Take notes from Sobers

Tim Hector always speaks with loads of passion and emotion whenever the subject is West Indies cricket

Haydn Gill
Tim Hector always speaks with loads of passion and emotion whenever the subject is West Indies cricket. The outspoken Antiguan might not have played the sport at the highest level, but he has a wealth of knowledge about the technical side of it. He has strong views on coaching, and, he feels there are faults in the way we approach coaching and the way we envisage the role of a coach. Known for his frankness, either as a staunch critic of the Antigua government or as a respected cricket analyst, Hector emphasised his feelings on the subject of coaching at a discussion in St. John's last week on the eve of the Cable & Wireless One-Day International between Pakistan and Zimbabwe.
He said this region is at fault in trying to follow coaching manuals written by Englishmen. He thinks we should be following the lead of one of our very own and one who is perhaps most qualified to give advice on cricket. `Anybody who reads Sir Garfield Sobers' remarkable book called Cricket Advice notices that he challenges every single point in the MCC coaching manual,' Hector told the audience at the Cathedral Cultural Centre in Antigua?s capital city. `He tells you over and over that you do not play a forward defensive shot with the bat starting close to the body. `Sobers reverses the process and he does it through the entire book.'
According to Hector, no one in the Caribbean, including the West Indies Cricket Board, had paid any attention to Sobers' book which was published in the 1960s. The deputy leader of the Opposition United Progressive Party and editor of the Outlet newspaper, Hector identified among the problems in West Indies cricket, the basic flaws among players at the highest level. `We must prepare the player from early so that by the time he reaches there, he doesn't have fundamental deficiencies. I think West Indies cricket has got it the wrong way around,' he said. `We are not preparing our cricketers from early and we are using MCC manuals to train people who play cricket fundamentally different from the way the English manual says how to play it.'
Not technical
He insisted, however, that the role of an international coach should not be on the concentration of technical aspects of the game. He drew as an example the famous American football coach Vince Lombardi. `He used to say there is nothing to coaching, but there is everything to motivation, understanding the human personality and being able to stimulate that personality towards the achievement,' Hector said.
`The fundamental function of the coach is understanding the players, motivating them and then developing a strategy.' Hector added that the days of the West Indies depending on raw talent to over-power the opposition are numbered.
`Our natural talent is better than the natural talent around the rest of the world, but the scientific development of the rest of the world is far superior to ours,' he said. `It therefore negates a lot of what we get with natural talent'.
`We now have to put the science of organisation and development behind our cricketers.' The authorities, he said, again had it the other way around.