June 15, 2012

West Indies need more action, less talk

The Ramdin affair has highlighted the need to nurture the right mindset in players

After all the recent "talk", the cricket field must have felt like a sanctuary to Denesh Ramdin. He did not get a chance to bat himself, but West Indies' one-day warm-up game against Middlesex was a chance for the wicketkeeper-batsman to turn his mind back to playing the game.

Had he been able to see past the time he got to three figures last Sunday at Edgbaston, Ramdin, one assumes, would have kept his hands out of his pocket, waved his bat to the crowd, pointed to his dressing room and moved on.

It became complicated because of four little words: "Yea Viv, talk nah." A fine from the ICC and condemnation from the pundits and sundry others in the Caribbean cricket fraternity will have turned the memories of that 107 not out somewhat sour. It need never have been so.

But what convinced this man who was touted by the same Viv as a future West Indies captain to scrawl those words - just in case he got the 40 runs he needed overnight to get to the hundred - and to believe that brandishing them was a good plan? What moved him to think it was an acceptable thing to do in front of the whole world?

Maybe he thought he would get support for hitting back at Sir Vivian Richards' on-air criticisms of his play during the second Test. On call-in programmes in his native Trinidad the morning after, not everyone was shamed by Ramdin's show and tell. The minority, but not necessarily an insignificant minority, thought the gesture the right response to Richards' criticisms of a man only recently reinstated to the side.

They didn't look at it as an immature and counter-productive way to handle criticism. That messaging Sir Viv simply lacked class; that it took away from Ramdin's own achievement on the day. The "do them back" mode of response is en vogue nowadays in the Caribbean. It is too old school, it seems, to let actions speak louder than words.

Remember, before Ramdin, there was Chris Gayle, who got his own back at his coach, Ottis Gibson, and the West Indies Cricket Board CEO, Ernest Hilaire, on public radio. He lost over a year in international cricket as a result.

Even Shivnarine Chanderpaul, renowned for letting his bat speak, got into verbals with the authorities in 2011 over perceived slights by the West Indies selectors and coach. He still has not won back a spot in limited-overs cricket. And in recent weeks and months, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Brendan Nash and Jerome Taylor have not been shy about saying what they think about how they have been treated. Their words have made for lively copy.

Is this growing verbal aggression really good for West Indies cricket? Or is it misdirected energy? For instance, what will the bad press now do for Ramdin, who must keep making runs so as not to eat his own words? Will there be any less pressure to perform in the next Test?

As Ramdin's coach both with Trinidad and Tobago and the Windies, David Williams found himself following Sunday's drama closely.

"I know in 2009, when he made that 166 [against England at Kensington Oval], he did pull a note out and it was thanking people for the support. When I saw it [piece of paper] come out of his pocket [at Edgbaston], I thought it was the same thing. But when I read it, I said: 'No Denesh, no.' That's taking it a little bit overboard.

In his four and a half years as assistant to first John Dyson and then Gibson, Williams has had occasion to shake his head at the choices players make. "While I was there at West Indies level, there was so much controversy going on with the strike [during Bangladesh's tour in 2009] and all those things. Every time you started to build something and it's looking like it's going forward, there is a strike, there is something happening, players problems. There are so many things that came in, that hampered that sort of growth."

The "do them back" mode of response is en vogue nowadays in the Caribbean. It is too old school, it seems, to let actions speak louder than words

As the newly appointed technical director for Trinidad and Tobago's cricket, Williams has the challenge of developing in some of West Indies cricket's future talents a different mindset. "Your backgound is very important," he says. "Your foundation is very important. If your foundation is weak, you're going to struggle at the top and it will take you a little bit longer to really be able to deal with things at the top level."

Williams has seen at close quarters how such shortcomings have held players back. "More often than not, when they come to that level, then we are just starting to deal with character-building and personalities," he says. "So if that's done beforehand then half our job is basically finished. The guys just need to concentrate on their cricket and they will be better players."

The Test series against England produced a few noteworthy West Indian highlights, but perhaps outside of the now seasoned Marlon Samuels, captain Darren Sammy, Kemar Roach, and arguably Ramdin, no one else can claim to have moved his career forward. Maturation is taking place ever so slowly.

"There is a momentum that's building at the moment... There is still a lot of room for improvement but at least you seeing something you can identify and work with," Williams reckons. He feels, though, that the pedestrian rate of individual progress could be quickened if West Indian players got more opportunities to broaden their horizons.

"Look at A team cricket, for example. We need to be playing more cricket, not one series a year or two series a year. To give the guys more exposure, we need to have A team guys going to Australia, spending a month and a half up there, getting used to different conditions… Get into the subcontinent, play cricket out there for a long period of time. And that's the only way we're going to improve basically, as well as putting proper structures in place in terms of development.

"The High Performance Centre is doing what they can, but I think the responsibility is on the various boards as well to come on board, just as the Trinidad and Tobago board is doing at the moment.

"There must be some sort of responsibility taken by the [West Indies] Board to ensure that the structure is run properly and the players are getting what they need or else we're not going to go anywhere."

West Indies cricket still needs much more action, much less talk.

Garth Wattley is a writer with the Trinidad Express

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ashlar on June 17, 2012, 1:15 GMT

    When people speak out or act out there's a reason for it. You mentioned Gayle, Sarwan, and Taylor but also then normally mild-mannered Nash, and usually timid Ramdin. You suggest that they should speak with the bat or ball. Maybe speaking with the bat and ball won't address the issues. What's wrong with this team has a myriad of causes including cultural and generational. The myopic "actions speak louder than words" approach is not necessarily the solution. Because if the players just performed, it would suggest there were no problems. What we're witnessing is a dysfunctional family squabble taking place in public and it's ugly and cringeworthy. And yes, it would be nice if the rest of us didn't have to watch it, but the players shouldn't have to muzzle themselves for our comfort. West Indians commentators, like Holden, who continually criticise the players are actually part of problem. Have you noticed that commentators from other countries don't do it?

  • Dummy4 on June 16, 2012, 17:21 GMT

    Like I said a few days ago, the added firepower in the One Day team is simply meaningless. At present we are chasing 288 and are 6 down and still have to score 150. Did I not say the team looks good on paper, but like MR Phillips noted, they cannot think out in the middle. Moreover, the management is again to blame for the batting line up, and leaving Gayle, and Chanders out of the eleven. I have likened this WI team with the India A team in the WI, having carried all the big names are they are failing repeatedly despite their successes in India.

  • Neil on June 16, 2012, 9:06 GMT

    Can't believe he was fined. People are so soft now. Let him bear the consequences of extra pressure. ICC is and always has been a joke. It is also about time that the greats of yesteryear realised that not everyone can be of the same ability and that the game has changed a lot; they should be offering their mentoring services a lot more without the need for large payments, unless they are not really interested in the game after all... This comment applies to more than the WI by the way.

  • Azam on June 16, 2012, 8:07 GMT

    I agree with the comment that legends should appreciate the youngsters instead of crirticizing them. In now a days of modern and fast cricket these type of criricism from legends can spoile the whole career of a youngster.

  • Dummy4 on June 16, 2012, 4:49 GMT

    I think ICC has done the right thing by slapping a fine on Ramdin for this kind of behaviour. Because Viv Richards is a legend in cricket and it is important for ICC that cricketers respect a Hall of famer like Richards.. If a cricketer wants to prove his critics wrong , let him prove it with his performance. Also he has scored a century only in a dead rubber against a weakened English bowling where Tino best was almost able to get a century. Ramdin be more consistent and then you can easily shut down this critics. All the best...

  • TIJO on June 16, 2012, 4:26 GMT

    The legends who sits in the gallery, putting unnecessary comments on the youngsters as if in this age also they can do great things. Dear legends, kindly support the youngsters instead of making ridiculous comments. Instead of this help them to improve their techniques . then it will be better for cricket

  • Dummy4 on June 15, 2012, 22:45 GMT

    ICC is so sensitive, ICC fine Ramdin for waving a paper around . Explain to me ICC what was the fine really for ? Surely the statement wasn't directed toward you, but you but right in any how, it was just a friendly conversation between two men :D and to add to that i wouldn't apologize to Viv either.

  • anthony on June 15, 2012, 22:37 GMT

    @bnh1985fan Its a oversimplification to say the windies board is an example of how not to man manage..they seem to have been manmanaging Sammy and his 11 pretty well in putting in real pride, fight,never say die spirit in the last 12 months moreso than when these so called "stars" were playing or striking in the 2000s....the difference in culture can be exemplified by samuels ...they have proven their man management by bringing back the all important Gayle back in to the fold who has promised to help whoever of the youngsters are played..They have let narine and pollard and other youngsters make ipl money & come in 2 the side. i would remind u sarwan had an absmal time in the windies test home series last yr and his attitude was poor. nash @ 34 has hardly set world alight . nevrtheless my test 11 Gayle, Sarwan,Samuels, bravo jnr,chanderpaul, sammy, Baugh,Roach, Edwards,Best,Narine. with pollard,barath,powell,edwards,rampaul,russell & others given a chance to be bred in.

  • Dummy4 on June 15, 2012, 18:55 GMT

    It is just the frustration that is pushing the cricketers to become LOUD. 1. There is the criticism/TRUTH that WI cricket is not good shape.2. There is pressure from other nations who seem to be steadily getting to the TOP.3. Cricket is NO MORE than # 1 game for the WI. 4. Players are not being paid as well as other richer nations like India or England. Until and unless there is a roadmap to address the known issues plaguing WI cricket, the crowds are going to be disappointed and the players are going to go overboard. It is left to the players to bring back the life to WI cricket. Else this SPARK which are seeing in the last year or so, might just fade away.

  • jaswant on June 15, 2012, 13:28 GMT

    Ramdin has disappointed himself more than anything else, and must consider himself lucky to still be in the team. Unnecessarily he has pressured himself and has become a ridicule to the world.With his record of consistent failures,it will be difficult for him to suddenly be successful.His only reason for being in the team is the absence of a better keeper.To begin with,i would have stuck with Baugh.Behavior like this shows the lowest class of an individual,even those who are backing him will think again.What a poor display of sportsmanship.

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