Sat | Aug 19, 2017

The Wright View | Technical expertise and managing talent

Published:Tuesday | August 2, 2016 | 8:00 AM
India’s Captain Virat Kholi (centre) takes a catch to dismiss West Indies batsman Darren Bravo for a duck on the first day of the second Test match between the West Indies and India at Sabina Park on Saturday. Looking on from the non-striker’s end is Rajendra Chandrika.

The lack of utilising expert advice of a technical nature by Jamaica and West Indies sports administrators is now what I would term a regional and national disgrace.

Before the start of the second Test cricket match between India and the West Indies at Sabina Park last week, I watched a television programme that interviewed the experts involved in pitch preparation in the different Test venues of the Caribbean.

There was footage of the pitch to be used in the match which began last week Saturday at Sabina Park in Jamaica. The soil type and grass used was also featured. At the end of the interview, the experts predicted that with the grass cover and moisture affecting conditions on the first day of the Test match, their opinion was that "batting would be easier on the second day of the match". Simple, unequivocal and straightforward advice from experts!

 

DECISION TO BAT FIRST

 

Then on the first day of the match, the captain of the West Indies team won the toss AND DECIDED TO BAT FIRST!

Who advises the captain? Was he on a frolic of his own?

History will record the validity of the "expert advice" from those in charge of pitch preparation, while the hapless West Indian bowlers sacrificed themselves and their muscles on a second-day pitch that was predicted to be easier for batting.

Already, the excuses for making a decision that was so obviously wrong are coming thick and fast, with the proverbial 'oops' soon to be voiced by the ones responsible for advising our young and inexperienced captain, knowing full well that there will be no sanctions unless the guilty one had previously said something adverse about a member of the board or their policies.

It is now increasingly obvious that cricket in the West Indies can only be saved by the wholehearted support of the CARICOM Cricket Committee by every West Indian cricket fan.

In track and field, Jamaica's prowess has been linked to genetics, yam and the annual event called Champs.

As the debate rages on, there is no doubt that the interest of young Jamaican athletes begins at Sports Day in preparatory and primary schools and nurtured and developed by parents and coaches right up to secondary school and Champs.

What is a peculiar and not easily explained fact is that the majority of the standout performers at Champs never seem to go on to be world beaters as adults. There are in fact a few who have gone on to world champion status, but I submit that the majority of our world stars were not standout performers at Champs.

 

HONED TALENTS

 

The best of our athletes seem to be okay athletes at Champs who were taken in hand by one of the many world-class coaches available and their obvious talents honed and perfected. 'But what about Naomi?'

What about the ones who promised so much in Class Three, Class Two and even Class One?

It seems to me that those boys and girls who excel in their early years at Champs are required to perform multiple events throughout the athletic season, thus enabling them to win medals and points for their schools and coaches, then going on to interregional competition, then going on to competition against the best in the world.

All of these performances are done by CHILDREN who are still growing, still maturing and having all the peculiar nuances associated with growing up in a world driven by greed and the ego of parents, coaches and school administrators. The effect of all of this: burnout!

It is my belief that our children are excellently prepared for achieving physical fitness, then events and competitions are found for them to showcase their skills and talents, instead of targeting a particular event or championship and preparing the child specifically for that, taking care not to overexert them with multiple events, much like how Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce are handled by their coaches and management teams.

There is really no other way, and I think that now is the time when we must begin to take a hand in the management of our young track and field prodigies instead of allowing them to be burnt out and cast aside by those responsible for their welfare. We owe it to our children.