IN AUGUST two years ago, the West Indies Cricket Board's development plan entitled Creating the Infrastructure for the Sustained Development of Cricket Talent was completed.
Implementation was initially restricted by the financial constraints of the WICB. Despite the continuing financial constraints and, in recognition of the critical need to commit resources to development, the WICB's directors approved the development budget of US $2 million in November last year. Of this amount, US $600,000 was directly provided to the territorial boards.
As of December 31 last year, significant progress has been made in implementing the development plan.
The revamped Level I coaching has been re-launched with programmes taking place in Guyana, Bermuda, Anguilla, Antigua and Jamaica. These programmes have trained close to 100 persons.
A revamped Level II re-accreditation course was conducted in Trinidad in November training 27 regional coaches including a representative of the West Indies Women Cricket Federation. Graduates included former international stars like Kenny Benjamin, Keith Arthurton and Ezra Moseley, as well as current player Reon King. The Level I and II courses are part of the WICB's articulated system of coach- education geared to produce more effective and better-equipped coaches.
Significant strides have been made in resource-development. A Level I manual has been published and electronic resources have been developed for each module of the Level I curriculum. These resources include digitised footage of West Indies test-icons from our glory days. Similar resources are being developed for Level II and the coaching- manual is already in draft.
In the area of continuing-education, eight coaches benefitted from a three-week resident-training programme facilitated by expertise brought in from Australia at the Shell Cricket Academy in Grenada. This was a follow up to a major up-skilling of regional coaches that occurred in March in Trinidad & Tobago by the same Australian experts.
A fast-bowling clinic, facilitated by Andy Roberts and Kenny Benjamin, was held in Antigua in December. A finger-spinner's clinic, facilitated by Lance Gibbs and Clyde Butts was also held in Antigua in January this year. This is part of an on-going programme aimed at developing the skills in each cricket-discipline using the expertise readily available in the region. These clinics have been redesigned to focus on game-centred training. New modules include detecting and exploiting batting errors, biomechanics, and video analysis. These methodologies would create a better learning environment. A database of attendees to these clinics has been developed as part of the Emerging Player Programme.
The WICB Development Unit has completed the curriculum that would lead to a Certificate in Personal Development. This is a modular programme that would be offered in the classroom and by distance aimed at equipping cricketers with those life-skills that are essential to succeed in life at cricket and after cricket. In addition, we have instituted literacy and numeracy-instruments that would measure the educational level of young cricketers; we use the results solely for remedial work. Although these instruments have been applied primarily to the Shell Academy intake, their application would be applied to all of the WICB's development competitions.
The WICB Development Unit has also completed a Teacher's Manual entitled Clarence Goes to School. This is an attempt to develop cross-curricular resources to complement the ScotiaBank Kiddy Cricket programme. The manual will be launched in February.
The WICB has also supported the development of women's cricket. In this regard we have trained WIWCF coaches and have provided tangible support to their regional tournaments. We have made the services of Gus Logie available to prepare our women's cricket team for a series in the West Indies against Sri Lanka in March and for the International Women's Cricket Council Trophy in Holland in July. We will continue to assist in the development of women's cricket in the region.
Another successful year of the Shell Cricket Academy was completed last year. There were four West Indian graduates and four graduates from the Americas region. We have also reached agreement with St. George's University on a number of key areas that will improve the effectiveness of the Shell Cricket Academy.
Another critical area is the recruitment of WICB Territorial Development Officers. These officers are in place in Guyana, Windward Islands and Jamaica. Within the next month, officers will be in place in the other territories. The strategy here is to localise the WICB's Development Programme and, at the same time, place development resources at the territorial level.
What are the plans for this year? Within the next week or so, a calendar of development events will be produced. These events include: Level I coaching courses to be conducted throughout the region between March and November. We anticipate a minimum of 12 such courses training or re-accrediting nearly 150 coaches.There would be one Level II course in Jamaica around Easter and another in a territory to be identified in November.
The Certificate in Personal Development will be launched and specific special focus training will be conducted on a needs basis. In October, we plan to conduct leadership seminars for young Test and first-class cricketers.
In our efforts to hunt for talent, we will implement a system of scouting which will attempt to identify talent in clubs and communities. Particular attention will be placed on finding fast bowlers. This scouting will be one aspect of our Talent Identification and Development Programme to be launched in 2003.
The WICB 'Emerging Player Programme', which began in December last year, will be expanded this year. The best talent from the Under-13, Under-15 and Under-19 programmes will be identified and placed in our database.
Remedial clinics in all cricket disciplines will be held in 2003. Special emphasis will be placed on implementing a wicket-keeping development programme aimed at identifying wicket-keeping talent at an early stage.
The Shell Cricket Academy programme for this year will commence in May. In addition, the WICB will work with territorial boards to establish mini-academies (or Centres of Excellence). In this regard special attention will be given to Jamaica, Guyana and the already existing St. Kitts Cricket Academy. The mentoring programme will be launched this year.
In closing, it is clear the WICB's development programme is alive and well. The WICB's Development Unit has a new look and will be easily recognisable this year as our calendar of events is implemented across the region.
We must recognise the role of the Cricket Committee, comprising such icons as Sir Everton Weekes, Sir Vivian Richards, Rev. Wes Hall and others, in directing and monitoring the work of the WICB's Development Unit.
The coming year will be an important one as we continue in our quest to return West Indies Cricket to its winning ways.