Bennett King, the West Indies coach, is willing to take his share of the blame for his team's crushing defeats in the Tests and one-day internationals against South Africa. King, who took over the coaching position ahead of the VB Series in Australia, has said that his side is committed to improve.
"I'm prepared to take the blame for a lot of the stuff because we've had to try and come in in a very short space of time and play Test cricket and one-day cricket, and we've worked the boys hard in that time," King was quoted as saying in The Trinidad Express. "We're pushing them harder. I offer no excuses there. And that's why I said I'm not blaming my players for feeling tired when they come into matches, that's my fault. To be honest, they've fronted up in matches and they've been tired, physically, which probably goes into their mental side as well.
"I wasn't expecting anything different," he said. "The results, even though they won the ICC, you have to look at the history over the last three or four years. It's been a tough road for the West Indian fans and the cricketers themselves. I'm pretty realistic about where we are at the moment."
West Indies, who lost the Tests 2-0, slumped to their first one-day series whitewash at home when South Africa won the fifth one-dayer by seven wickets in Trinidad. "We've got to find a way where these players understand the requirements that are needed for international cricket. And that's my responsibility. Yep, we take some losses but, in the long term, what we are working towards is that there are going to be a lot more smiles rather than a lot more disappointment."
King pointed to the inconsistency of the batsmen as being the main reason for the team's failure. "I still believe that Chris Gayle at his tender age and Ronnie Sarwan at his tender age, they're still only 24, 25 and when you look around the globe with cricketers, people are starting to come into their own by the time they are 27, and they are actually playing much better when they are in their 30s...I'm not asking people to be patient, I'm asking people to be thoughtful which is what we ask our players to be."
King was vocal about the state of regional cricket in the Caribbean. "Some of the bowling issues for me stem from regional cricket," he continued. "How much time do you need to develop some of these people for international cricket? We're going to have to keep them in there and people are going to have to suffer through some bowling spells that may not be quite as good if they are the people we're gonna target to lead West Indies into the future. We've gotta take a trusting approach and be prepared to spend large amount of times so that they learn."
However, West Indies have very little time to reflect on their performance, as they face another tough challenge when they play Pakistan in three one-day matches and two Tests, with the first one-dayer beginning tomorrow in St.Vincent. "It's very, very tight," he said. "There's a lot of things we want to do with the players and we need to do with the players and when you've got back-to-back series like this...it's hard to get the work into players that we want."