In quest of consistency and efficiency in WI cricket
THE West Indies were inconsistent as usual but still reached the semi-final of the ICC T20 World Cup.
And, given their record, who is to say Mr Darren Sammy and his men would not have defied the odds to get the last 81 runs in six overs and defeat Sri Lanka in the semi-finals had a hailstorm not intervened?
After all, they did even better than that in conquering Australia just a few days earlier.
There could be no doubt, though, that until the weather intervened, Sri Lanka played the better cricket in that semi-final.
No doubt the Sri Lankans were hungrier, having lost to West Indies in the T20 World Cup final in Colombo two years ago.
For West Indian fans, the regional team continued to infuriate with their tendency to get the little things wrong. The fielding lapses and poor running between wickets in the semi-final were prime examples of those little things.
There may also have been inadequate planning since it seems the team's brains trust may not have taken into account the threat of rain. How else to explain the lackadaisical approach to their innings by Messrs Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels?
Mr Gayle, now 34 and increasingly prone to injury and unfitness, may well be past his best. The West Indies must prepare themselves to do without his iconic presence in the not too distant future. Mr Samuels, at 33, is not too far behind.
In the Test match format, the perennially excellent Mr Shivnarine Chanderpaul will turn 40 in August and is surely in the evening of his days as an international cricketer.
As the managers of West Indies cricket look to change the guard, they must also seek to build efficiency and professionalism on and off the field. They must seek to minimise the inconsistencies and attitudinal inadequacies which have been a scourge for too long.
With that in mind, we welcome the recent announcement of a comprehensive plan proposed by the WICB's Director of Cricket Mr Richard Pybus and accepted by the West Indies Cricket Board of Directors.
The proposals are many and varied, but we are particularly pleased by moves to revamp, improve and professionalise first-class cricket. At last, there will be an effort to materially encourage players at the regional domestic level. As many as 15 players attached to each territorial team are to be contracted by the WICB which, as we understand it, will require them to be available for regional and domestic competition and maintain minimum standards of fitness and preparedness.
There is to be a year-round cricket programme with a minimum of 10 first-class matches per season for each regional team on a home- and-away basis. All teams will have professional coaches and staff and, crucially, the WICB is to appoint a coaching manager to oversee and hopefully standardise methodologies region-wide.
As a corollary to all this, we expect that there will be a concerted effort to improve support infrastructure, including pitches and ground staff personnel.
We have said before in this space, and we say again: If the West Indies, with their current amateurish, slap-dash approach to cricket, can compete and even win at the international level, the sky would be the limit should they ever get their act together.