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PITT STOP: Our high, low game; would new rules and roles help WI win more matches?

After the big 7-wicket WI victory in the third of the four T20s against Pakistan at the Queen’s Park Oval last weekend, former-ace-pacer-turned-broadcaster Ian Bishop reminded listeners that the hosts tend not to repeat victories. Carlos Brathwaite’s side duly lost the last match, giving the visitors a 3-1 win in the series.

Photo: West Indies' fans cheer during the third of four T20I matches between West Indies and Pakistan at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain, Trinidad, on 1 April 2017. West Indies won the match by 7 wickets, although Pakistan eventually won the series 3-1. (Copyright AFP 2017/Jewel Samad)
Photo: West Indies’ fans cheer during the third of four T20I matches between West Indies and Pakistan at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain, Trinidad, on 1 April 2017. West Indies won the match by 7 wickets, although Pakistan eventually won the series 3-1.
(Copyright AFP 2017/Jewel Samad)

Led by Jason Mohammed’s fine, fighting, unbeaten 91 – off 58 balls with 11 fours and three sixes – at Providence on Friday, the West Indians came from behind to win the first ODI. They chased down 308 in a blaze of high-class hitting, the first time any West Indian side had achieved the feat of successfully scoring in excess of 300 for an ODI victory.

Set a “mere” 283 to win the second encounter and clinch the series victory, they duly lost the match by 74 runs when the top of the batting order collapsed.

Mr Bishop is a bright man; he must suspect that there very likely is a reason or some reasons other than pure ability for the phenomenon he has correctly identified. Bright but too well brought up, however, Bishop is careful not to speculate. His job does not require it.

Management, though, has no such excuse. They are duty-bound not just to be curious but to seek to identify the cause of the malady and to remedy it.

I have no background in psychology but I think of myself as both sensible and sensitive and I have an idea. My thinking is that victories, especially those that are huge or come as a surprise, may well spawn in the players what might be loosely described as an excessive “high.”

I am tempted to wonder whether they might not require specialised help to climb down from this victory-induced state.

Photo: West Indies players celebrate after victory in the World T20 cricket final against England at The Eden Gardens Cricket Stadium in Kolkata on 3 April 2016. Are the highs of victory too high for the region's players? (Copyright AFP2016/Dibyangshu Sarkar)
Photo: West Indies players celebrate after victory in the World T20 cricket final against England at The Eden Gardens Cricket Stadium in Kolkata on 3 April 2016. Are the highs of victory too high for the region’s players?
(Copyright AFP2016/Dibyangshu Sarkar)

Whatever the real reason behind it may be, it just seems clear to me that it is something that deserves much more attention than simply encouraging the players to do better next time. It seems to me that players like the 27-year-old Kieran Powell and the 29-year-old Jonathan Carter and perhaps the 24-year-old Shai Hope need help in relaxation techniques and that Evin Lewis, who is 25, would perform better if he were offered assistance in developing his concentration.

While management considers this important mental issue, it seems to me it would be appropriate for the West Indian cricketing powers-that-be to examine more carefully the rule that appears to prohibit coaches from being very involved once the game is under way. Considering what the Pakistan score was after the first 40 overs, it is most unlikely that they would have scored as many runs as they eventually did on Sunday if the coach were actively involved.

That Carter bowled the last over is the item that stands out most in that discussion; there certainly were, however, other issues.

Has the West Indies Cricket Board not announced an agenda to grow the game by selling it to North American audiences? Is there any chance that a sporting culture that makes the coach the central figure in football, in soccer and in basketball, to cite only those, would not reject the notion of a coach who must twiddle his thumbs while the team for which he is responsible struggles to keep its head above water?

Photo: LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena (centre) congratulates Central FC custodian Jan-Michael Williams, after their 1-1 tie in CONCACAF Champions League action in August 2015. Coaches are at the centre of the action in virtually all American professional sport. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena (centre) congratulates Central FC custodian Jan-Michael Williams, after their 1-1 tie in CONCACAF Champions League action in August 2015. Coaches are at the centre of the action in virtually all American professional sport.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Let it be clear, however, that the business of the coach’s involvement or non-involvement is not a West Indian issue. It is a cricket issue and it needs to be addressed if the game is to be fully professionalised.

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4 comments

  1. Earl Best

    The question that arises for me is where are these rules that restrict coaching interventions coming from. And what is the justification for their existence?

    If these are ICC rules,, then the move is probably India-inspired, Dhoni and now Kohli being far superior to anyone else on show these days.

    If the rules are not ICC rules, I cannot for the life of me work out why they exist.Would they be a throwback to the bad old days of gentlemen and players and the notion that any captain worth his salt will be superior to anyone else in the team/squad, including, one supposes, a coach since no gentleman would be caught dead earning his keep by coaching a cricket team?

    I dunno. AV, any idea where the rules originate and when they were first introduced?

  2. And who is to blame for that? The blasted W.I, board of course, they picking a side that they know should have at least 7, Trini’s on board, but they to F%&KING bias,so don’t cry WOLF,when we lose,cry the WI board.Peace! Still luv my WI.

  3. All teams go through low points. All the top teams have had periods of poor play but the difference (which this tries to capture) is the structures which are there to assess and implement the necessary changes to bounce back. Our management has placed the responsibility squarely on the players so we now have an ODI team which collectively has less ODI experience that individual senior Pakistani players. Only minnows field teams with such gross inexperience because they simply have not played enough. And our reality is that the regional cricket is just not at international standard.