Learning from the greatest of them all
Across the Board (from the West Indie Cricket Board)
Stabroek News
December 7, 2003

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THREE of the Caribbean's most promising, young players had the chance of a lifetime to benefit from tips from "the greatest cricketer on Earth or Mars".

Through an initiative of the West Indies Cricket Board, the Right Excellent, Sir Garfield Sobers imparted some of his vast knowledge to Devon Smith, Narsingh Deonarine and Ryan Hinds, all left-handers with great potential, who, some would argue, seem to have lost their form and confidence in recent months.

Setting up the three young players with Sir Garfield is no accident. The WICB is very much aware of the wealth of his expertise, and his willingness to share his enormous knowledge with our promising players.

His assignment with the three young cricketers is not a new initiative.

It's the continuation of a deliberate process that the Board has embarked upon over the last few years to bring the present and past generation of West Indies cricketers much closer for the mutual benefit of both sides and, indeed, the game.

Sir Garfield has indicated that he would not like to be thrust into the role of coach or manager of any team, but would prefer to work in a consultative manner, where he would help prepare our teams when we have training camps prior to competitions.

It is a considerable gesture that he is willing to take time from his busy schedule to devote to West Indies cricket. We appreciate it and are examining how best we can utilise his skills. Considering the state of our cricket, we must make the most of this golden icon.

Cricketers from other countries who want a word of advice on how to fix their game regularly seek out Sir Garfield. He has much to offer and we know the kind of impact a session with him can make. Only days after the clinic with the three young players, Hinds went on to score a century in the Arawak Cup in Barbados. It was the left-hander's first major innings for a long time.

This leads Sir Garfield to believe, like many West Indies cricket fans, that there is plenty of talent around the Caribbean.

What rankles him, like most, is the inability of the players to transform that potential into production when it matters most - out in the middle.

He believes there are little things that the players can change to make a difference in their game. For example, he has noticed that some of the current players move into position too late or their bats are not moving in the correct way, but his main complaint is that there is a lack of understanding and thought being put into the game. Sir Garfield explained that there were many good players in the Caribbean, but that they do not seem to be able to think on their feet. The basics are sadly lacking at times and the players do not seem able to play under pressure, he added.

The cricketing legend, however, has enormous praise for the players.

Every time he has had an opportunity to work with them, individually or collectively, their response has been overwhelming and he has seen some improvements in the way they play. This is why the WICB embarked upon the programme to link former players with current players - because of the enormous benefits that we know can be accrued from this kind of interaction.

With clinics like the one with Sir Garfield, camps for fast bowlers with Andy Roberts and Kenny Benjamin, spin bowling camps with Lance Gibbs, the Shell Cricket Academy at the St. George's University in Grenada, and other such developmental projects, the WICB believes that we will begin to reap the rewards in the not-too-distant future.

Send comments or queries to: WEST INDIES CRICKET BOARD, Factory Road, P.O. Box 616W, St. John's, Antigua, West Indies, Tel: (268) 481-2450, Fax: (268) 481-2498, E-mail: wicb@windiescricket.com ; Or SAUNDERS-FRANKLYN ASSOCIATES INC., Suite #4, Wildey Plaza, Wildey, St. Michael, Barbados, West Indies, Tel: (246) 437-5588, Fax (246) 437-5593, E-mail: saunders@sunbeach.net . ends-