On Target
July 11, 2014

More worrying signs in Windwards’ cricket

The standard of Cricket in the four Windward Islands has been a cause for concern for some time.

But this concern should have gone up a notch, following last week’s staging of the annual Under-19 competition here in St Vincent and the Grenadines.{{more}}

Having the tournament played and a winner declared should have been the least of the stated objectives; instead it should have been the output of the teams and their respective stages of ability and understanding of cricket.

What, however, was presented has caused some worry, as there were not many standout players, which would engender hope for the future in the islands.

In fact, most players can be deemed just about average.

A few tournaments aback, one could have identified with certainty that this player or that player would, in five or six years, make it to the West Indies team.

And, most predictions have come to pass.

Another yardstick to assess the relatively poor standard of the current crop of Under-19 cricketers was the teams’ returns with the bat.

The completed innings revealed scores of 94, 97, 109, 116, 116, 125, 138, 150, 156, 156, 160, 188/8 declared, 261, 291.

These totals do not reflect any sort of quality among the batsmen.

Additionally, there were only three 50s and one 100 scored in the six matches that convened the tournament.

This type of poor return by batsmen gives the bowlers a false sense of accomplishment that they are ready for the next level. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily so.

This is not withstanding that the standard in the other territories is not over the moon either, but certainly, still above that which exists in the Windwards.

On observation, it was also clear that many players are not that technically efficient.

Many lacked match awareness; the captains were generally at sea when it came to field placing and fielders were foreigners to the use of angles in cutting off balls when they were called into action to do so.

Whilst batsmanship is just one facet of the overall cricket development, it is a key indicator of the state of the sport.

The most significant observation that came through was that the players, in the main, are not students of the game. In short, there are too many areas of Windwards cricket which are in dire need of redress.

But, as fate would have it, the tournament was played in the right place, as there were personnel in place who hold crucial positions to provide the guidance needed.

Among those who viewed the tournament was the Territorial Development officer for the Windwards Irvine Warrican, as well as present senior Windwards team coach Ian Allen.

The Windward Islands Cricket Board of Control’s chief executive officer Lennox John, along with board member Elson Crick got first-hand the unfolding of what should be the next generation of senior Windwards cricketers.

Unfortunately, Warrican, who is also the Windwards Under-19 team manager, seemed not to be with it, as one would have thought that at this level, recordings would have been made for future corrections of flaws in the players’ techniques.

Surely this was a major shortcoming, as from the naked eye, some bowlers are bordering on extending their elbows beyond the limit, which could lead them to have an illegal bowling action.

Nipping such action in the bud would prevent a recent development, which has deflated the aspirations of one of the Windwards and the region’s brightest bowling prospects.

Similarly, those batsmen with unsound approaches are in need of help.

Making those mental notes are not enough for the many technical surgeries that would have to be performed, if we are to begin to take this crop of players to the next phase.

Simply having an Under-19 tournament to satisfy the selection of a Windwards team for the West Indies tournament certainly cannot be the prime reason.

This may explain the reason the Windwards continue to languish at the bottom half of the Under-19 set-up. Emerging champs of the regional Under-19 three-day tournament twice (2000 and 2010) and the 50-over affair once (2012) also gauges the standard of cricket among the four islands.

Therefore, plotting a course for those players who possess the potential to succeed the existing senior players is paramount.

Firstly, though, the sport in each of the four territories must be looked at in a manner so that parallel programmes should be carried out with some homogeneity.

There is a whole lot of work to be done in the Windwards, if what was on display here over a week and a half ago is the best there is at the rung just before the top of the ladder.