It's a challenge that you probably won't be able to appreciate until you have been to the Caribbean. We got the guys together on a fairly regular basis within the school holidays. We didn't play as much cricket as some of the other sides, but we did get to spend time with each other in the camp and play against each other regularly. It was very important before going to Bangladesh that they understood each other.
The reality is that many of them may not play again until they play in a senior West Indies team or an A team, which would be a great achievement for them. A lot of them have exams this year. There is a lot of pressure in terms of studies, and the challenge is making sure they are keeping up with their homework and revision. At the same time, you have to keep them focused on the cricket. It is a difficult balance. But once we got to Bangladesh, the players understood that they had to get their heads down and work hard. We were playing catch up, we hadn't had as many matches as the other sides. Every practice session was crucial in terms of getting ready for our first game, against England.
When we were picking the squad in December, we were looking for a balanced attack with spin and pace options. Our difficulty was that we didn't have quality spinners. We had [Kirstan] Kallicharran for variety with his legspin. We had three guys who all bowled offspin. As the tournament developed, we were fortunate that we got some wickets that encouraged good fast bowling. We found that the opposition was very comfortable playing spin, and therefore it was a challenge for those teams, and the three sides we played in the knockout stages were all Asian sides.
I had never been involved in such an incident, as a player or coach. It was not discussed or planned prior to the game. It was down to the situation itself. There was some observation in the penultimate over that the batsman was looking to get a head start. The bowler, Keemo Paul, was aware about it going into the last over. Hence, he hadn't entered his delivery stride at all when he brought the stumps down. It was very much in the spur of the moment. Therefore, my initial reaction was a little bit of shock, in terms of not being prepared for something like that, given the nature of the situation as well. We fought back in the game magnificently, got them nine down, and we were in a position to win the game. But with six balls to go and three runs to win in what was the game of the tournament, it will probably be remembered only for that one moment.
The referral to the third umpire came after the umpire had asked Hetmyer if he would like to proceed with the appeal. He said yes straightaway, and the team was 100% behind that.
"We had to make it very clear to Keemo and to the rest of the team that they had not said anything wrong, despite the feeling that they had done something terrible"
I think Imlach is a very smart and aware keeper. I had seen that in a couple of occasions in the competition when he had thrown the ball at the stumps, not with the same success. He has a close eye on that. That dismissal was very significant in the final. Pant is a class player and had done very well in the competition and was our first wicket.
This is an anomaly within the laws of the game. Young players have seen such incidents and they are into the visual side of things and that is how they learn and get their ideas from. A number of players have seen this not just on the international stage but also in the domestic stage in the Caribbean. That was one of the reasons why they felt the way they did. We had to make it very clear to Keemo and to the rest of the team that they had not said anything wrong, despite the feeling that you had done something terrible. If there was a case where the ball clearly came off the bat or glove through to the keeper and was not given, clearly that would infringe on the spirit of the game far more. Ian Bishop spoke very well after the game, saying reinforcing the law and regulation is what is going to uphold the game.
We were very grateful for the comments that came, particularly from the Caribbean, in support of what happened. We didn't sit the players down and get them to read the comments. I am sure they were available to them and they would have seen them. The perception would be slightly different in England. That is one of the reasons why you get the disparity in the reaction. We got back to the same thing - the rules, the laws of the game are such that it is within the laws. Maybe the culture in some countries is slightly different. It was interesting in the Murali Kartik incident as well.
"In the Caribbean, players are not as comfortable initially with coaching support. They are their own coach or mentor and have developed a style that has produced some success"
We were under a lot of pressure to get into the knockouts stage. That reflected in some of the cricket we played. We identified Hetmyer as captain in August, in the regional Under-19 competition camp, because we liked the way he went about in the field. He did things a little differently, he was very positive and the players looked up to him. At the time, he was a standout batsman in that tournament. Unfortunately he got injured in the first day of our campaign in December and couldn't play a part in Grenada before we went to Bangladesh. We didn't have a lot of opportunities to work with him on the field to develop his captaincy skills. He is certainly a player who is naturally very positive. He wears his heart on his sleeve when he gets frustrated and you can see it, and it is one of the things that we have spoken to him about, to cope with situations a little better and not show some of those signals. In terms of passion and enthusiasm, you can't fault him. It was very much down to him, the way our strategy evolved, going with our seamers and not spinners in the latter stages of the competition.
The key message [bowling coach] Corey Collymore mentioned on a regular basis was to start and finish the innings well. In both those games, we started very positively. We started with the ball well in the final against India, not so with the bat. Against Pakistan and Bangladesh, you knew you are getting a lot of spin, so the first ten overs were very important in the chase. We hoped to score very quickly. Immediately, we managed to bring the target down to something more comfortable for the middle order.
Personally it was a game where my emotions were like a roller coaster. You go into the game as underdogs, you are playing against a good side. You have them at 50 for 5 and you think, "Wow, this is a great position. Let's finish the job here." When Sarfaraz [Khan] was there, we were reluctant to get too far ahead of ourselves. But to knock India over for less than 150, you are suddenly the favourites. It was the first time in the competition when we were the favourites. We knew a good start in chasing a low total would have been excellent, and we would have been halfway there.
The response certainly overwhelmed me on our return to the Caribbean. It is difficult to know from a distance how the people are feeling and how much support you are generating. On arrival back in Barbados, it was very clear that the cricket fans in the Caribbean had gotten behind their team, stayed up all night for the last couple of games, and it was very well received. I think everybody has been looking for a positive, for something that they can look towards to turn the fortunes of their senior team around. Clearly these guys are not going to do that overnight.
As a coach coming to the Caribbean, the biggest difference I found was the players' background, what coaching support they had received before they came into contact with me. In England there is a system whereby you have a coach from a very young age at the club or school, and then your counties will pick you up and develop you and feed you into an academy. There is a consistent coaching support in the development of a player, which is paramount for player development. At the moment, in the Caribbean that is not the same. So the players are not as comfortable initially with coaching support. They are their own coach or mentor and have developed a style that has produced some success.