Cozier: Last 10 months for WI agonising
Guyana Chronicle
August 31, 2004

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC - Long-standing Caribbean cricket writer/broadcaster Tony Cozier said the next six months are as critical to the future of West Indies cricket as any such period has ever been.

Cozier believes that if next April the home series against South Africa still produces underachievement, failure and humiliation that have become as familiar a West Indies trademark over the past five years as triumph, excellence and pride once were, the repercussions for West Indies cricket would be too dire to contemplate.

The cancellation of the intervening Test series in Australia has come as a blessing in disguise,” Cozier wrote in his regular column, Cozier On Cricket, in the Sunday Sun newspaper in his native Barbados.

It provides a welcome breathing space for long overdue remedial action to be taken, much of it extreme, all of it necessary and urgent. Brian Lara has made the obvious call to the West Indies Cricket Board to use the opportunity properly.”

Cozier charged that the WICB had been delinquent in coming to grips with the problems that have brought the West Indies team to its present sorry state.

It and several of the boards that comprise it have been too often involved in internal power struggles, unrelated to the game itself, to properly carry out their mandate,” he said.

Finally, and at last, the WICB has recognised the need to grasp the several nettles through which West Indies cricket has stumbled for so long. If it needed any prompting, an examination of the Test team’s record since last November should suffice.”

Cozier noted that several fundamental changes to the way the team and the board itself are run had been announced, and all will take some getting used to by all concerned.

Some have already met with muted opposition,” he wrote. “Change never comes easily, but only change can prevent a further drop into the abyss.

Their effect can only be assessed in the long term. It was the short term that Lara had in mind when he pleaded to the WICB to put to proper use the period between the Champions Trophy at the end of next month and the next international engagement, the VB Series in Australia in January.”

Cozier believes that West Indies may still not be able to put the pieces back together again so quickly to seriously challenge South Africa in the Caribbean, but a start can be made.

It will require the new head coach, all his back-up staff and all his men to be thoroughly committed to swift improvement,” he wrote.

It is difficult to know where to start since every aspect of the team’s cricket has been shattered by the indiscipline and the indifference that have contributed to its mediocrity.”

Cozier has also called for specialised assistance for the new head coach once he has established himself and spelt out what he expects of the professional players on whose performances his job depends.

He cannot possibly handle it all on his own from the start,” Cozier said.

A psychologist is needed to counter the mental weakness that has led to repeated collapses under the slightest pressure.

A fielding coach is imperative to check the deterioration that rendered the West Indies - the West Indies of Learie Constantine, Clive Lloyd, Viv Richards, Roger Harper and Gus Logie - an object of ridicule this summer.

He added:Concentrated help from the several West Indians highly qualified to give it, if not by certificates, but by experience, would assist the batch of fast bowlers which has appeared in the past year or two.

And someone who can explain why as many as 16 West Indian players have had to miss matches in the past nine months and, more to the point, can provide an antidote would be worth his weight in Guyanese gold.”

Overall, Cozier concludes that the most important element needed right now was support for the entire programme, particularly from the territorial cricket boards.