Harper non-committal on coaching future
By Tony Cozier
Stabroek News
December 2, 2002

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HE has just completed what he identified as the most satisfying assignment of his tenureas West Indies coach but Roger Harper is undecided over whether to seek an extension of his three-year contract come March.

"Right now my focus isn't on that," he said yesterday as the West Indies prepared for the last two of three one-day internationals against Bangladesh under lights at the Bangabangu Stadium here tomorrow and Tuesday.

"At the moment, I'm concentrating on the task we have here, dealing with the Bangladeshi series." He added. "When the time comes, I'll make that decision."

Harper's only other comment on the matter was that he was "not quite sure exactly who'll be in charge of the team during the Australian series," in the Caribbean next April and May.

Acting chief executive Roger Brathwaite announced last week that the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) would soon be advertising "regionally and internationally," for the posts of team manager and coach with January 15 as the deadline for applications, noting that he expected "a fairly significant response."

He said Harper and manager Ricky Skerritt, both appointed in February 2000, had been "advised that the WICB would be willing to receive applications for the re-engagement of their services."

Harper, 39, played 25 Tests for the West Indies between 1983 and 1993. He was previously the `A' team coach before his selection over the incumbent, the legendary Sir Viv Richards, that sparked inevitable controversy and protests, especially in Richards' native Antigua.

The West Indies were floundering before he took up his position and have continued to do so. The win-loss record in the 37 Tests under his charge is 8-19 but a spirited end to the recent tour of India was a timely boost.

It began with a strong showing in the drawn third Test after losses in the first two and culminated with a 4-3 triumph in the one-day series.

Harper rated it the high point of his term and predicted further improvement for the youthful team.

"A lot of quality teams have not managed to beat India in anything in India," he said. "This team has managed to do that with the young players leading the way."

He contended that the public often expected too much, too quickly of an emerging team, admitting that he himself was culpable in that regard.

"I think we're just beginning to see the results of three years of hard work," he said adding. "We all knew that there was a lot of talent there but now the mental strength is beginning to show."

"The players are now beginning to understand how they are going to be successful on a consistent basis at this level," he maintained. "We're beginning to stick to a plan, to follow a system more in our whole approach as a team. If we continue to do that, we can only ger better and better."

Harper was especially pleased with how they approached the batting in the one-day series in India.

"If you looked at the way we played in India, everything demanded that we were more aggressive, especially in our batting," he said. "I think we now have the sort of players who understand exactly how to approach it."

But he cautioned against disregarding the lessons learned in India.

"The important thing we, as a team, have to take away from the Indian tour is the understanding of how we achieved what we achieved," he said. "If we don't continue to build on the methodology and the whole approach used in India, it'll be wasted."

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