Yes, Windies players lack commitment but they do need better facilities in order to improve

By August 11, 2020

No one can question Andy Roberts’ passion for West Indies cricket. After an outstanding career for the West Indies where he took 202 wickets as part of a battery of fast bowlers, who terrorised teams for more than a decade, the no-nonsense Antiguan has for the last two decades has had to watch with despair and disdain while batting line ups have taken our bowling attacks apart almost at will.

I would imagine it would be even more frustrating for him to watch as West Indies’ batsmen, more often than not, seem incapable of batting for time in a Test match.

This was evident in the last two Test matches the West Indies lost to England at Old Trafford last month.

Therefore, it was no surprise to hear Roberts speak passionately about the team’s failures during an interview with Andrew Mason last week. Responding to comments regarding the lack of technological infrastructure that puts the West Indies at a disadvantage when compared to England, Roberts was quick to rubbish those claims, instead choosing to throw the blame squarely at the feet of the players.

“Infrastructure will not make you a better player.  You have to make yourself a better player and I don’t think the commitment is there from a lot of West Indies players,” he said.

“It’s not just the Test players but a lot of people who play cricket in the West Indies. I don’t think they commit themselves enough.  If you did, you would not be averaging 30 in first-class cricket and that is what we are getting.”

On the issue of commitment, I believe he makes a strong point. My perspective is that when you watch a West Indian batsman bat these days, you see a couple of things right away.

You see the deficiencies in technique but what you also see is how those weaknesses persist over time. I remember when Ronnie Sarwan just came into the West Indies. He was in love either with cutting balls that were close to or on his off stump.

Consequently, he would constantly get out by either playing on, being caught behind or snapped up somewhere between gully and point. However, over time he was more selective when choosing to play the shot and went on to have a successful career.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul adjusted his batting stance that allowed him to achieve incredible things like bat for 25 hours in a Test series between dismissals and face 1050 consecutive deliveries without losing his wicket.

This is something he did repeatedly – in 2002, 2004, and 2007 - all because he learned from his previous errors and adjusted.

I have yet to see this from any of the current players – a clear lack of commitment to improve, satisfied with mediocrity instead of striving for excellence.

You also see an inability to concentrate for extended periods. Watch any West Indies batsman in the current team. If they last more than an hour at the crease, you can literally see them struggling to maintain the high levels of concentration.

It manifests in bizarre shots unexpectedly as well as retreating into a defensive mode before eventually giving his wicket away.

You would never see that happen to Tiger because of how he practised.

Australian opener David Warner shared a story about how in 2011 Chanderpaul revealed to him the secret of how to occupy the crease for long periods.

“He batted on the bowling machine for six hours. I said, ‘This is ridiculous, how can you do this?’ And he said, ‘If you’re going to bat for six hours in a game you might as well practise it.’”

When you watch the current batsmen in the West Indies set up, I am sure none of them spends two hours batting in the nets let alone six.

This is the commitment needed and which Roberts believes is missing.

However, I do believe that improved structures would help the players improve.

Better facilities, better equipment, better coaches help deliver more information to players and in most cases lead to better performances even if marginal.

Better infrastructure allows players, regardless of the sport, to perform at a higher level. Think of it this way.

If you go to work each day in a rundown building where you don’t have access to the most basic of equipment; the copier doesn’t work, the air-conditioning makes you sick, and you have to take the stairs instead of an elevator, wouldn’t you feel demotivated?

To make matters worse every time you visit another office where the basics are in abundance, it depresses you. Eventually, the quality of your work deteriorates without you even realizing it.

It is the same with athletes.

If an athlete is not comfortable with his training environment, his or her ability to learn can be impacted. Like everyone else, athletes need to feel motivated in order to improve.

Modern facilities encourage athletes to work harder and hence improve..

 

 

 

 

 

Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

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