King still enjoys the challenge of putting Windies right
January 7, 2007
CRAB HILL, Barbados, (CMC) – With the biggest assignment of his coaching career looming on the horizon, West Indies coach Bennett King has been reflecting on his two years in the position.
The Australia-born King has been the subject of much criticism and conjecture since taking up the post in December 2004.
“You listen to it all and you hear it all, but in the end, you’ve got to focus on the things that you believe in and focus on areas that need addressing,” he told reporters on Friday in a wide-ranging interview when watching the Carib Beer Series match between Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago at the North Stars Social & Cultural Club.
“From December 2004, I’ve put together proposals for the academy and for regional cricket. It’s taken two years for them to start coming to fruition, but at least, the current board has sat down and tried to implement two of those areas that I felt were very important to progressing.
“From that perspective, I’m pleased. I’d like to know how they are going to go through the next phases and they’re coming up I suppose – the phases of the academy and the regional competition – and how we make it stronger.
“Everyone recognises the problems. We’ve got to get up and do things about the problem. Everybody has got a responsibility there, not just the West Indies Cricket Board, but everyone in the regions, from governments down to the people in the street, and recognise that we’ve put ourselves in the position we are in world cricket.”
King believes the emphasis now should be all about making regional cricket stronger and trying to get professional standards into their play.
“When players come into international cricket, they need to be better prepared,” he said.
“We keep cringing about the West Indies senior side and how they are not performing, even though they are performing a lot better. Improvement doesn’t happen unless you make change.
“If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got. I came in and I thought I was not prepared to accept what’s been happening in the past. We’ve got to try and change this.
The WICB recognises that too. It’s obvious that we’re hamstrung in certain areas. We don’t have the same sort of resources, financially, and on the ground, as the other major cricket playing nations.”
King disclosed the work ethic of the players has been mixed, but he is pleased that they are now moving in the right direction and are improving.
“Most people that I speak to have noticed improvement in the players, not just with their fitness levels, but with their way of playing,” he said.
“When we were in Malaysia, we had the best results we’ve had. That was pleasing. Before Byrce Cavanagh left, he outlined fitness programmes for the players leading up to the World Cup. The players have fitness and training programmes to follow.
“One of the keys is to have support in all the regions though. The players can’t be expected to go out there and perform all the time by themselves. They need support back home in terms of getting themselves ready for the job.”
On a replacement for fellow Australian Cavanagh, who he had brought on to be the team’s fitness and conditioning adviser, he revealead a replacement would not be ready until after the West Indies brief visit to India later this month for a bilateral series of four matches.
“We’ll put that in the hands of the cricket committee and request that we look at that as urgently as we can,” he said.
“We need to sit down and seriously plan for the person who is going to replace him. My contract ends this year. You want to try and get someone who is going to give you some kind of continuity. It’s in the pipeline. I’m not sure when it’s going to be addressed. I believe it should be addressed pretty quickly.”
King’s biggest disappointment is that he has not been able to position the side to play critical moments in matches much better.
“I am disappointed we haven’t won more games, particularly Test matches,” he said.
“There are turning points in every match, but if you play them well, and have more experience in those times, you will play well. We’re getting to that point now, although we dropped a number of vital catches in Pakistan that could have turned the series for us.”
King has been linked to the Australian coaching job, when incumbent John Buchanan leaves following the World Cup.
“With contracts with anybody, you’ve got to keep an eye to the future all the time,” he said.
“There is never a guarantee of getting a contract. You’ve got to have plans moving forward. With the Australian side, I’ve read the same reports like everybody else.”