Guyana's cricket needs new coaching policy Orin Davidson's Eye on Sport
Stabroek News
March 10, 2002

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It should be known even in the deepest reaches of the underdeveloped cricket world that talent alone cannot bring a sportsman success.

For those who need reminding in the West Indies, this fact was reinforced by West Indies Cricket Board president Wes Hall at the press breakfast yesterday to launch the 2002 Shell Academy of St George's University in Grenada, for young regional cricketers.

This knowledge though, is sometimes lost on some cricket administrators in the region who have failed to appreciate the importance of coaches as one of the key components required to transform ordinary teams into successful ones.

Having been introduced only in recent times to regional cricket, it is often difficult for many individuals associated with West Indies cricket in the early days, to appreciate that coaches can be the difference between success and defeat.

Nevertheless it has become part and parcel of regional territorial teams and as a direct result, coaches are now appointed for first class and junior competitions.

Like the other six territories, Guyana followed suit and have had coaches for the Busta Cup, Red Stripe Bowl and Under-19 and Under-15 teams.

Those teams have had success, most notably the Under-19 side which won six successive titles between 1992 to 1997, but overall one cannot be convinced the group of coaches appointed over the years, have made a big difference in the im-provement of players and teams on the whole.

Cricket like any other team sport results can be influenced by the individual brilliance of players where the mettle of coaches is not fully tested.

After captain Clive Lloyd, who in those days performed the duties as coach, honed his West Indies team of the 1970s and 1980's into the world beating unit after years of prior failure, Vivian Richards took over and continued the success streak with the said players and ended up as the most successful regional team captain ever, having never lost a series at the helm.

Thus the ability of a coach can only be measured when he brings success to a team devoid of the exceptionally gifted players.

Since Guyana won the Nortel Under-19 title in 1997, they have not even come close to winning another championship.

Last year's experience for the local team in the regional competition was one of the most humiliating for many years, when for the second year in succession of hosting it, Guyana finished in the lower half of the points table and were eliminated early in the limited overs series.

It was clearly evident that during those two years and prior, the coach could not produce the goods without players of rare individual brilliance, even with the home advantage.

The ability to mould those teams of average players into well-oiled units, though, among other factors motivation was solely lacking at the time.

Yet for the first international competition in 2002, one sees no significant change in the coaching appointment as there is every hint that the same group of individuals responsible for past failures will be recycled for the year's remaining assignments. For the upcoming regional Under-15 competition, Michael Hyles who coached last year's Under-19 team, and who experienced an embarrassing torrent of verbal abuse from fans at the Everest ground, when Guyana lost its final game to the Leeward Islands, has now been given another chance with the more junior squad, despite failing to make any impression in previous stints.

The Under-19 competition is next and it will be no surprise if another failure from this exclusive group is re-assigned for another unjustified ride. This musical chairs of coaches is contributing to a decline in Guyana's reputation as a top West Indies cricketing territory and one suspects it is as a result of the abominable bartering of team officials' appointments among the three area boards of Berbice, Demerara and Essequibo which make up the Guyana Cricket Board.

Many of these coaches may have acquired certificates from regional courses from which one hardly hears of any failures, but it does not mean they can perform in real situations under pressure.

American tennis coach Richard Williams never held a formal tennis coaching certificate but he was good enough to develop his daughters Venus and Serena into the two best players in the world.

Coaching is primarily about having the communication skills to pass on knowledge and influence to make better competitors out of one's charges.

And the Guyana Cricket Board must take cognisance of the fact that the time is ripe to make fresh changes in its policy of appointing officials. Proper administration is all about recognising and appreciating talent not only from theoretical performance from actual proven physical capabilities.

There are many young knowledgeable ex cricketers around who would have been exposed to proper coaching and would rise to the challenge of coaching our national teams.

Trinidad and Tobago has taken the lead with Ian Bishop and Phil Simmons who have performed in that capacity while the exploits of Gus Logie with the West Indies Under-19 and Under-15 teams are well known.

Guyana would do well to follow suit.