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‘Reds’ and McWatt: WI must overhaul white-ball teams, starting with captain, coaches and selectors

“[…] The win-loss results of the Phil Simmons-led coaching staff also suggest they should be immediately replaced. Of the 36 T20 International matches played since Simmons’ October 2019 reinstatement as head coach, West Indies won 14 and lost 17 while five ended as no results! 

“[…] Our replacement suggestions would be a coaching unit comprised of Desmond Haynes (head coach), Ronnie Sarwan (batting), Larry Gomes (assistant batting), Franklyn Stephenson (bowling), Samuel Badree (assistant spin bowling) and Gus Logie (fielding)…”

Veteran West Indies cricket commentator ‘Reds’ Perreira and Toronto-based Canadian Cricket’s media relations manager Tony McWatt call for sweeping changes in the wake of West Indies’ poor performances at the 2021 ICC T20 World Cup:

Photo: West Indies captain Kieron Pollard (right) and veteran Chris Gayle have a chat during a 2021 T20 World Cup fixture.
(via Gulf News)

One of the English dictionary’s definitions of the word reform isto amend or improve by change of form or removal of faults’. As a result of the West Indies’ calamitous performance in the ICC 2021 T20 World Cup, the need for a radical and total reform of our white-ball cricket has now become undeniably apparent. 

The disastrous net effect of the West Indies’ woeful showing was its status transformation from defending champions to next year’s 2022 tournament qualifiers, which is just the latest episode of a long-running saga. 

The forthcoming 2023 ICC 50 Over World Cup will mark 44 years since the West Indies were last crowned as that tournament’s champions and 40 years since their appearance in a final.

Cricket West Indies (CWI) needs only to look as far as the English Cricket Board (ECB) for an example of the potential positive effects of reform. Regarded as the 2015 World Cup favourite, England were instead thrashed by Australia, New Zealand, and Bangladesh en route to an ignominious preliminary round exit.

Photo: England bowler Ben Stokes (centre) slumps after West Indies batsman Carlos Brathwaite (left) hit him for four successive sixes in the last over of the 2016 ICC T20 World Cup to hand West Indies the title at The Eden Gardens Stadium in Kolkata, India.

The ECB in response conducted a comprehensive overhaul of its white-ball cricket, including the appointment of a new captain and coaching team and the establishment of a reconstructed squad of 20 centrally-contracted white-ball players. 

The results since then speak for themselves. England won the 2019 50 Over World Cup and after playing unbeaten during the preliminary Super Six round were narrowly defeated by New Zealand in the semi-finals of this year’s T20 World Cup.  

Instead of embracing the necessity of emulating such progressive change, CWI disappointingly took a step backward with the recent extension of the Roger Harper-led selection panel for a further three months.

The net effect of which is that, despite their repeatedly demonstrated incompetencies, Messrs Harper and Co will now oversee squad selection for the forthcoming T20 Series against Pakistan and England! 

Photo: Cricket West Indies (CWI) lead selector Roger Harper.

Despite CWI’s apparent reluctance, the replacement of Harper and his selection panel must be seen as a prerequisite of the required reform. The actual composition of the panel should also be increased to five members plus a chairman, as an approximation to how it used to be when the West Indies dominated international cricket. 

Our suggestion would be for a panel headed by Jeffrey Dujon and comprised of former players such as Kenny Benjamin, Tony Gray, Lockhart Sebastian, and Philo Wallace, with the captain as the sixth member.

Nicholas Pooran should also replace Kieron Pollard as captain for the forthcoming white-ball series against Pakistan and England. Pollard’s unsatisfactory results, both as a player and as captain, fully justify his immediate replacement. 

Pollard has scored 1,468 runs at an average of 24.46 per innings in his 93 T20 International West Indies appearances. His West Indies ODI stats are 2,633 runs scored at a 26.99 average from 119 matches. 

Pollard’s record to date as West Indies T20 captain is 10 wins, 15 losses and five no results in 30 matches. His ODI captaincy stats are 10 wins and six losses. 

Photo: West Indies captain Kieron Pollard (right) and pacer Ravi Rampaul exchange ideas during 2021 T20 World Cup action.

Seven of Pollard’s 10 T20 wins as captain have, however, come against low-ranked teams such as Afghanistan, Ireland, and Sri Lanka. Much the same can also be said for his ODI captaincy wins—only two of which have been against top-ranked teams.  

The win-loss results of the Phil Simmons-led coaching staff also suggest they should be immediately replaced. Of the 36 T20 International matches played since Simmons’ October 2019 reinstatement as head coach, West Indies won 14 and lost 17 while five ended as no results! 

Simmon’s ODI record as head coach during the same period is four wins and two losses from six matches played. Not unlike Pollard, the majority of Simmons’ wins in both T20’s and ODI have come against low-ranked teams, while the losses were against teams within the top five of the ICC’s rankings.

Our replacement suggestions would be a coaching unit comprised of Desmond Haynes (head coach), Ronnie Sarwan (batting), Larry Gomes (assistant batting), Franklyn Stephenson (bowling), Samuel Badree (assistant spin bowling) and Gus Logie (fielding).

Photo: West Indies coach Phil Simmons.
(via CWI Media)

Radical improvements in the West Indies squad’s fitness standards across all formats are also required. As such the coaching staff must also be supported by a Dennis Waight no-nonsense type physio. 

There must also be a uniform required fitness level standard for all players with absolutely no special exemptions for anyone. Either you are satisfactorily fit and fully eligible for selection or you aren’t—and hence not worthy of consideration for selection!

India utilised Mahendra Dhoni as a mentor during this year’s T20 World Cup. We would suggest similar roles for former players such as Sir Curtly Ambrose, Ian Bradshaw, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Brian Lara as part of the West Indies’ preparation for the 2022 T20 and 2023 50 Over World Cups. 

Joel Garner’s indisputable qualifications as one of the most effective bowlers international limited over cricket has ever seen warrants his return as the West Indies team manager. Meaningful roles must also be found for the likes of Sir Andy Roberts and Deryck Murray.

Photo: West Indies batsman Jermaine Blackwood (left) got his first Test cap from cricket legend Brian Lara in 2014.
(via WICB Media/Randy Brooks)

Progression from qualifiers, beyond the Super Six phase and into the semi-finals should now be West Indies’ established minimum achievement goal for next year’s 2022 T20 World Cup. Likewise reaching the final, after failing to do so since 1983, must now be the minimum goal for the 2023 World Cup.

In order to achieve either or both of the above, West Indies must also revamp its entire playing approach to white-ball cricket. There should be no more ultra reliance on power-hitting, but instead the adoption of continuous strike rotation towards significantly decreasing the number of dot balls faced. Sharp singles should be taken at every opportunity, with the conversion of ones into twos and the latter into threes. 

There must also be specifically established roles for every player. For each and every match played, someone within the batting lineup must also stick their hand up as the person who will act as the innings’ stabiliser—batting through the majority of the overs and rotating the strike, while the established power hitters go after the bowling from the other end. 

The weaknesses of opposition batsmen must be identified and fully exploited. Their strengths must also be nullified. The lines and lengths of every bowler must be immaculate. No balls and wides should be regarded as cardinal sins committed!

Photo: West Indies pacer Obed McCoy.
(via CWI Media)

The bowlers must also be supported by fitness-influenced fielding of the highest order—every catch and half chance taken, every run-out opportunity fully grasped through significantly increased throwing accuracy.

Radical reforms now urgently required indeed! Out with the old; in with the new!

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6 comments

  1. To think players can reach the pinnacle (captaincy) of W.I. cricket with suspect techniques says a lot about how we set up these guys for Intl failure and raise many questions about the state of cricket coaching in the Caribbean. More effort should be made to get guys who tasted success in their careers to be part of the selection panel and into roles that place them in direct contact with players so that knowledge/experience can rub off on them.

  2. Brian Lara must be kept far away from West Indies cricket!

  3. Even before the team leave the Caribbean for the World T20 I had been saying the very thing.Allowing those involved in the debacle to waltz on through life unscathed is an atrocity the disparate islands cannot bear.

    • We are behaving as if the other teams are Walk overs.
      We will never succeed as a region with this type of dismissal attitude.
      It just happened that the other teams executed better in those days. It wouldn’t of made any difference with other players.
      The problem is not the selection panel neither the captain, it is in the structure. We had a proper cricket academy in Grenada but because of insularity it was forced out of Grenada.
      Unless those voices that was not any major achievers shut up and allow the system to work, we will not be successful. Players discipline in the region poor, which is of serious concern.
      We don’t have any major tournament in the Caribbean where we can have a continuous pull of players.
      India and England was the favorite to win the World Cup. Look what happened to them.
      But you don’t hear anyone calling for firing of selection committee and captain.

      • Earl Best

        Ah! A voice of reason at last!
        “‘Michael shoulda left long time,’ I heard an angry brother shout./Caribbean people, dat, dat, dat is the root of our troubles…(David Rudder in “Rally.”

      • I am afraid I fall into that category of not being a ‘major achiever’ (hopefully the reference was restricted to cricket only.) The terms structure and system seem abstract maybe non-existent and irrelevant if you consider the overall performances of the team (over the last five years or more across all formats. There were flashes of brilliance during those years but for the large part inconsistency and simply under-performance has been the hallmark of the teams. So this begs the question, what structure/system we are talking about here? Ref England/India…. I am certain these Post Mortem are ungoing and where necessary changes for the benefit of the game in those countries will be made.