An Open Letter on WI Cricket and Selection of Players
"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results." It would be presumptuous on my part to expect things to change, if the Agents of the mistakes remain in their positions. However, as a lover of West Indies cricket and an ardent supporter of the WI cricket teams, no matter who is on the teams and how they are doing, I feel compelled to appeal to the WICB and the Selection Panel to wake up and start "thinking outside of the Box".
As the first initiative in getting the WI cricket team (men) back to its winning ways, it is important that the WICB leadership and the Selection Panel understand that WI cricket is not about them and the lost for power and influence; that WI cricket is about the cricketers, the West Indies people, about cricket lovers throughout the world, about the West Indian culture, the legacy of its cricket and of our proud people.
An infinite programme of grooming young cricketers with talent is not a motivation to succeed. There is no greater motivator to young sportsmen than putting them to play alongside seasoned players in a winning team. A perpetual cycle of grooming in a losing team is not the answer. The young players will get older too "in a losing team" and others will replace them "In a losing team; never to taste the thrill and pride of success.
If we have a desire to see spectators all over the world fill stadiums again to look at WI play any and every form of cricket; if we want to see WI cricket return to its glory days in 2 to 3 years, with tangible results starting immediately, I submit that the following must absolutely be taken on board.
WICB needs to appoint a Strategic Motivator / General Team Manager with qualifications in HR Management/Administrative Management/Motivation Skills. This person must lead the management and coaching staff.
Select a first string team (Team-1) of players with the attitude, ability, motivation, confidence and winning spirit and put them on contract. Give them a clear mandate and ask them to commit the next 3 years to get the WI (men) cricket team to the number 1 ranking.
Select a second string team (Team-2) that will be expected to take over the reins from those in Team-1 who may decide to call it a day or who may not have performed over the 3 years or who during that period may be injured. The players will have the peace of mind of being "on the Team" not "on trial" and that will provide Team unity and stability.
Players selected must have a judicious mix of form, winning reputation in any of the 3 formats and trainability. In the present state of West Indies cricket, we can ill-afford good players retiring or being forced out at 29, 30, 31, 32 for younger players who have performed in just one season. By contrast, stronger teams like Australia, England, South Africa, New Zealand are playing players at the age of 27, 29 and 35 for the first time and they are contributing to the Teams winning culture. Based on this logic, Darren Sammy and Dwayne Bravo should be persuaded to make themselves available again for Test selection. That would show maturity and a sense of seriousness. WI record over the past 15 years will justify my above recommendation. How can we be satisfied; how can we expect WI to start winning again when most of our top players, including our openers are playing fast and spin bowling with no use of their feet; they cannot rotate strike; cannot run between wickets; who cannot play fast short pitch bowling and in many cases cannot even play forward defensive to six consecutive balls. Look at the LBW record of our batsmen while attempting to play forward defensive- atrocious.
On every tour, the WICB should arrange and meet the cost of 5 additional players on Team-2 to travel with Team-1. These players will learn both the cricket skills and etiquette needed to build their confidence and may be used as replacement for any injured players.
These 5 would be alternated to ensure that all members of Team-2 get opportunities to travel with the squad from Team-1.
We should not follow the ill-advised example of other nations by pigeon-holing our players. There should not be distinction between test, one day and T20 teams. Teams should be selected based on the opposition and the types of wickets on which the team is playing. I will wager anyone that a WI team could have been selected that would have won the recent Australia Christmas series. The selectors failed the West Indies people miserably by holding on to a losing selection policy.
There should be one captain for all 3 formats and similarly one vice-captain. Let us remove the elements of insularity and division in WI cricket. Darren Sammy should be the Captain and Jayson Holder the Vice-Captain. If Holder takes over after 3 years, he will become a top all-rounder and a brilliant captain. Leave him where he is now and WI cricket will lose him in a year or 2- his confidence is already wading because of the losses and he is even scared to set fields or make bowling changes that could make him win… the winning culture is absent.
Darren Sammy- Captain (All 3 versions)
Jayson Holder- vice Captain (All 3 versions)
Darren Bravo, Dwayne Bravo, Kiron Pollard, Devon Smith Johnson Charles, Kraig Brathwaite, Tyron Theophile, Fidel Edwards, Evans Lewis, Dennish Ramdin, Kamar Roach, Carlos Brathwaite, Shane Shillingford, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuel, Kieron Powell, Sunil Narine, Jermaine Blackwood, Lendl Simmons, Jerome Taylor, Andre Russell, Devendra Bishoo, Dwayne Smith, Shannon Gabriel, Samuel Badree, Suleiman Benn.
Leon Johnson, Shane Dowrich ,Chesney Hughes, Jermel Warrican, Shia Hope, Mervin Mathew, Kyle Hope, Delon Johnson, Ransford Beaton, Orlando Peters, Joachin Cornwall , Kaven Hodge, Narseen Denrine, Jonathan Carter, Rayon Emrate, Sheldon Cottrell, Miguel Cummings, Assad Fudadin, Rajendra Chandrika.
Finally, what could be the reason why the two greatest batsmen who ever played the game, Viv Richards and Brian Lara not be integrally involved in guiding and motivating our current crop of batsmen? Their skill and equally important, their confidence / arrogance (some may wish to say) are elements which WI cricket now need to be successful, to win.
You now have the opportunity to put it right. Your actions from this point will be your legacy. History will judge your actions or inaction.
Peter Azille, Sr.