FOLLOWING the historic win by the West Indies over Australia during the Fourth Cable & Wireless Test Match at the Antigua Recreation Ground, the West Indies Cricket Board paid tribute to Dennis Waight, who was the trainer of the senior West Indies team for over two decades.
Those with short memories may ask why should Dennis Waight be thanked by the WICB? Quite simply, he played a major role in building the supremacy of the West Indies in world cricket that lasted right through the 1980s and into the first half of the 1990s.
Never before had West Indian players been fitter and this was reflected in the performance of so many of them on the competitive world stage.
Dennis had performed this role for the West Indies team during Kerry Packerís World Series Cricket and he did such a good job with that team that the WICB decided to take him on for the official West Indies side.
His first tour under the employ of the WICB was to Australia in 1979- 80. He continued performing the roles of trainer and physiotherapist continuously until 2000.
This rugged Australian came into West Indies cricket from the physically demanding sport of rugby in his homeland where he was a trainer. He adapted his vast experience in developing and maintaining the fitness of top rugby players to the sport of cricket.
Clive Lloyd, the West Indies captain for most of those successful years, fully supported Dennis with his revolutionary measures to keep the guys fit by enthusiastically participating in all of the activities.
For example, it was not unusual for the West Indies team to go on five-mile runs to maintain their fitness. Their rigorous exercise regime not only earned them strength and stamina, but prevented injuries.
In addition, Dennis was able to help extend the careers of many top players of that era through maintaining a high level of fitness. For example, Lloyd went on playing until the ripe age of 40 and Joel Garner continued as a mean fast bowler until his mid-30s.
Apart form the role of trainer Dennis doubled as physiotherapist for the team. While he was not a qualified physiotherapist, he had a wealth of experience in this field and had taken several courses from time to time. While he was demanding as a trainer, he consistently exhibited a high degree of care for the health and well being of his charges.
A key ingredient of his success was the excellent relationships that he was able to build with members of the West Indies team. He earned their respect particularly because of his own phenomenal fitness and commitment to the task.
Dennis also provided wise counsel to many West Indies managers over the years, who benefitted from his in-depth knowledge of each player.
Although he was an Australian, few born West Indians are more passionate about West Indies Cricket than Dennis. His loyalty to the team and their success was unquestionable and outstanding.
The West Indies Cricket Board goes on record in expressing its appreciation to Dennis for his outstanding contribution to West Indies cricket and his role in establishing and maintaining the dominance of the West Indies team during the 1980s and early 1990s. May he forever be remembered as a true West Indian!