Fri | Jul 19, 2019

Tony Becca | One more mistake too many

Published:Sunday | January 6, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Pybus

The last ranking of teams for 2018 as put out on December 31 by the International Cricket Council (ICC), the world's governing body for cricket, showed the once-mighty West Indies and their once-gifted band of players languishing near the bottom of the listing.

In Test cricket, the West Indies found themselves in eighth position, one solitary point ahead of Bangladesh; in One-day International (ODI) cricket, the West Indies were in ninth position, above Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, and Ireland; and in T20 cricket, the West Indies were in seventh position, only above teams like Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, and Ireland.

And as far as the ranking of individual players was concerned, it was just as bleak.

In Test cricket, the ICC team of the year had only Jason Holder in it, and that was based on his wonderful performance against lowly Bangladesh. Also in Test cricket, there was not one West Indies player in the top 20 on the batting list, and there was only Jason Holder at number 10 and Shannon Gabriel at number 13 in the top 20 on the bowling list.

On the all-rounders' list, however, Holder was ranked number two.

Although the West Indies had two players, Holder and Gabriel, on the ESPN/CricInfo team of the year, one in Shai Hope on the One-Day team and one in Marlon Samuels on the T20 team, judging by the rankings, it was a poor year for the West Indies.

It also was noticeable by the heavy defeats suffered not so much against India, but against Bangladesh in the two-match Test series, which Bangladesh won 2-0, one by 64 runs and one by an innings and 184 runs with both finishing inside three days.

As embarrassing as the rankings and those defeats were to West Indians, however, they obviously were not so to Cricket West Indies.

If it was so, the action, or possible action, of Cricket West Indies since then certainly has not suggested so.

Cricket West Indies (CWI), under the leadership of president Dave Cameron, has employed Richard Pybus, its former director of cricket and present high-performance director, as head coach to replace Nick Pothas, the fielding coach who acted as head coach to Bangladesh and the man who replaced the former coach, Stuart Law.

Pybus was employed by Cricket West Indies in two positions previously - high-performance director after leaving after two years as director of cricket - one was from 2013 to 2016, and the other from 2017 to 2018, and when he left the first time, many heaved a sigh of relief.

One of the things Pybus, a foreigner, was responsible for doing was making a change to the rule that made it mandatory for a player to play regional cricket in order to represent the West Indies.

In the early days, nearly 100 years ago, when the West Indies started on the road, and when they needed help, they welcomed that help.

Today, almost 100 years on, the West Indies have moved on, however. They have been through the ropes, or they have been in the wars, and they have, or should have, learnt from their experiences.

They are now capable, or should be capable, of charting their own destiny, and they should be allowed to do so.

 

STEPPING STONE

 

West Indies cricket should not be allowed to be used as a 'stepping stone' by anyone or to fill out their 'CVs' by the likes of Bennett King, Stuart Law, and Richard Pybus, or by any passing stranger.

There might have been a time when King, Law, and Pybus may have been useful to West Indies cricket, but those days are long gone.

West Indies cricket has enough champions, some of whom can do a good job, at least a better job than is being done at this time, or for a long time, guiding the development of West Indies cricket, especially if the leaders of West Indies cricket provide the atmosphere for the development of those who wish to be coaches, administrators, et cetera.

On top of that, while the West Indies employ foreigners as head coaches, batting coaches, bowling coaches, and fielding coaches in almost every area of their representative cricket, except for women's cricket, there are Phil Simmons, former coach of Ireland, now coach of Afghanistan, and dismissed coach of the West Indies; Otis Gibson, former bowling coach of England, dismissed coach of the West Indies and now head coach in South Africa; and, of course, there are others like Gus Logie, Andrew Coley, and company.

While West Indians are helping others, West Indies cricket is falling, or has fallen.

 

TIMES HAVE CHANGED

 

Even a casual look around the world of cricket shows the development of New Zealand from a weak team to the number three-ranked team in the world; it shows the development of Ireland; it shows the development of Afghanistan to where it produces spin bowlers of quality; and it shows the development of India, not only to the number-one position in the world, but also from a team of four spin bowlers in one team to a team of fast bowlers second to none.

How things and times have changed.

In 1959 in Delhi in India, in India's first innings, fast bowler Roy Gilchrist was bowling to Nari Contractor, and the commentator, the late Beri Sabadikari, is reported to have said, excitedly, "and in comes Gilchrist, the fastest bowler in all the world, to Contractor, and he is bowled" as he went on to describe the flying stumps on the way to wicketkeeper Franz Alexander, standing way behind the wicket.

In the West Indies innings, pace bowler Ramakant Desai was bowling to Rohan Kanhai, and Sabadikari was again reported to have said, "and in comes Desai, the fastest bowler in all India, to Kanhai', and then, in a quieter voice, "and Kanhai plays forward, killing the spin."

When the West Indies defeated England at Lord's in 1950 for the first time in England, an Englishman remarked, "Is not this the team that we defeated easily here in 1939?"

A reply came back,"Yes, but that time we came to learn. This time we come to teach."

If that question is asked now, the response of an embarrassed West Indian would be more defensive.

The response of a fan of the team that cannot produce one batsman whose average is better than 35, or one bowler - pace or spin - whose average is better than 28, would be, or maybe that it is the fault of poor coaching at all levels, inadequate training and practicing, not enough player pride, easily satisfied players, poor selection, and a lack of meaningful leadership at the top, especially in matters pertaining to cricket.

There have been whispers that board member Enoch Lewis of the Leeward Islands has objected to the way in which Pybus was appointed. Some players are also said to have uttered their objections to his presence, and following the resignation of board members and staff members recently, the ship may well be sinking.