Badree to teach Australians
West Indies cricket, despite the debut Test centuries by young batsman Jermaine Blackwood and fast bowler Jason Holder, the bowling of Jerome Taylor and Devendra Bishoo against England recently, is behind the eight ball, at least where results are concerned.
Their cricketers, barring a few, fall short, very short, of the teams of the 1950s and the 1960s, the 1970s and the 1980s, and especially those of the 1960s and of the 1980s which were lauded as the best in the world.
In those days, West Indians were looked upon in cricket circles like the Chinese in table tennis and the Brazilians in football; they were synonymous with the game.
They were so good that, at the start of their dominance when they won the second Test at Lord's in 1950, Learie Constantine, a former West Indies fast bowler, later Sir Learie, and later still, Lord Constantine, stood up at Lord's and, in response to comments on how easy it was to beat them on their three previous tours of England, said, for all to hear, "this time we come to teach".
And teach they did, beating England 3-1 after losing the first Test.
The West Indies may not be able to teach anyone to play the game at his time, however, not even to play 'Calypso' cricket.
The West Indies, however, may be able to teach others how to bowl, as Samuel Badree is set to do.
In the early days of development, in the days when English school masters walked with text books in one hand and bats in the other, visiting Englishmen taught West Indians how to play cricket, and in later days, visiting West Indians, like Dereif Taylor at Warwickshire and Reggie Scarlett at Haringey Cricket College, joined the list of Englishmen who taught young Englishmen how to play the game, just as Jimmy Adams is now doing at Kent and Otis Gibson is now doing with England.
Australia, however, has now just seen the light and has recently employed Badree, the Trinidad and Tobago and West Indies right-arm leg-spinner, the number one Twenty20 International bowler in the world, to work at its spin camp in Brisbane for one week in May.
Badree, a specialist T20 bowler, is the first West Indian that the Australians have employed, and will work alongside Australia's head spin coach, John Davidson, and with 24 of Australia's young spin bowlers, including Cameron Boyce, just as Australia's Shane Warne and Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitheran have been doing for the past two seasons.
"The knowledge and experience that Sammy Badree can share with our young spinners will be a quality extension to previous programmes," said Pat Howard, Cricket Australia's team performance manager in reports from Australia.
"The spin camp looks to extend the work being done in states and to challenge players on different ways to assess the game and grow personally."
And Badree, who will be making his first visit to Australia, has said: "My great success has been in the shorter version of the game so I hope to impart knowledge based on that. The importance of control when bowling adapting to different conditions, and taking wickets through guile is crucial."
West Indians are no strangers to Australian cricket, not with players like Garry Sobers, Rohan Kanhai, and Wes Hall playing for Australian states in the 1960s, and neither are Australians strangers to West Indies cricket, not with Bobby Simpson doing a stint as a coach in Jamaica in the 1990s, and Bennett King, and John Dyson serving as coaches to the West Indies team recently.
Sonny Ramadhin and Alfred Valentine of the 1950s and 1960s, and Lance Gibbs of the 1960s and 1970s, were great, very great, but apart from those legendary three, the West Indies has produced no one to match the quality and class of Arthur Mailey, Clarrie Grimmett, Bill O' Reilly, Doug Ring, Johnny Gleeson, Jack Iverson, Richie Benaud, and Warne himself, at least not yet.
Simpson, like right-arm leg-spinner Intikhab Alam of Pakistan, who once coached West Indian leg-spinners, was a successful Jamaica coach, and every West Indian wishes Badree well in his endeavour to build on Australia's greatness, and to Australia for breaking the ice and granting him the opportunity.