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Sports by Bryan Davis, former West Indies Test cricketer

The fortunes of West Indian cricket and that of the Trinidad & Tobago team are inter-locked.  Both are getting so accustomed to losing that they are now satisfied with it.  So much so that the coaches, managers and administrators are running out of excuses!

The silence after the West Indies defeat by New Zealand in the Cricket World Cup (CWC) quarter final and the loss by T&T in the last game of the four-day competition against the Leewards, is deafening.  No reasons are being put forward as to why our Caribbean cricketers have reached this state!

The chairman of the WI selectors, Clive Lloyd, believes that the WI team just need to play to their potential in order to do well.  Quite often, captains and coaches make this statement when they know their side is no good.  It’s usually an assertion behind which to hide and then hope for the best!

Sir Richie Richardson made some ridiculous remarks as team manager before the tournament, after the WI lost a warm-up match against England. They were bowled out for 122 while their opponents reached the target in less than 23 overs, losing just one wicket in the process.

Sir Richie: “Not a very good start but it’s not about the start it’s about the finish…Tonight is no reflection of how we have been training or anything to do with the mood in the camp.  It was just very strange that England got the better of us in that particular way.”

He is talking about a team that is about to enter the rigours of competition on the international stage!  He does not recognise that the start for the World Cup should have been a year earlier.  The team’s training is judged by their performance and if it does not reflect the mood in the camp then the players must be lackadaisical and half-hearted off the field!  Next he says that it’s strange, etc.  I can’t for the life of me imagine what the manager was trying to convey in this statement.

The point I’m trying to bring home here is that the absence of proper analysis by the manager before the first ball was bowled in the CWC resulted in a total lack of knowledge of the players and their ability, and an inability to read cricketers and cricket games in particular.  And this is the West Indies Cricket Board’s choice of manager!

There was no official coach of the team and Stuart Williams, the batting coach, and Sir Curtly Ambrose (bowling) tried their best to fill the void.

Lloyd was present at the games, probably waiting for the WI team to play to their potential. I wish I had the time and space to list all the foolish declarations of Lloyd before the CWC, from the selection of the team to his predictions!

He chose to embarrass a promising young cricketer by selecting him to lead the WI to South Africa in the ODIs and then to the CWC where the audience is in the millions.  All this could only have ended with Jason Holder developing an inferiority complex, changing his nature from bright, enthusiastic and effervescent to one of uncertainty, hesitation and disbelief.

Good timing of changes is vital in cricket and just as it was not right to change leadership that close to a crucial international tournament, so it was also bad timing to leave out Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard, two cricketers who – though they might not have secured a WI win or better performance in the series – would have spurred the team to play with more enthusiasm and higher morale.  These two would most certainly have lifted the spirit of the side so that the West Indian cricketers would at least have looked sharper in the field, with no slumping of shoulders or sulking as was so evident.

After the WI’s awful decline in performance, results and aptitude it would be interesting to see what changes, if any, the WICB effects.  The hiring of Phil Simmons is a plus although if he has to work with the same selectors, Director of Cricket and manager and if he’s not allowed autonomy, it will be the same old story!

T&T’s cricketers won two matches out of ten in the novel regional four-day franchise competition.  The fresh format allowed for home and away games; T&T lost four at home, two away and won in Antigua and Jamaica – a dismal performance.  Yet we, the public, have not heard as yet from the administrators of cricket, the T&TCB, as to the reasons behind such poor performances. Was it bad management, inadequate preparation, inept coaching?

The T&TCB is accountable and must therefore help the cricket fan understand what happened.  If we’re just not good enough then what is being done to change that?