August 24, 2014

West Indies needs to develop high-level local coaches

The board must coordinate coaches' training across the Caribbean and offer Level 3 and Level 4 certification, so that aspirants don't have to travel overseas for them

One local coach who could replace Ottis Gibson is Phil Simmons, who has successfully coached Ireland for many years © Zimbabwe Cricket

As he trawled through the reams of research that shaped his report to the WICB last March, director of cricket Richard Pybus would have been struck by failings in several areas that have led to the team's drastic decline.

Among his 19 proposals approved by the WICB directors on the way to reverse the slump was that a coaching manager be appointed to oversee and implement programmes regionally.

The aim, as he put it, was "a standardised Caribbean philosophy and methodology of coaching relevant to the cricket culture of the region, including the review and updating of the coaching syllabi, a continuous education programme to ensure coaches are up to date with game development, skills and knowledge to develop world-class players and team".

Before passing as head coach last week, Ottis Gibson often complained, as others before him, of uncoordinated coaching from territory to territory. Bajans, for instance, would come into the West Indies team having gone through a different system than Trinidadians. The cricket upbringing of Guyanese varied, say, from Jamaicans. And so on.

Pybus recognised the problem and sought to deal with it.

It would hardly have been necessary had the WICB not allowed ten years to pass after its original coaching manager, the Australian Darren Holder, cleared out after seven months in the post. He is yet to be replaced.

Holder, then a senior coach with Queensland, took up the position in June 2004. According to the WICB, he would be the technical officer responsible for the coaching development component of its Cricket Development Unit. The WICB's statement all but replicated Pybus' recommendation. It listed Holder's duties as the management of the WICB's coaching education plan and provision of specialist courses. He would also oversee cricket at the Shell Academy (the forerunner of the High Performance Centre) and organise and coordinate the Emerging Players' Programme.

Roger Brathwaite, WICB chief executive at the time, declared that Holder would pass on "technical and technological skills" to local coaches.

As it turned out, Holder didn't last. Before his exit, he forsook his originally assigned duties and, under the influence of newly appointed head coach Bennett King, a fellow Australian from Queensland, joined the West Indies team's support staff.

Holder has returned to Trinidad three times in the past six years to conduct Level 1 courses at the University of Trinidad and Tobago under the Australia Sport outreach programme, at the Sir Frank Worrell Development Centre and under the Atlantic Cricket Excellence (ACE) programme for primary school teachers.

In the meantime, the WICB has remained without a coaching manager; the coaches of each territory simply continue to do their own thing. Under the WICB, they are limited to Level 2 certification, short of Level 3 and Level 4 (the highest) that are required for international recognition.

They had to turn to the England board and Cricket Australia to gain such recognition.

Henderson Springer, Barbados' head coach, gained his Level 3 at the ECB courses in the Lilleshall Sports Centre in Shropshire with a refresher when Cricket Australia held Level 3 courses for West Indian and United States' coaches in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a year ago. David Williams, Trinidad and Tobago's head coach and former West Indies' assistant coach, was also among the several West Indians in Fort Lauderdale.

Why Florida?

Cricket Coaches Australia recently struck up a relationship with the USA Cricket Association in an effort to develop the game there. USACA previously relied for its coaches' education on the WICB, whose previous development officer, the Barbadian Wendell Coppin, conducted its Level 2 coaching certification in California in October 2011. It is not difficult to deduce why Australia has taken over.

Attendance at such courses, in the US, England and also Dubai, headquarters of the ICC, is not cheap. The cost of the six-day residential Level 3 course is Aus$5000 (US$450); Caribbean participants rely on financial input from the individual boards along with what sponsorship they can source. A programme in Dubai, with air travel and accommodation tacked on, can be in the vicinity of US$4000.

These are the reasons for Pybus' insistence that the regional coaching manager needs to be in place as soon as possible so that he can implement his assigned responsibilities, allowing West Indian coaches to be accredited by the WICB rather than having to undertake expensive overseas trips for the same purpose.

Apart from negating the necessity for the Caribbean Premier League to import Level 4 coaches from overseas to take charge of five of its six franchise teams, as it did this year, it would eliminate what has become one of the many weaknesses affecting West Indies cricket.

Michael Muirhead, the WICB's chief executive, last week publicly encouraged West Indian candidates to put in their applications to fill the post vacated by Gibson - with the obvious proviso.

"We would talk to everybody," he said. "We are going on a worldwide hunt. We always would encourage West Indians but we have to evaluate them and put out our criteria."

At present, West Indians with the qualifications and the experience to fit the bill are limited.

Phil Simmons, the former Test opener of the 1980s, has had widely acclaimed success as Ireland's head coach; Roger Harper, who was in charge of the West Indies between 2004 and 2007 and Kenya for a year leading into the 2007 World Cup; Gordon Greenidge, the outstanding opening batsman of the years of dominance under Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards, led Bangladesh to the ICC Trophy in 1998 and, as a result, to Test recognition.

All gained their Level 3 or 4 certifications in England under the ECB's aegis when resident there. The expectation is that the pool of similarly internationally recognised West Indian coaches will rapidly expand under the renewed objective to standardise the system.

Tony Cozier has written about and commentated on cricket in the Caribbean for 50 years

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Indika on August 24, 2014, 19:34 GMT

    @ Everyone:

    A whole lot of change is needed in WI Cricket revive the Old Glory Days...

    Coaching staff, Team Management, Player Development, Youth Cricket, First Class Cricket, infrastructure and quality of pitches & most importantly the WI Cricket Board itself needs a huge revamp and a change for WI Cricket to reach the Old Glory Days.

    I've been saying this for ages on forums here and I feel the WI Public feels the same way...

    But me saying it repeatedly or the WI Public hoping for it whole heartedly would not create instant magic.

    "Sanford" was a spark that Ignited a Region that was hoping for a Benefactor to help a Dying Sport, A past time & a way of life in WI due to US sports attracting young athletes but that dream evaporated.

    "Packer" created the foregone World Beaters of the late 70's, 80's and early 90's by introducing a novelty called "World Series Cricket"...

    We might have seen another life line in T20 Cricket and WC win in 2011...

    Waiting for the "PHOENIX RISING"...

  • Dummy4 on August 24, 2014, 19:33 GMT

    There seem to be a belief that as long as someone has excelled at the game, their coaching prowess is automatic. So which of the current team coaches, all ranked higher that the W.I. excelled at the game or was a standout, or does that only apply to West Indians? Michael Bannon, Sean Foley, Glen Mills, Antonio Nadal Scott Brooks, Phil Jackson etc. are among the thousands of coaches who are recognised for their abilities as a coach, and not for the ability to play the game. We can continue to bury our heads in the sand, but recognising what is wrong, and putting the people and programs in place to fix them will be the answer, not pie in the sky ideas. I don't care who the coach is, as long as he is competent. It is interesting to know that of India's last five coahes, only Ravi Sastri was Indian and he lasted one year. Duncan Fletcher (Zimbabwe), Gary Kirstan (South Africa), Greg Chappell (Australia) and John Wright (New Zealand).

  • Dummy4 on August 24, 2014, 19:08 GMT

    There are enough great WINdians former cricketers to form a great coaching team. We don't need to look elsewhere. In addition to a coaching team a 'physical training and nutritional specialist' is also needed.

  • Android on August 24, 2014, 18:18 GMT

    I think wicb is wasting time by hiring foreigner coaches, having their own former great who are many in number, and a player at international level can't be change or his technique can't be changed instead he has to be polished in a technical cricketing manner. cricket lover from Pakistan

  • Dummy4 on August 24, 2014, 17:42 GMT

    How did West Indian coaches feel the job is extra secure manifest itself, how many of these West Indies coaches were they? Either we do not read enough, or we are not interested in hearing the real facts. On another subject, they are currently THREE (3) West Indian coaches with a Level 3 or 4 certification. Phil Simmons, Roger Harper and Gordon Greenidge. Are we so myopic that we are saying that doesn't matter? We seem to think that members past and present of the WICB and the regional Boards are somehow different to the rest of us. Just read the comment and there is no need to ask what territory the writer comes from. Finally, check every sporting activity in the world, to see that of the world renown coaches of that activity, less than ONE (1) percent excelled at the sport which they coach.

  • Stanley on August 24, 2014, 17:17 GMT

    How in the world did it take so many years and a non-West Indian to figure out the problem with coaching and what has blighted WI cricket for so many years? This is incredible! The problem was so obvious, yet hardly anyone noticed it, let alone acted upon it. The solution had already been put in place. It was just not allowed, for whatever reason, to take hold and develop into what it was intended to do. So the WI Board and the WI team have effectively thrown away ten, maybe more, years where WI cricket could have "make hay while the sun shines." It is so regrettable and galling to know that the powers that be so lacked insight and foresight into what was truly necessary to return WI cricket to the upper echelons of international cricket hierarchy. We could have been there already. Well, forward now, full speed ahead. Rally Round the WI! Stanley A George III, Esq, Chief Sports Agent, Unique Sports Agency,, Brooklyn, NY Problem identified now. Spare no effort!

  • ESPN on August 24, 2014, 15:02 GMT

    Having uniformity of coaching is a good idea. Having a coaching program that will expose our cricketers to all conditions will even be better. West Indies need to have many cricket teams that can participate in club cricket in many countries. We need to have a team playing in domestic cricket in Australia, England, India, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, South Africa. West Indies dominance in the 70's and 80's had a lot to do with the players playing County Cricket. The exposure helped the players.

  • Steve on August 24, 2014, 13:24 GMT

    I would like a WI coaching WI teams in all formats. WI always played with passion and aggression and that shouldn't be tweaked by foreign conservative coaches. WI already have so many greats sitting idle. They should be roped in to provide inspiration. It's very hard to change the style or technique when a player reaches international level. Most of the time, all they need is advice or a little tweak here and there.

  • ESPN on August 24, 2014, 12:03 GMT

    Sincerely hope Big Phil does not leave Ireland for WI for he will end up being treated just as he was by Zim. WI cricket needs to effect it structural changes . Then work on pitches throughout the Caribbean .

  • kent on August 24, 2014, 8:59 GMT

    @Starvybz. Sorry sir, I cannot agree with your reasoning.Why depend on foreign coaches when we can develop our own.WI was once a might cricketing nation, and we have had some of the very best batters and bowlers over the years.As Mr. Cozier reported we need to develop "a standardised Caribbean philosophy and methodology of coaching relevant to the cricket culture of the region." How can we achieve this if we depend upon foreign coaches who see the job as a chance to make some money while enjoying the sun, sand and sea of the Caribbean.We must groom our own coaches and develop our own standards. Our major problem is the lack of finances and the disjointed approach to coaching, as Mr.Cozier said, owing to individual approaches by each territory. We must develop a united approach involving all the island's cricketing boards and hone our own coaches in the WI.We are a cricketing power with pedigree. We produced the best cricketers in the 80s and 90s. Lets develop our own coaches also.

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