Paul Clarke, Gleaner Writer
Bucknor says WICB should use local model to generate int'l success
Former International Cricket Council elite umpire Steve Bucknor says the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) should use Jamaica as a blueprint for future success.
Bucknor, who was part of a panel at The Gleaner Editors' Forum yesterday at The Gleaner's Western Bureau in Montego Bay, said that a change of policy is critical to the fortunes of the regional side.
"Jamaica has been successful at first-class cricket for five consecutive years mainly because the Jamaica Cricket Association has done some tangible things to generate success," Bucknor said.
"Some of these things should be duplicated by the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) in order to pave the way for success at the international level."
According to Bucknor, the creation of academies in each territory is one such move that is certain to lead to the game being better understood by the players at the local and international levels.
Standard for success
Taking aim at the High Performance Centre in Barbados, Bucknor said more must be done as a single cricket academy cannot bring the younger players up to the required standard for success in Test cricket.
"While Jamaica has no cricket academy, as a matter of policy the individual player is taught how to play straight. This is why at the longer version of the game we dominate the region, setting a record with five consecutive titles in as many years," Bucknor reasoned.
"The other territories and the WICB will have to rethink their policies because too many losses have come our (WI) way when in obvious winning positions, and this is as a direct relation to the youngsters not knowing the basics of the game, such as playing straight," Bucknor stated.
He said Jamaica will continue to dominate regional cricket's four-day version for some time, as the basic elements of good batting are being preached and practised with regularity.
Earlier this year, Jamaica won a record five straight regional four-day titles to become the undisputed kings of Caribbean four-day cricket. Jamaica also won the regional one-day title and barely missed out on the T20 crown, when they lost out to Trinidad and Tobago in the final. Bucknor says batting concepts taught here are solid for all formats of the game.
"A good batsman playing straight can produce in the three formats of cricket. Whether in Tests, 50 overs or T20 ... and this is one advantage Jamaica has over, say, Trinidad and Tobago at this point," Bucknor charged.
The West Indies recently had a miserable tour of England - losing both the Test and one-day series, as well as the one-off T20 match, and Bucknor said it's hard to see how the board can proceed without an overhaul of some of its policies.
"It is hard to see the proverbial light at the end of tunnel. The truth of the matter is that currently only Jamaica can boast of a good and successful programme. The other territories, including Guyana and the likes, are not doing enough. Similarly, the West Indies Cricket Board is not doing enough," the former outstanding umpire said.
He also called for revamped first-class cricket leagues in the individual territories as a way of helping to turn the fortunes of the West Indies team. Bucknor noted that unless steps are taken to establish real academies, such as the case in England, Australia and South Africa, the West Indies will continue to struggle and the supporters will be subject to more heartbreaking losses.
Bucknor, who holds the record for standing in the most Tests and was the first to have officiated in 100 Tests, noted that while county cricket in England helped West Indies players in the past, the time has come for the WICB to put measures in place to further enhance the legacy of West Indies cricket.