West Indies High Performance Centre (HPC) head coach Graeme West said the centre will concentrate on the four-day format of the game for the second semester, with the regional tournaments approaching at the turn of 2014.
West was delighted with the first term that passed and was keenly anticipating the start of the next, which runs from September to December. "This term is about honing our skills in the longer format of the game. We'd like to travel around the Caribbean and play some four-day cricket," he said. "The intake this year has been playing in the Barbados domestic three-day league and they've benefited greatly but it's time to take the next step. We'll then look at adjusting to perfect our basics in the ODIs to give our players the platforms to play in the Regional Super50 in the new year."
West identified the pitches in Barbados as the toughest in the region and believed the conditions they faced would help them learn how to adapt on difficult pitches, especially in the international arena.
"The Barbados league gives a benchmark to see how our games develop," he said. "The players who weren't from Barbados found it tricky sometimes. Batters had to settle as the pitches weren't what they expected. They had to blend new methods and tactics in the crease with slightly foreign conditions. They took some time to get off."
West lauded his bowlers and singled out left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein as most impressive so far in the HPC. "Bowlers got off faster because these pitches were conducive to taking wickets and it showed with Akeal, who took over 30 wickets in four games, with his left-arm orthodox," he said. "These are the best kinds of pitches for young bowlers to refine their trades."
Among the current crop, right-arm seamer Ronsford Beaton and right-hand batsman Kraigg Brathwaite are on West Indies A duty this month, and Adrian Barath due for the Champions League. West was optimistic his players would be contributing for their countries when regional cricket gets under way in early 2014.
"We've broadened and expanded the learning opportunities for the players in the classroom," he said. "We balance the cricketing and non-cricketing aspects of education well here. In the first term, we did IT (Information Technology) but now, we're introducing video assessment and analysis to keep things cricket-oriented. We need to look at the game sharper and much more closely to be competitive."
High Performance Centre squad: Adrian Barath (Trinidad & Tobago), Ronsford Beaton (Guyana), Quinton Boatswain (Leeward Islands), Kraigg Brathwaite (Barbados), John Campbell (Jamaica), Chanderpaul Hemraj (Guyana), Shai Hope (Barbados), Akeal Hosein (Trinidad & Tobago), Stephen Katwaroo (Trinidad & Tobago), Kyle Mayers (Barbados), Dalton Polius (St Lucia), Raymon Reifer (Barbados), Tyrone Theophile (Windward Islands), Hayden Walsh Jr (Leeward Islands)
Renaldo Matadeen is a sportswriter and social media manager for ESPN Caribbean. He tweets here