Tue | Aug 22, 2017

Follow the Trace: Under-19s were perfectly prepared

Published:Tuesday | February 23, 2016 | 2:00 AM

Not very often in recent times have we had credible cause to heap praises on the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB). The success of the Under-19 team presents us with one such precious moment.

Conversely, the splintered criticisms of the board, pointing to the inadequacy of preparation of the triumphant team, seems spurious, irrational and lacking credibility.

Since the objective of preparing any sporting team for competition is for that team to be victorious, in the advent that the team is victorious, there can be no guarantees that having prepared the team differently the team would still have been victorious.

It is by that general principle that these particular criticisms of the WICB should be rubbished.

If the WICB and the coaching staff had it to do all over again with the same set of players, it would be foolhardy for them to do anything significantly different.

The WICB president, Mr Dave Cameron, speaking on the arrival of the three Jamaican players in the squad, quite rightly took credit for the part the board played in the selection and preparation of the team.

Mr Cameron pointed to the fact that at least five members of the team are already playing professionally and that the core of the team was selected as far back as 2014 and actually competed in the regional 50-over competition in the very same year.

REGULAR TRAINING CAMPS

Subsequent to that, there were regular training camps leading into the tournament, with the preparation culminating in a three-match warm-up series against the host nation of the tournament, Bangladesh.

The genesis of these criticisms, I suspect, emanated from the relatively sparse number of warm-up games the team played leading into the World Cup compared top teams such as India, who played consistently together for two years and were unbeaten coming into the tournament. Bangladesh, we were told, played closer to a dozen warm-up games and were red hot early in the tournament, as were the Indians.

The West Indies emphatically destroyed the myth of perfection that relates to the preparation of both India and Bangladesh by beating both when it mattered most. It is, therefore, quite plausible that the West Indies' preparations were better than that of both Bangladesh and India.

The West Indies team was the sharpest team mentally in the tournament, as evidenced by those two huge tournament changing moments, starting with that crucial run out against Zimbabwe, followed by the big stumping of the Indian star batsman in the final.

SHARP, TALENTED

Not only were they sharp mentally, they are talented, they were motivated and they appeared to get fitter and sharper as the tournament progressed, while the more fancied teams, with their so-called superior preparation, faded and fizzed at the business end of the tournament.

The silly assumption being made is that because India and Bangladesh played 20 or 30 warm-up games between them they were better prepared. That is obviously not necessarily so.

There is always the risk of overworking and burning out the players, plus there are cultural differences that must be considered.

West Indians are naturally stronger and more natural athletes and perhaps need less physical drilling and more psychological work. The success of this West Indies team might very well serve to redefine the way teams at this level are prepared for competition, with less physical and game sessions and more mental and psychological preparedness.

The victorious players, coaching staff, as well as the WICB leadership should all be congratulated for executing plans and preparations that in the end were proven to be perfect by the fact that the West Indies Under-19 team lifted the ultimate prize.