9th May 2015
Patrolling the Boundary – a view from the outfield
Like every cricket lover from the Caribbean, I was pleasantly surprised at the performance of the West Indies team against England in the recently completed series.
But talk of turning the corner are total rubbish and unrealistic. There were hopeful signs but if the players show similar commitment and application over the coming years, there will be improvement.
I have maintained over the past 20 years that only when attitudes change will there be an improvement in the fortunes of cricket in the Caribbean.
One of the major problems affecting cricket there is sub-standard pitches. They are low and slow and you cannot develop good players on poor pitches. In 2010 during the T20 World Cup in the Caribbean, the ICC’s pitch inspector told the groundsmen that they needed to leave more grass on the pitches. This helps the ball to bounce and adds pace also. They have refused. Instead they shave every blade of grass off the pitches, thereby producing grassless surfaces of baked mud, on which the ball keep low.
A major failing in West Indies cricket has been a succession of low scores. Too many batsmen and cricket lovers feel that hitting sixes and fours is good batting. So they have been calling for Chanderpaul to be dropped for many years. Since Lara’s retirement, Shiv has been our only world class batsman. I hear that similar criticism has been leveled at Kraigg Brathwaite. These critics are cricket dunces!!
Phil Simmons is an excellent coach and a great choice. I umpired him when he played for Leicestershire in the late 80s. He was totally committed to his team whether batting, bowling or fielding and was always offering tactical advice to his captain and team mates.
If the players listen to him, I have no doubt they will improve.
John Holder is a highly respected former international umpire, who stood in Tests & ODIs between 1988-2001, and in 1st-class cricket from 1982-2009. He was also the innovative mind behind the introduction of the ‘bowl-out’ to settle washed out one-day games.