Moral rearmament required by West Indies
After his failure to obtain the captaincy to the West Indies team in succession to Sir Frank Worrell the late Sir Conrad Hunte was said to have delved into what was termed moral rearmament. Unfortunately Hunte passed away not too long thereafter and we are sadly without the shining light his philosophy may have afforded us in regard to potential for buttressing our cricket as a possible permanent force in both the regional and international spheres. Conrad Hunte played 44 Test matches for West Indies in which he scored 3245 runs at an average of just over 45 runs per innings, with 8 centuries and a top score of 260 in which he was runout batting with Sir Gary Sobers who was enroute to his then world record score of 365 not out against Pakistan in 1958.
Hunte went on to factor as the main pillar at the start of the innings for West Indies and was a main contributor to the forward movement in the Worrell captaincy era. The stabilizing influence of Hunte's character is something one might think to be missing in our cricket at the present moment – when we do not lack talent but somehow fall short in the ingredient of the true essence of personality.
I was impelled to thus put pen to paper in light of very recent comments by Lendl Simmons and André Russell, two undoubtedly vibrant batsmen whose outlook precludes their willingness to appear for West Indies in Test matches. Simmons, it would appear, turns up his nose at prospect of "three days in the sun" for the type of remuneration a Test match entails. Russell's thesis rested upon wear and tear upon his bodily constitution- meaning he needs a days rest to mend his physique after a day of exertion.
We are told that West Indies Test players are among the very best paid in the world - alongside Australia, England and India. The long and short of this is players from these countries harbour little or no resentment at playing Test cricket for their country, in addition to appearing in the shorter versions of the game. Just for the sake of argument, I wonder to what extent either of our two hopefuls would baulk at the prospect of playing one day matches on consecutive days if the money is right! My conjecture suggests Simmons as quite willing to accept multiple days of sunburn and Russell to shoulder added doses of physical groans over mounting joint pains.
Let us look at parts of the current West Indies Test team composition. In this regard Simmons would link with Kraigg Brathwaite in hope of arriving at a useful opening pair. Or at least a far less than doubtful combination at the top of the order. Samuels, as the surviving senior citizen in absence of Chanderpaul, could move up to No 3 in view of Darren Bravo's too frequent demise. Barnwell may slot in at No 4, Ramdin at No 5, Holder at No 6 followed by Russell at No 7.
Russell stands to bolster the lower batting order in addition to shoring up both the bowling and the fielding. Similarly, Simmons' useful strengthening of the fielding, whatever the situation of the game. Such alteration in the side allows for another young batsman or two to be allowed due exposure without critically creating unwanted imbalance to the team structure.
If there is difficulty with a concept of this kind it is time for more radical experiment with the need for potent psychological departures. Staying within the region, let us consider what a former player like Jimmy Adams could potentially render towards uplifting of the spirit within the West Indies team. In the short time with the team Adams captained the side and scored six centuries in his Test career aggregate of 3012 runs at an average of over 41 runs per innings. We should note he was undefeated in four of his six centuries. I propose Jimmy Adams as a mentor for the team because of his educational bearing. He sported a large bundle of G.C.E passes and was odds on to study medicine before acceding to the call of cricket as a vocation.
Even more directly aligning to the needs of the West Indies is the fact that Adams was consistently moved by an overwhelming commitment to the needs of the team in the middle order – an area we need to have a strong external figure to boost wilting mentality.
On a premise that Adams may be unavailable now would be the time for West Indies to seek to attract someone like Kumar Sangakkara. This gentleman is a lawyer by profession, but who found time to serve Sri Lanka with a highly productive bat weighted with double centuries. He is somewhat at the end of an illustrious career and may be of much needed influence in moulding a young West Indies side towards adopting the right outlook of national pride.
There is every concurrence with the board's encouragement of players past and present to engage each other in fraternal golfing events. This is very good from the social angle. However, given the prevailing weaknesses in our cricket, I would be happy at seeing the brains of Sir Everton Weekes being picked towards pushing our young batsmen to mobilizing to equal the great man's record of five consecutive centuries in Test innings. Getting halfway would be highly laudable indeed! Then, too, the wisdom he would dispense as to how he corralled his mental focus towards compiling scores like his 194 against India, 207 against India, 206 against England and 197 against Pakistan among his 15 Test centuries in less than ten years should be more than likely to ignite much fire into the enthusiasm of our young players.
Of course, Weekes is now past 90 years of age, but he should be paid much for his valuable consultancy, and the players should be limited to pay on productivity – even though a sunburn clause is included in the contract. It may be that the absence of full houses does nothing to fully overturn the benefits of television pay per view. Still, bigger crowds would help strike a bigger bargaining proposition for the West Indies board.