Andrew Richardson revels in new role as Volcanoes coach

Sport

Andrew Richardson revels in new role as Volcanoes coach

BY SANJAY MYERS
Senior staff reporter
myerss@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, April 16, 2020

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JAMAICAN-BORN former fast bowler Andrew Richardson says his first season as head coach at the regional level offered much-needed experience and has given him more tools to counter challenges in the future.

Richardson, who spent two seasons as Jamaica Scorpions' assistant coach, took over Windward Islands Volcanoes last October.

He guided them throughout the regional 50-over cricket competition later in the year, and the subsequent four-day tournament, which was forced to a premature end weeks ago due to the health risks arising from the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“I enjoyed my season. It was a welcomed learning curve and, personally, as a coach it will only make me better,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

“Leading from the front you'll learn from your mistakes quicker than watching somebody make the same mistakes. I've been taking notes and I definitely will be more prepared going into the next season,” Richardson, 38, said.

The Volcanoes did not progress from the group stage of the Super50, and though eyeing at least a mid-table finish in the six-team, four-day tournament, they had to settle for fifth place with only eight of the 10 rounds possible.

Barbados Pride, the runaway leaders, were awarded the four-day title.

Trinidad and Tobago Red Force were runners-up, while the previous champions Guyana Jaguars shared third place with Jamaica Scorpions. Leeward Islands Hurricanes finished last.

“I got the team like a month before the Regional Super50 preparations. I'd have loved a little bit more time. But going into the four-day season I had a better chance because I got to see more of the players and I was able to understand their skill sets and their strengths and weaknesses.

“But overall, the position that we finished in was a bit disappointing, because going into the eighth-round game we were in third position,” he said, noting that the away loss to the Red Force in what turned out to be the final-round encounter saw his team plummet to fifth.

There were bright sparks in the batting department, which was again led by former West Indies opener Devon Smith.

The veteran left-hander notched 649 runs at 46.35. Keron Cottoy, another left-hand batsman, compiled 432 runs and topped the team batting averages at 54, while Kavem Hodge scored 454 at 37.83.

Outside of left-arm swing bowler Preston McSween, who stood out with 31 wickets at 22.77, the bowling unit was nothing to write home about.

“The batting was more consistent than our bowling. Our fast bowling started out well; the first two games we were fairly decent and we executed our plans more often than not. But other than [Shane] Shillingford getting a seven-wicket haul in the second innings of the first game [against the Pride] our spinners were very disappointing this season.

“Those are the things than can separate you from just winning first-innings [advantage] as opposed to getting an outright win when you expect you spinners to turn up [in the last innings],” the Volcanoes coach, who has a contract with the franchise up to 2021, explained.

Richardson, who claimed 192 wickets at 23.96 in 68 first-class matches, told the Observer that the season's experience has given him hope.

“The feedback I get generally from most players is that they are happy with my style. I look at what my opponents are doing and how I can emulate some of the good things they are doing to win games and to win competitions. Then we can go back to the drawing board and see what are the holes we can fix going forward.

“I saw improvement in some players who put the work in and got the results. Case in point is Preston McSween, who was our outstanding bowler for the season. He got 30-plus wickets; he had his ups and downs, but when he was good he was absolutely brilliant, and that was testament to how hard he worked and the desire for success that he displayed on a daily basis.

“It was good to see Devon lead the batting charge, but it would have been a little bit more satisfying to see a younger player scoring similar [number] of runs or even more than Devon. He has tried to impart his knowledge and experience to help others,” he said.

While conceding that due to geographic constraints organising cricket amongst teams from the Windwards is a challenge, Richardson emphasised that the small islands, which supply most of the franchise's cricketers, are not short of quality prospects.

“There's a lot of talent in the Windward Islands, but ideally I'd love for the guys to play a little more outside of first-class cricket. The respective islands only have the Windward Islands tournament which was scheduled to be played round about this time.

“The territories like Barbados, Guyana, Trinidad, and Jamaica, with their club structure, have guys playing cricket week in and week out. It's probably a little more challenging for these islands to have that lengthy club season, and guys playing more cricket can probably give us better results.

“We still try to work with what we have, and all contracted players are kept together in Grenada and spend time in the nets and work on their fitness, but nothing beats game practice. The franchise does try to get even fringe players to come in and be a part of what we have going on.

“We try to play as much as we can at our facilities and to maximise on what we have. But you still have to come in and put in the work and get yourself in the frame of mind to play to the best of your ability,” he concluded.


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