Caribbean cricket needs change - coach King By Simon Evans
Guyana Chronicle
April 17, 2007

Related Links: Articles on Windies cricket
Letters Menu Archival Menu

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (Reuters) - West Indies coach Bennett King said Caribbean cricket needed change to take advantage of the legacy of the World Cup if the results of the side are to improve in the future.

The hosts have lost all four of their second-stage Super Eight matches leaving them with virtually no chance of reaching the semi-finals and attention is already turning to how the decline of West Indian cricket can be reversed.

"We have to make sure that some of the structures we are looking to put in place off the field are actually put in place. Our performance will stay the same unless we make a move and progress," Australian King told reporters this week.

The hosting of the World Cup had meant new stadiums and training facilities have been built across the region and the coach, who helped draft a development plan for the region's cricket, is keen that they are fully taken advantage of.

"It is only in the last month that we have had these facilities up and running. It is going to take time, nothing happens overnight. Certainly the boys have the skill but they need the support," he said.

"Now we have the facilities my priority is to make sure those facilities can be maintained in each of the regions. We have to look at how we are going to support groundstaff to maintain training facilities.

"There are new gym facilities but who is going to look after the gym facilities? Who is going to run them? Are they going to be accessible to players? What are the costs involved? These are questions that I can't answer and I don't know who can," added King.

The Australian said the key to bringing Caribbean cricket up to the level of other countries is ensuring that support is present across all of the islands that make up the collective West Indian side so that players get well treated before reaching the full international stage.

The biggest problem confronting the West Indian Cricket Board is lack of resources, however. The governing body has debts that are reported in local media to be between $15-20 million and King says that limits the chances of progress.

"We are $15 million in debt and we are trying to get people to put money in -- we have to clear that debt before we can move forward.

"It's pretty obvious when you compare what we have got with what every other nation has got. You can't get blood out of a stone sometimes but what we can still do is try to get performances out of players," he said.

But King is optimistic about the quality of young players coming through in the Caribbean and believes that is more than a match for rival countries.

"I've seen a very high number of players -- and I have been in the Australian system -- who have had more skill and ability at that age.

"In the 15 to 18 years age group you have an enormous amount of talent but it has got to be nurtured and harnessed and moved forward.

"We haven't got the same things as other countries but we can't use that as an excuse all the time. We have to find a way to make use of that talent," he said.

West Indies face Bangladesh on Thursday before finishing off their Super Eight games against England on Saturday.