Cricket West Indies – Testing Phase

Cricket West Indies (CWI) recently made some significant appointments that us fans hope is a step in the right direction.

First, Phil Simmons is back as head coach of the men’s senior team, 3 years after getting his marching orders by then CWI president, Dave Cameron.

CWI also appointed Roger Harper as the chief selector of the men’s team. Miles Bascombe (Windward Islands) has been chosen as  Harper’s deputy. Given Bascombe was part of the task force mandated to head-hunt new selectors, his appointment looks tacky.

The selectors have picked the 3 male squads (T20, ODI, Tests) that will tour India this month to play the host and Afghanistan whose previous head coach was Simmons.

Gus Logie is the new interim coach of the West Indies women’s team. Courtney Walsh will support Gus as bowling coach. Lead selector of the West Indies women’s & girls’ panel will be Ann Browne-John (Trinidad & Tobago) supported by Guyana’s Travis Dowlin

Phil Simmons 

Simmons’ reappointment comes as no surprise. Ricky Skerritt – newly appointed president of CWI – campaigned strongly on a belief that the head coach of the West Indies should always be West Indian. Such narrow-minded thinking is dangerous when running a professional body where success is measured on results.

During his campaign for the presidency of CWI Skerritt did not hide his disgust at how  Simmons was treated by Cameron. Simmons was clearly Skerritt’s preferred choice; which made the whole recruitment process look like a sham.

Skerritt must know that part of England’s rise to be a power house in modern men’s cricket happened under the management by 3 non-English coaches: Duncan Fletcher and Andy Flower (Zimbabwean) as well as Trevor Bayliss (Australian).

In fact Jamaica’s Jimmy Adams – current West Indies Director of Cricket – earned his glowing reputation thanks to his time in England coaching Kent from 2012-2016.

Non- West Indian coaches that CWI could have also considered for the post include Mike Hesson (New Zealand), Mickey Arthur (South Africa/Australia), Tom Moody (Australia), David Ripley (England) and Johan Botha (South Africa).

I wish Simmo well.

New Era = New Squads

The various West Indian men’s squads to tour India/Afghanistan (starting tomorrow) makes for interesting reading.

  • Delighted that Brandon King has made the ODI and T20 squads. King should have made the test squad as well.
  • Kraigg Brathwaite is lucky to be in the test squad given his batting form has been woeful.
  • Sad to see Oshane Thomas has been left out completely. But he has played a lot of cricket in his short international career and looked rather haggard in the recent CPL.
  • Move on from Sunil Narine. He has shown little interest in playing for the West Indies for every excuse he can find. You never hear of top players from other nations constantly opting out from playing for their countries – unless for security reasons.
  • Hayden Walsh Jr’s stock has grown since getting his chance with the Barbados Tridents in the recently concluded CPL. His selection half way through the CPL proved the turning point for the eventual champions Tridents. Walsh jr’s selection to the white ball Windies squads was a close shave, given he was on the verge of playing cricket for the US; which only fell through due to some contractual issues.
  • Shimron Hetmeyer needs to stop throwing his wicket away with unforced errors and settle down.
  • The selectors were right to remove Jason Holder as captain of the white-ball squads. But I would have gone for young Nicholas Pooran instead of 32 year old Kieron Pollard with a view to the 2023 ICC World Cup.

I hope Simmons will give priority to developing the test side over the white-ball versions. Simmons has to pressure the Caribbean grounds staff to develop better pitches for the red-ball format that is fair equally to the batsmen and fast bowlers.

CWI Women  – Give Them a Break

West Indian fans will have to go easy in expecting too much from the women’s senior team. They are going through a development phase which will take time to reap consistent success.

But West Indies women’s cricket faces an uphill struggle to match the investments by top teams such as India, England and Australia.

  • English Cricket Board (ECB) announced an initial £20m of funding over “the next two years will allow 40 full-time professional, domestic contracts to be handed out in addition to the existing 21 England women centrally contracted players.” The long term aim is to invest £50m over five years.
  • Cricket Australia has long set the standard in invested millions into local women’s cricket and the results are showing with the quality and depth of the players coming through. For the 2020 T20 world cup Cricket Australia has promised to top up any prize money won by their women’s team to match the men’s version. In 2017 total female payments were raised from $7.5 million to $55.2 million, with the minimum retainer for an Australian representative sitting at $72,076 and expected to rise to over $87,000 in 2022.
  • The top Indian female cricket stars earn roughly $US72K upwards. (It is common knowledge that few top West Indian women earn way below what their Indian counterparts earn)

CWI will have to show levels of creative thinking in order to stay competitive on a consistent basis. Whoever saw Friday’s exciting the women’s ODI victory over India must have felt encouraged. Crowd turn out in Antigua was terrific. India leveled the series 1-1 on Sunday.

Stefanie Taylor is a local treasure. The fans, corporate Caribbean and CWI need to remember that and reward her brilliance accordingly.

Scouting Mission

Robert Haynes has been appointed Talent ID Manager for the boys panel. In other words scouting. I just hope Haynes’ scouting remit stretches to the UK and other places where the West Indian diaspora is involved in local cricket. Especially on the women’s side.

Given the levels investment going in to both male and female cricket by the ECB there is bound to be youngsters from the Afro-Caribbean community who will get involved.

Another reason for England’s resurgence in international cricket over the past 2 decades was their scouting programme which included spotting talent in the Caribbean, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand and transforming some in to solid players – for England’s benefit.

Mental Health Matters

Going forward CWI has to make the issue of mental health a key priority. CWI needs set up a pool of sports psychologists to assist the players at all levels. Mental health is so crucial in today’s fast moving and high profile sporting world. Such holistic expertise is paramount to help structure the players thoughts (e.g. visualisation), handle their emotions and manage expectations in a measured way.

Despite being a team sport we have seen the mental toll cricket has had on some players. This was well documented by England’s Marcus Trescothick who found it difficult tour overseas. Former England players such as Graham Thorpe, Graham Hick, Mark Ramprakash  and Steve Harmison have spoken about their own mental health challenges when playing for England.

We learnt last week of Australia’s Glenn Maxwell’s decision to take a break from cricket due to mental health issues.

We have to accept that sometimes a player going through a rough patch may have little to do with any on-the-field issue.

I still feel that mental health for West Indian sports men and women is still an issue not discussed openly within our community or in the media. It would help if some our former top players spoke candidly about their own mental challenges when representing the West Indies. e.g. Did the criticisms from the media affect them personally. How did such criticism impact on their immediate family’s welfare?

I wish the new squads and coaching staff well and let’s rally round the West Indies!

About africanherbsman1967

Ideas Man
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