the game.

Photo: West Indies spinner Sunil Narine prepares to bowl against New Zealand at Seddon Park, Hamilton on 21 December 2013. (Copyright AFP 2014/Michael Bradley)
Photo: West Indies spinner Sunil Narine prepares to bowl against New Zealand at Seddon Park, Hamilton on 21 December 2013. (Copyright AFP 2014/Michael Bradley)

In accounting for poor performances, they prefer to focus on explanations that have more to do with negative personality traits like laziness or lack of pride.

The fact is, however, that there has been so much evidence over the last several years which points in the direction of lack of confidence—what Webster once labelled the “fear of winning.” It is astounding that so little attention has been paid to it. That may well be an even bigger problem than our thoughtless selection policies

It seems absolutely clear to me that unless we take major steps to pay careful attention to the psyche of our cricketers in preparing them for international competition, they will remain at or near the bottom of the rankings in all formats of international cricket. I suspect that the incredibly poor relationships that exist between management and players, especially senior players, is one of the reasons for the fragility of the psyches of our men.

We owe it to our cricketers who have done so much for the image of the region to recognize the critical importance of hardening our players mentally if they are to continue competing at the highest level.

Is it not a fact that nowadays the mental side of the game is at least as important as its physical side?

And the mental side includes the work of administrators and selectors as well. It is a pity that my recent letter was not published before Evin Lewis’ devastating match-winning innings in the Third ODI on Saturday. It should not surprise well-informed cricket people that a highly skilled left-hander is more likely than a similar right-hander to score heavily against leg-spin.

Photo: West Indies' Evin Lewis hits a boundary during the third of four T20I matches against Pakistan at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain, Trinidad, on 1 April 2017.  (Copyright AFP 2017/Jewel Samad)
Photo: West Indies’ Evin Lewis hits a boundary during the third of four T20I matches against Pakistan at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain, Trinidad, on 1 April 2017.
(Copyright AFP 2017/Jewel Samad)

I have already commented on how thoughtless it was to have excluded the best left-hand batsman, Darren Bravo, from West Indies cricket for what is essentially a rather “childish” reason. After watching the devastation wreaked by the two Pakistani leg-spinners, not playing the in-form Jonathan Carter in this series is clearly a mistake, grounded partly in the simplistic notion that many cricketers are simply not suited for the shorter form of the game.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, there are very few really good cricketers who cannot perform well in all forms of the game.

Who dares dispute that what is needed most in West Indies cricket is more thinking, especially of the independent variety?

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19 comments

  1. Every other country if the world would call on its cricket board to account if a series loss. The WIND feel they are untouchable. We should all through out the Caribbean , take the rag out and the politics and fire the board, and put people in who know the game who take advice and not about filling there pockets.

  2. Why are we West Indians so tolerant of the WICB? Why aren’t they being called to account?

  3. Well written sir…HOW does a West Indian player work.on his MENTAL side?
    Thinking.cricketers…how.is this moulded??

  4. Any other country i am willing to bet would have capitalised on that T20 world cup victory and team. One year later can we name a major sponsor outside of digicel added? Have they really used it to bring back the fans? Instead that management team has been dismantled other key players black listed and world continues to enjoy our individual talents while smirking at how we cant keep it together.
    There is a massive lack of foresight into what is good for the game.

  5. Nobody seems to want to address what appears obvious to me….

    West Indies players appear to equate representing West Indies as representing the WICB.

    And if that’s the case……story done. If you don’t like working for & or don’t respect “your employer”….then no matter how “professional” one is…..it’s hard to separate performance from attitude.

    When people say how our players perform great deeds for their foreign employers but not the same for the WICB…..then it’s clear to me.

    It’s not JUST about $$$ as some would like us to think. It’s about being treated right. Treated with respect.

    I heard a commentator recently say in a very agitated manner that the current players now have nothing to complain about. They each have their own rooms…they travel well….they eat well….they’re paid….they don’t have to carry luggage etc. They’ve been given everything. They cannot complain about anything now.

    Yet the last T20 world cup winning team complained about basic stuff like kits not arriving on time. Lack of respect from the WICB President to players etc. There are always consequences for players. None for administration. Especially THIS administration…who were “elected” for yet another term.

    The WICB wants obedient cricketers. Players who they say will represent the maroon with pride. They fail to realize that those same players they touting as good boys now….are very aware of how their predecessors were and continue to be treated.

    Players have to take responsibility…yes…..but they don’t operate in a vacuum

    • Lasana Liburd

      I think you’re exactly right Gary. I can almost picture WICB officials calling players with: “Come here boy!”
      There seems not to be an environment of mutual respect here at all. Maybe the BCCI should have insisted that Cameron put on pads and go out to face some pace bowling when his refusal to compromise led to that abandoned tour.
      I think that poisoned environment without basic respect for each other contributed to Bravo’s outburst.

  6. Ask WICB? I tell you there is more in this pestle than meet the eyes? Everybody has a price? they just frustrating the youths. It appears that some one is going at great lengths to ensure WI cricket does not arise again.I wonder why.? A white mans game taken over by blacks, like most sports.A gentleman’s game. History says a lot about this issue. you might ask why race , just think about other sports .Who rules football, baseball,basketball, boxing (No great white Hope).What were their origins? What did black people have to go through to break the barrier in those sports. Then WI came along and ruled cricket. men whose names are etched in the cricket books and destroyed by its own. Reminds me of slavery , who kidnapped and forced slaves to the WI, white masters with the help of same black people. For how long? Why with all the new and sophisticated measures , we seem unable to get out of the rut. Like CARICOM insularity and hatred for T&T(brought on by us and our so called superior attitude to the islands), Which countries keep voting Cameron and his inept board.? No help from dead horse TTCB. They still functioning

  7. It isn’t instinctive to want to work hard either. You have to be able to visualise the rewards for your labour. And it probably isn’t easy to visualise the upside of your efforts in a maroon cap.
    Darren Bravo could probably testify on that one.

  8. Sambit Bal summed it up best earlier this year

    http://www.espncricinfo.com/review2016/content/story/1074987.html

    “West Indies: the T20 beat
    Traditionally, good teams and good players have been good, or at least competitive, in all formats. West Indies are now forcing a rethink. There were encouraging signs for them in Test cricket in 2016 – they batted over 100 overs in the third innings to save a Test against India, won a Test against Pakistan in the UAE, and in Kraigg Brathwaite, they have found a Test opener in the classical mould. But they continue to rot in the bottom half of the Test rankings. Meanwhile, they are redefining the contours of T20 cricket.

    In India last March, they became the first team to win the World T20 for the second time, and they did so with loose-limbed, free-spirited power-hitting that put no premium on wickets. In the semi-final against India, they chased down 193 with 20 fours and 11 sixes, 31 scoring shots fetching over 75% of the runs required.

    With 19 needed in the last over to win the final, in Kolkata, Carlos Brathwaite, their hulking No. 8, who is the antithesis of his namesake in the Test team, hauled his side over the line by carting Ben Stokes for four successive sixes with a coolness that said to the world: why are you surprised?

    Why should we be, indeed? The reasons for West Indies’ decline are manifold, but the lure of T20 leagues and disillusionment with continued maladministration has turned a bunch of naturally gifted strokemakers into a merry band of global T20 mercenaries, and in a twisted way, it has helped build the most dangerous hitting machine in a form of the game that rewards power, athleticism and instinct over rigour, patience and innings-building. For cricket’s emerging audiences, they are the new poster boys. To grudge them their place would be regressively wistful.”

    • But Colin Benjamin how do you fix the problem that we are not playing enough? We had only a handful of games prior to the T20 world cup last year.

    • Ever since the scandalous India 14 abandoned tour the WICB via the plan by former idiots WICB director of cricket Pybus has done everything to rid the team of India 14 members

      Only one from that tour who still involved in team consistency is Holder

      They also put out a weird strategy of focusing only on tests team since India 14 and never cared about those guys hence why so little T20s were organized from then to 2016 World Cup

      Hence why Sammy and many others have said correctly that 2016 win was solely their own achievement & absolutely nothing to do with WICB – but yet big idiot Cameron and his minions in full fledge brain failure delusional want to take credit for it.

      The board certainly didn’t expect them to win since you might recall when Sammy called them on pre tournament on tournament contracts – board was threatening to send a replacement team

    • Yes I remember very clearly that we could have gone with another team

    • Ye so much little lies WICB gets away

  9. Losing hasn’t been an issue in the T20 formats

    It’s a question that fans and media need to think deep about cause this is not the test & ODI teams.

    Windies won 2 world cups and dominate T20 cricket with there players starring in every T29 league world wide between 2012-2016 – setting new trends in the format

    Pretty much the modern day equivalent to what test & odi team did in 70s & 80s

    And one year later after 2016 World Cup win – its either the t20 team suddenly forget how play or something in dressing room environment wrong

    • and it’s also not the same team.

    • I think they’re demoralized, they’ve dealt with a lot these past few months. An unwilling, malipulative, condescending and destructive president whose sole agenda is strutting his power and reaking havoc is enough to put anyone in a tailspin.

    • Yea and strategically it for simple financial reasons (board so stupid to realize this) playing for Windies keeps their auction value high in t20 leagues – especially in IPL, hence why you haven’t seen players unilaterally walk away from Windies

      If they retire or stop playing internationals like let’s say some like former New Zealand & England stars Brendan McCullum & Pietersen they won’t get a high purchase

      Players smarter than them

  10. Losing has become a habit in WI colours. They look like completely different players in the franchise leagues. Agree with this angle 100%