February 26, 2000
Stabroek News

The Antiguan reaction to Roger Harper's appointment as coach is disgraceful

Dear Sir,

The negative reaction of the Antigua media, cricket officials and government representatives to the appointment of Roger Harper as the new coach of the West Indies is nothing short of disgraceful and disgusting.

While we appreciate the disappointment these islanders might feel at that great son of their soil, Sir Vivian Richards, being overlooked, their criticisms of Roger reflect an insularity that bodes no good for the regional game.

Not one of us would dare challenge the credentials of Vivian Richards as one of the most outstanding players the cricketing world has ever seen. His record as a successful captain remains there for all to see.

But the simple fact is that those performances on the field were not enough to meet the published criteria established by the West Indies Cricket Board for the appointment of the coach. As in every sphere of activity, the best performers are not necessarily the best coaches.

We might seek to understand the attitude of the Antiguans at the perceived 'wicked' treatment of Richards by the WICB. But we cannot understand how anyone who knows anything about cricket could describe Roger Harper as 'a little known former Test cricketer.' It is a description born out of gross ignorance.

Surely they would know that Roger Andrew Harper was representing the West Indies at the youth level since he was 17; that he captained the youth team in a 'Test' series against England, that it was through consistent performances at the regional level that he gained a place in the West Indies team; that he was an intelligent bowler and a capable batsman, a genuine all rounder; and that he was rated as one of the most dynamic fieldsmen in the history of the game.

They must know that.

But most of all they would know of his knowledge of the game, his stature and the respect he enjoyed from his peers that earned for him the position of vice-captain of the regional team.

Perhaps because Guyana is not an island and as a consequence we shun insularity and parochialism, our cricketing public never demanded proper recognition of the talents of Harper, when he was being bypassed for West Indies selection.

But have no doubt he has been an outstanding cricketer and a formidable competitor.

Most of all, though, Roger Harper is a gentleman, who has always carried himself with dignity and has been a great ambassador for the game of cricket.

I have no doubt that, rather than be distracted by the negative reactions, he will set out, by committing himself to the challenges ahead, to earn the respect of all those who now foolishly criticise him.

We must hope that the other cricketing territories in the region would roundly condemn the ugly show of insularity by those in Antigua.

Yours faithfully,
Terrence Holder
Public Relations Officer
Guyana Cricket Board

Roger will do well as coach Dear Sir,

It isn't strange that media houses and some former cricketing officials of Antigua criticised the WICB for the faith they have shown in Guyanese Roger Harper by appointing him as the Cricket Coach of the West Indies Senior Team. It is a known fact that quite a few of the islands which comprise the West Indies do not positively view Guyana as an indispensable member of West Indies cricket. Too often, we as Guyanese allow our players to be victimised and discriminated against by the West Indies cricketing officials without giving the required support to our players to cause a change in their fortune

I wish to express heartfelt congratulations to Roger Harper and to say that the occasions when all-rounders were selected as coach to the West Indies Senior Team have been very rare. I am positive that Roger will do well because, he knows what it takes to be an excellent bowler, batsman and fielder. Above all he does not have only theoretical knowledge of these requirements but has practiced and mastered all, in service to West Indies cricket.

My big question for all critics of Roger Harper is which one of your candidates can effectively and convincingly boast of the above knowledge, both theoretical and practical.

Congrats Roger, keep all the flags in the Caribbean and Guyana flying.

Yours faithfully,
Jainarine Kissoon

Good for Roger Dear Sir,

What a joyous relief it was for me to hear that Roger Harper was selected as Coach of the WI Team. When he was no longer selected to play with the side, I thought what a waste of an excellent, alert, all-rounder (in my `limited-knowledge of cricket' book), not to mention the style of a handsome piece of Guyanese humanhood!

Salutations Coach Roger, you've made us all proud and I am sure will continue to do so as we see the results of your skills as a Coach for our team.

Yours faithfully,
Ann Wishart