Windies coach keen to learn from ex-stars

By Ezra Stuart
Guyana Chronicle
May 18, 2001

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent, (CANA) - After a year of mixed fortunes in the job as coach of a deteriorating regional cricket side, Roger Harper says he is keen to learn and receive advice from former West Indies players.

Harper made the disclosure while speaking to reporters after the West Indies gained a consolation six-wicket victory over South Africa in the seventh match of the Cable and Wireless One-Day series which the visitors won 5-2.

"I've had a few conversations with Viv (Sir Vivian Richards) in Australia. I've worked and spoken to Gordon Greenidge and lot of other people (but) I haven't spoken to Gary (Sir Garfield Sobers).

"Those guys who have played the game for the amount of years they have and with success that they have had, they have a tremendous amount of knowledge and I am willing to learn from anyone who has something to offer," Harper said.

With South Africa winning the preceding Test series 2-1, it was Harper's third consecutive defeat after he won home series against Zimbabwe and Pakistan last year.

MORE DISCIPLINE He reckons South Africa won both the Test and Limited overs series because they were more disciplined than the West Indies.

"Here, again, we played a very disciplined side, a very professional side," Harper noted.

"A side which I don't think is that far ahead of us in terms of talent but in cricketing acumen, I think they are ahead of us and much more disciplined than we are and we can learn from teams like this," Harper contends.

TRUE TEST Harper says the true Test of the West Indies will come during next month's tour of Zimbabwe.

According to Harper, Zimbabwe is "a very competitive team" but "not a talented team as the others".

"We have to show what we have learnt from the series against Australia in Australia, what we have learnt from competing against South Africa in the West Indies. I think that will be the series that will really judge us," Harper added.

MENTAL PREPARATION "We have a psychologist with us who is working in this area (mental preparation) but I think what you have to understand, I look at a player like (Andre) Nel from South Africa.

"I saw him in his first One-Day International in Trinidad and when I looked at him bowl, he didn't look to me like a player who is playing in his first One-Day International. He slotted in and the question we have to ask is why," Harper said.

"The question we have to ask ourselves is - are our players being properly prepared for the level of competition they are going to face when they get up here? Harper asked.

TOUGHER COMPETITION "We need tougher competition at first-class level. That means we have to produce better quality of first-class players. It means we got to produce a better quality of club cricketers," declared Harper. "It's got to go all the way down. I think you can't expect a player to just walk into a West Indies team and automatically wave a magic wand and he becomes a quality cricketer.

"We have to prepare him, we have to make him a quality player prior to his getting here. I am not saying it can't happen here but it is going to take some time," Harper remarked.

W.I to address key areas at two-week camp
By Ezra Stuart

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent, (CANA) - West Indies will be moving swiftly to mend three of the key areas which have contributed heavily to their series of dismal results in international cricket over the past three years.

In the aftermath of the Test and One-Day double defeat inflicted by South Africa, team coach Roger Harper revealed that "fitness, tactics and technique" will be main planks in the healing process at a two-week camp ahead of their historic mid-year tour of Zimbabwe.

West Indies, beaten in their last three-Test series, will be making their first senior team tour of Zimbabwe and Harper is hoping the camp, to be held in Trinidad and Tobago from month-end will go a long way towards reviving the regional outfit.

"We will be placing a lot of emphasis on fitness, the first half of the camp will be dedicated specifically to fitness and in the second part of the camp, we will be working on a few technical and tactical areas," Harper said.

Harper said the Zimbabwe-bound players would receive assistance from some former West Indies cricketers.

"We are trying to get a few more coaches in so that they can pay a little more individual attention to players that need some specific assistance," Harper said.

Harper gave mixed views about retaining specialist batting and bowling coaches to work with the team.

"I don't necessarily see the need for that many coaches all the time with the team but I think from time to time, it would be good to have specialist coaches around especially when players have difficulty in their special areas, to come and work with these players," Harper reasoned.

"A camp is the ideal opportunity really because there is not the pressure of competition and you can relax and just focus on areas that you think you need to work specifically on," Harper said.

The West Indies selectors will shortly announce a 20-member squad from which a final 16 for next month's tour of Zimbabwe, will be selected.