Players were focused during camp - Harper

Guyana Chronicle
June 13, 2001

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CANA - West Indies' coach Roger Harper has revealed that the regional cricketers displayed a high level of maturity in the face of adversity during their preparatory training camp in Trinidad and Tobago for the tour of Zimbabwe and Kenya.

Team manager Ricky Skerritt was sacked days before the start of the camp and his reinstatement a week later prompted the resignation of West Indies Cricket Board's (WICB) president Pat Rousseau and his deputy Clarvis Joseph but Harper said the players remained focused despite the internal conflict.

"Well naturally. When things like that happen, it creates some sort of distraction but I think we managed to keep the players focused on their tasks which is preparing for the trip to Zimbabwe and I think the players handled the situation very well," Harper told CANA on the eve of the team's departure.

"They were focused, they worked hard and they understand how important this tour of Zimbabwe is and I don't think that they allowed anything to really distract them," Harper added.

Harper said the two-week camp "went very well" and the benefits of it would be seen in Zimbabwe.

"I think the first week in particular where a lot of attention was paid to conditioning, everyone enjoyed it. A lot of progress was made but also during this week, we focused on team-building as well," Harper said.

"I think that the way the programme was designed players had to help each other and had to rally around each other in order to come through the sessions and they did that very well," Harper remarked.

He said the advice from former Test stalwarts Gordon Greenidge and Andy Roberts during the technical sessions should also benefit the players.

"They did as much as they could in the short space of time because five days really is a short space of time to try to see what technical assistance they could give to the individual players.

"The important thing was that they made them more and more aware of the areas that they need to work on and how those areas can be improved. We expect to see the benefit of this when we get to Zimbabwe," Harper said.

Concerning his visit to Zimbabwe before the camp started on a scouting exercise, Harper said he "had a look around at the conditions and the facilities in both Harare and Bulawayo" where the two Tests will be played July 19-23 and July 27-31.

"We expect the wicket at Harare to be fairly grassy. There is a thick matting of grass and even though they said they would shave a lot of it off, I don't think they will be able to get all of it off," Harper said.

"I understand it bounces a bit but very slowly. It is a sort of loopy tennis ball bounce in Bulawayo. The wicket is fairly true and very good for batting. I understand the batsmen enjoy it there.

"I think the condition will be similar to England during a good summer and we expect to be able to cope with these conditions. We'll have a few games to get ourselves attuned and I am sure that the team will handle itself very well there," Harper declared.

He also reported that there were no injury worries in the team.

"Everyone is fit as far as I know and raring to go. There is the usual niggles but nothing to cause any concern at this time," Harper said.

The West Indian players were assembling in Barbados yesterday before their departure later in the day.

The tour starts on Sunday with a One-Day match against the CFX Academy at Harare.

Before opposing Zimbabwe in two Tests, the Windies will also join their host and India for a triangular One-Day series.

The West Indies' first match in this competition will be against Zimbabwe on June 23.