As former Barbados and West Indies player Vasbert Drakes prepares for his second stint as coach of Trinidad and Tobago's Queen's Park Cricket Club, he has called for better facilities throughout the region and for the players to develop their game.
The tall allrounder, who played 12 Tests and 34 ODIs, leaves his native Barbados today to resume duties in Port of Spain.
"I am excited about what is happening at Queen's Park and the good work that is being done there. We have excellent facilities and a quality programme," said Drakes, who played his last match for the West Indies in January 2004. "It is something I would like to see spread across the Caribbean. One of the difficulties across the region is facilities. At Queen's Park we have better facilities than even some of the teams competing in the Carib Beer Series. West Indies cricket is struggling, we know that. One way to lift the team and see it compete at the highest level again is to start at the club level. The roots must be strong."
In a first-class career which spanned 15 years, 36-year-old Drakes played for four teams in the English County Championship - Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Sussex and Warwickshire - and was Player of the Year twice with Border in the South African SuperSports League. He also represented Scotland last year. Late last year he served as player/coach for the Pickwick Club which he led to their first domestic Division One title in Barbados since 1958.
Drakes said the Stanford Twenty20 Tournament, which is due to start in Antigua in August, could be a saviour for West Indies cricket. "In the Caribbean we don't have the money to pay our players as top professionals so we have to look at programmes where we can get assistance," Drakes pointed out. "The Stanford Twenty20 has come along and looks capable of bringing a change and bringing back a professional approach to the game. We should embrace it."