The Absolute Worry About Windwards Cricket
One very simple dictionary gives the meaning of integrity as "moral excellence; honesty", and also "wholeness, sacredness". These meanings are followed in short order by the word "intellect" for which the following is given: faculty of reasoning, knowing and thinking; understanding; clever or knowledgeable person! All this must be completely alien to the Windward's Cricket Team both as a unit and from the individual angle! Simply, these concepts are totally lost on the sub-regional unit. The element of pride goes missing, particularly as lame consolation is taken in view of the Leeward Islands appearing to be just as bad or even worse! What crippled mentality!
Windwards, for whom the appellation "LOSEWARDS" has to be thoroughly fitting, lost all three of their matches in the Caribbean limited overs (50 overs) tournament. We lost to Jamaica, then to Guyana and then to Ireland , all three matches played in Trinidad. It was not so bad that we chalked up a one hundred percent record in defeats, but the clear fact was that in each case the prospect of our winning was clear and inviting. Then, too, our position as defending champions reveals our performance as supremely damnable.
My concern address the salient consideration of preparing for a tournament. With the first match bowling off on 30th January, there needed to be at least two whole months of solid practice. Thus, with Christmas and New Year festivities featuring in the equation, the Windwards Team should have factored in a commencement from as early as 1st December. Anything else is Carnival or ole mas!
Taking a cursory glance at some of the team preparation engaged in by Trinidad and Tobago, there loomed the headline "T&T PLAYERS HIT CLASSROOM". One speaker touched on the topic: "Competence of the stars " which embraced the sub-topics. "effective communication", "emotional competence", "emotional intelligence", "goal getting", "motivational strategies", " the importance of representing ones country," "sportsmanship" and "game spirit". That was prescription for the most successful team in one day cricket in the Caribbean.
The Trinidad players were reported to have attended fully and taken the discussions with absolute seriousness.
There remains every place for such sessions in team preparation, whether it be Dominica, Windwards or West Indies Teams being afforded due preparation for each and any engagement or series of engagements. However, it is important to superimpose such theoretical sessions upon earlier devotion to fitness training of a superior order. Essentially, without the body, the brain can't function.
As I saw it, players on the Windwards Team appeared unfit– physically and mentally– to defend their title. Some match commentators actually talked about several of them carrying a measure of Christmas fat. This points to a monstrous absurdity in the light of a Caribbean Premier League standing on the cards for introduction later this year. Any form of professional Cricket League ought to be predicated on a seriously professional approach to team preparation. If this is not the case, we are merely wasting our time and holding out disrespect to the public (regional and international) and to the good sponsors!
May I offer sincere suggestion that the preparation of the Windwards team be put in the hands of a highly capable individual and this be supplemented by a fully appointed interim captain in the absence of the substantive captain. I can hear the early excuse of not having money to meet related expenses. This is not overriding . The electricity boards of each sister territory should be able to invest in the sub-regional team. Then, alternatively the territorial lotteries can foot the bill, if not, the national banks, or a combination of all and sundry.
Everything should be tailored to the attainment of fullest competence , physically, technically and spiritually. The focus needs to rivet onto serious relevant considerations. These would throw comprehensive light on player weaknesses and strengths, both of that within the team and opposing teams, using the facility of video recordings and exhaustive insights.
Those who hide behind the sweeping assertion that the ideal approach should avoid over analysis ought to be silenced by the clear understanding that our players have not dipped their toes in any meaningful cricket development programs at any time whatever.
Let's stiffen up and ask them to be positive and project their capacities and capabilities towards filling all the places on the West Indies teams. In this guise we accept no enshrinement of weaknesses based on inferior mentality and failure to shoulder the patent responsibility of preparing our team adequately and with due competence. A century scored by Lesporis is indication that much more good can be cultivated in the Windwards team.
It is time to set worthwhile targets for our players based on progressive development and above all, let them be left in no doubt whatever as to what we will accept from them when they represent us. If necessary, let us provide the wherewithal of concrete pitches, covered pitches, gymnasia, floodlights, etc for practice. Without doubt, cut out the nonsense. Dominica must start pulling its weight, for when we were better, Windwards were much better.
(Reginald St. Havis Shillingford is a Sports Analyst and Commentator)