Windies have internal problems
- says Dr Rudy Webster

By Tony Cozier
Stabroek News
December 22, 1999

TheE West Indies team badly beaten in the first Test in New Zealand on Monday is stronger than it was when it held Australia to a drawn series at home last season, Dr Rudi Webster asserted yesterday.

But it is being adversely affected by off-the-field problems.

"There are other factors apart from ability that determine how well you perform," the sports psychologist said from his home in Grenada yesterday. "We need to be a bit more analytical and a bit less critical. We have to ask why did the team perform so well against Australia and the same team is performing so poorly now."

Dr.Webster was official "performance consultant" when the West Indies came out of the slump of a 5-0 drubbing in South Africa and a heavy first Test loss to share the series with the powerful Australians 2-2.

"I think this team is better now except for the absence of Curtly Ambrose," he said. "We were without Shivnarine Chanderpaul for the whole series and Carl Hooper for the first two Tests and had three players were weren't ready for cricket at this level".

As was the case against Australia, the West Indies need to go back to the basics of batting, bowling, fielding and captaincy, he said.

"I was confident that if we did that against the Australians, we would become more competitive and that if we could put pressure on them, we would have a chance of beating them," he noted. "If we can be competitive against New Zealand I think we'll beat them because they are not as good a team as Australia," he added.

Dr.Webster pointed out that the averages of the main West Indies batsmen - captain Lara (51), Jimmy Adams (47), Chanderpaul (40) and Sherwin Campbell (37) - were better than all the New Zealanders except Craig McMillan (43) and even better than most South Africans in the 5-0 whitewash last season.

"Some people disregard statistics but statistics are a good benchmark of the level of ability and the talent is obviously there," Dr.Webster said.

He identified the lack of counselling for Chanderpaul following the trauma of his accidental shooting of a policeman in Georgetown earlier this year, the failure to recognise why Lara is underachieving and squabbling within the management as the main issues adversely affecting the team.

"Chanderpaul had an unfortunate incident a few months ago and I don't know what has been done to help him," Dr.Webster said.

With his experience of several years residence in Australia and New Zealand, Dr.Webster claimed that, if something like that had happened there, "someone from the executive would have got experts to counsel this young man to try to refocus him on the job he has to do on the cricket field".

"Instead of that, we had a member of the management team launching a broadside attack on the same individual in the press," he noted, referring to manager Clive Lloyd's open criticism of Chanderpaul for not playing enough competitive cricket.

"Here is a guy who has been through a very serious incident, has probably had no counselling and then gets attacked by the management and we expect him to go out and do well," he said.

Dr.Webster remarked that Lara is playing so far below his potential that "something must be basically wrong".

"Here's a batsman who has the record Test score of 375, who is the only batsman to score 500 in first-class cricket and who virtually held Australia to a draw by himself less than a year ago," he said. "To see him playing now, you would have to know something is drastically wrong."

"I think we have to find out what it is and then address it," he advised.

Dr.Webster was also concerned with the open discord within management.

"We have a member of the management group attacking, in a very personal way, the chairman of selectors," he said in reference to manager Lloyd's description of selection chief Mike Findlay as "old and crotchety".

"All these things can impact on the players," he added. "I'm not trying to make excuses but if the team behind the team is not doing its job properly, then it's very difficult for the team on the field to do theirs."

Dr Webster believes new coach Viv Richards, the former Test captain, has a "very difficult job" lifting his players for the remainder of the series in New Zealand.

"If you go through a series of questions, you will find that the problems they are having are all originating in their heads," he said. "They are not using their mental skills, like concentration, properly and their confidence has got to be down."

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