Many mentally ill on the streets
July 19, 2019
Transmit Christ’s life to be successful ambassadors
July 19, 2019

WHAT NOW, West Indies?

The International Cricket Council’s 2019 Cricket World Cup (CWC) is over. Last week a remarkable, pulsating and dramatic finale took place at the Lord’s Cricket Ground, the recognised home of cricket!

It is unfortunate that either team, England or New Zealand, had to lose the final, a game so full of tension and drama that no one could guess which team would have won until the very last ball.

And even then, neither side won during the 102 overs bowled, but it was left to the scorers to come up with the figure of which side struck the most boundaries during the game. England did so by 20 to 16.

England is the new Cricket World Cup holders for the next four years, an honour that has eluded them for three previous finals, the last being against Pakistan in 1992.

New Zealand is the unlucky loser, having played a splendid game without losing the battle having tied both contests after 102 overs. And the Kiwis have never won the CWC, playing in their second consecutive final which made the closeness of this match even more bizarre!

However, the game was exceptional and had the supporters of both sides anxious, tense and edgy in the closing stages while conversely, players on both teams appeared calm and determined.

As I reflected on this final game of the tournament, I had to compare West Indian players in my analysis. I had to measure our worth or maybe, to put it another way, our weaknesses and strengths.

There’s always a lot of talk by ex-players who, although trying to be helpful, held positions in the administration of WI cricket and failed to provide any development or sustain any quality in players they came across.

The difference is mentality

They’ve been selectors, coaches, mentors etc and there was no improvement. Talk is cheap and experience is golden but unless information can be adequately transmitted to another so that they can understand the teaching then it’s of no use.

The WI team consists of players with ability that could be compared with anyone else. Batsmen like Nicholas Pooran, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Evin Lewis and Darren Bravo can compare favourably with any of the batsmen I’ve seen when it comes to skill; so, I wondered why they failed so many times in the tournament except for Pooran.

I observed Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor of New Zealand; then I observed Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy of England; I realised that they have been successful and helped carry their teams to the final. Yet they do not possess more natural ability than the WI batsmen I have named! What’s the difference? The difference is in their mentality.

The mentality of a cricketer should be one of self-confidence, the will to win, to think and read the game, the presence of mind to assess the pitch and the patience to bat accordingly.

How does one go about achieving these virtues? From the coach and the management team. They are the ones to ensure constant practice for the cricketer to develop the belief that he’s the best, hence a winner. Once this basic requirement is met, the coach gradually builds his player up by letting him know just how good he is and there must be no public criticism even in front of his fellow team members. He should be praised loudly and criticised softly on his own.

For example, when WI played Bangladesh, Hope scored 96 in 121 balls and his captain Jason Holder told the press that Hope batted too slowly. He was the anchor of the innings and WI made 321 for 8 wickets. A good score, and other batsmen were to blame, not Hope.  Other captains make excuses for their players, not criticise them publicly!

Sheldon Cottrell came on well, but WI bowlers were a disappointment overall. Ashley Nurse and Fabian Allen were out of their depth at this level, but I like the all-round skill of Allen and with the right handling he could improve.

The pacers Shannon Gabriel, Kemar Roach and Oshane Thomas were not consistent in their bowling which proves a lack of practice and fitness which was noticeable. The natural ability of our bowlers does not compare with that of the batting.

Holder and Carlos Brathwaite are two of a type and when playing in the same team upset the balance. Andre Russell, although totally unfit for the games is an overrated cricketer and should be sidelined.

Conclusion: WI’s main weakness in ability is in its bowling. The selectors must thank Chris Gayle for his years of service; say goodbye to Nurse; start bringing in youngsters to blood; choose a coach that believes in constant practice in all disciplines, batting, bowling and fielding.

It’s unfair to Hope to wicket-keep in limited overs matches unless he bats lower in the order. The work ethic must be established. The present captain has grown too accustomed to losing; it’s a bad habit to shake!