I am not attempting to take anything away from Ireland, they are a Test-playing nation and deserve respect. But losing an ODI series 2-1 to the Irish is unacceptable. But say what, “we done loss already.. what next then?”. How do move from here? We have England coming in a few days, fresh from a cut tail against Australia and looking to beat up on somebody, oops, beat up on us. Well, we couldn’t beat Ireland so we in trouble.
Can the West Indies get better soon? Sorry to say, no we can’t. We have done nothing in the last 40 years. You see, when Clive Lloyd, sorry, Sir Clive Lloyd was leading an almost invincible team to glory, no one thought about keeping the cupboard populated. We kept on producing. Courtney Walsh came on the scene in 1985, Sir Curtly Ambrose came in 1988, Brian Charles Lara in 1990, we had natural talent back then. We didn’t have anything in place to produce players at a high level, we thought we could have continued to get players from the conveyor belt. But the belt was broken. But back in those days, we were winning, so ‘we good’. Back in those days, playing 5 matches in the regional first class tournament was enough, because we played a lot more first class matches throughout the year. You see, when we go England back in the day, we would play 3 or 4 first class matches before the first test, and between each test, we would play one or two more first class matches. So the fringe players, who would not make the Test XI, the players who would wait and wait for a test match, would play about 7 or 8 matches on tour, gathering a lot of experience. A Test series in England or a tour to England would have taken 3 months. When England come here, the regional players would get to play against them, when England play Barbados, Jamaica etc. But that was a long time ago. Now with more teams playing tests, more test series playing, and now every country wants to have its own franchise league, the cricket calendar is too congested and now, you have to be in and out of a country in a month to 6 weeks. There is only 1 first class warm up match and then 4 back to back to back to back tests.
Worst yet, because of the congested international schedule, our leading players (and i am using the word ‘leading’ loosely) are not playing in the regional first class matches because they are on international duty. What does that mean? It means that our first class players are not playing against the top players in the region. What does that mean? It means that a bowler could take 40 wickets in a season, and he may appear to be good, but he didn’t bowl to Kraigg Brathwaithe, he didn’t bowl to Darren Bravo or Shai Hope. 40 wickets against batsmen who can’t bat is not an achievement. Now if the players and the CWI had a better working relationship, and if players got a better incentive, maybe more money, we could have players playing in the regional first class matches instead of running down every T20 league outside. Let’s face it, T20 franchise cricket is not helping players’ development. Imagine at the last T20 World Cup, West Indies among the Test playing teams, had the most ‘T20 specialist’ players (only 2 current test players, Holder and Chase) while other teams had ‘Test players’ in their teams and we looked the worst out of all them. That making any sense? Australia’s T20 bowling attack is the same as their Test bowling attack. But our administration wants to be friends with the players. You can’t be the boss and a friend at the same time. It can’t work.
You see me? I already accept the fact that this is the norm for the next 20 years. We are just not good. The best thing to do is start from the primary school level. We have a way we like to put our best coaches at senior level. But that will not work. It is not Simmons job to teach bowlers how to bowl or teach batsmen how to bat. They should know that already. How you got selected to play for West Indies and don’t know when to play front and when to play back. How you got selected to play for West Indies and can’t hold a proper line and length? Remember the Lloyd and Richards teams had no coach. Our best coaches, our best resources should be at primary school age level. When a player learns the wrong thing from small, practices the wrong thing throughout his career, it will become second nature and no amount of coaching at senior level could fix that. It happens in all sports. Leo Beenhakker, coach of Trinidad and Tobago 2006 World Cup team had this problem too.
So go back to the primary school level, the 5 year olds, get the best coaches there. Let them learn the proper thing. By the time they reach 19 in the next 14 years, we have a good Under 19 team, then they will graduate to proper first class and test players. We have to forget the current crop. And yes, ban them from T20 at a young age.