Tony Becca | WI players talking far too much
Once upon a time, at least in 1975 when I toured outside the West Indies to cover the series in Australia, West Indies players were told to keep their mouths shut, certainly as far as the media were concerned.
The only player allowed to speak to the media was the captain. Despite the presence of a senior player like the great Lance Gibbs, who became the world record holder for the number of wickets during the tour and playing in his last series, Clive Lloyd was the only one with that privilege.
Today, 40 years later, it appears that any player, regardless of his experience, can speak on behalf of the West Indies team.
Following the first Test match in Hobart recently, Jomel Warrican spoke on behalf of the team at the press conference after playing in only his second Test match and taking nine wickets in total; and following the second Test match, Carlos Brathwaite, after playing in his first Test match and scoring 59 runs, was also quoted in the press speaking about the West Indies chances.
With the passing of time, the way things have changed, and the changes in attitude, nothing may be wrong with that, especially as the 1975-76 team got a hiding second to none, and this team also got a hiding, second to none, particularly as in this day and age, every man has a 'right' and the same privileges.
To me, however, every man does not have a 'right' and the same privileges, unless he is good enough and experienced enough to justify expressing his opinions on the big stage.
To me, Gibbs, who finished with 309 wickets in 79 Test matches after 15 years of Test cricket at 41 years old, was an experienced cricketer, and one who fans around the world would listen to whenever he opened his mouth on cricket, especially when talking about bowling, off-spin bowling at that.
To me, regardless of what is happening these days, things have not changed, at least not that much.
Warrican and Carlos Brathwaite, and people of their ilk, regardless of their talent, do not, at least not yet, possess the quality or the experience, the number of wickets or the number of runs, nor the longevity in the game which would cause the fans of the game wanting to listen to them, even in this day and age.
As promising as Warrican's debut performance was against Sir Lanka, it was against a team in transition, and his performance in Hobart was nothing to write home about. On top of it all, he was a young man with really nothing to say to the media, or the fans, many of whom were two and three times his age of 23 years.
The same is true of Carlos Brathwaite, who, in spite of his fireworks and magical four-ball performance in the last over against England in the World Twenty20 final recently, has not achieved that level of experience and skill in West Indies cricket.
The players of today, most of them, talk too much, and with nothing to say. Either that or they are allowed to talk too much.
Before every Test series, the West Indies have 'turned the corner', and despite the disappointment of the previous series, they are always good enough to beat their next opponents, providing they bat better, bowl better, and field better.
Before the recent series against Australia, for example, the now-absent coach Curtly Ambrose, probably forgetting that he was not still playing, promised all sorts of things.
They have all been wishful thinking
Darren Bravo, after the first Test against Australia, for example: "It is very important we look at the positives ... The players are putting in the work. It's just a matter of getting out there and executing it."
Jermaine Blackwood, a Test player, was expected to "play well" in a practice match, especially in a match against a team of only two first-class players; and Jerome Taylor, himself a Test player, was expected to "have a good run" against the same team, and a team short on quality.
And the key to executing is really knowing how to execute.
They all say a lot while saying nothing, really.
Phil Simmons, who is really making excuse after excuse in his short time as coach while spending his time yearning for the return of players who have long departed the scene, some of whom achieved little or nothing while on the scene.
After the first Test: "I'm totally frustrated. It's enjoyable to see Andre Russell bowling at 140 clicks, and Bravo hitting three or four sixes, and Chris getting in it. It is frustrating that we don't have them here playing in the Test series."
And Dwayne Bravo said: "It's getting frustrated, not only for myself but for all the other cricketers, Gayle, Sammy, Pollard, Russell. We are committed to West Indies cricket, but sometimes the way we have been treated over the years, sometimes we second-guess and ask ourselves why should we actually fight with the West Indies Cricket Board when the rest of the world are opening their hands for us."
Simmons should be reminded that his fundamental job is to coach the team, and most important also, that Gayle said years ago, since the start of Twent20 cricket, that he prefers the two shorter versions of the game; that Dwayne Bravo once said his teams were Trinidad and Tobago, Indian Premier League (IPL) team, and the West Indies, in that order; Narine did not turn up in time for a series against New Zealand, preferring to stay with the IPL; and that Narine and Russell stayed with their IPL teams in the Champions League rather than play for the West Indies against Bangladesh in 2014.
The West Indies players, the young players especially, should shy away from speaking to the media, and try and let their bats and their deliveries speak for them.
Despite the team selected for the World T20 Cup and their performance, in spite of their recent performances in the Tri-Nations tournament, they should remember the disappointing performances of the recent past in Tests and the World Cup, the many wickets that have fallen for so few runs, the many runs that have been scored for the loss of so few wickets, the many Test matches that have ended in three days, and the agonising defeat after defeat.
The West Indies players should talk less and play better.