Bridgetown, Barbados, April 22 - (www.bcacricket.org) - The Barbados Cricket Association held its awards ceremony for the 2017 season on Friday, April 20 at Kensington Oval.
Following is the feature address by Mac Fingall, entitled Back To Winning Ways: Taking West Indies and Barbados Cricket Forward
Firstly, I will deal with the CONSTRUCTION of the team. No longer should we just look at averages alone in choosing a national or regional team. There needs to be far more due diligence. We need to pay strict attention to the individual’s state of mind, (his temperament), his attitude - in essence his personality.
We must also look at his height, weight, strength, speed, quickness, leadership qualities, punctuality, toughness, ability to retain information, ability to carry out instructions, eagerness to learn, his friends, his accustomed diet, his hobbies, his habits, his lifestyle, his religion, his long-term plans, his sexuality, medical issues (including allergies and surgeries), history, employment, what music he prefers, criminal record, education (academic qualifications), if he is a smoker, his philosophy of life, marital status, does he have children, if he uses drugs, injury prone, belonged to any organized body, ever competed in any other sport!
To some of you these things might seem ridiculous and unnecessary and others might say “what that got to do with batting and bowling”.
Herein lies the problem. The cricket has evolved into psychological warfare, intimidation and a “win at all cost” mentality. No longer is it the “Gentleman’s Game”. Therefore “Gentle” men cannot play this game and achieve much success and success is what is going to define you. Success is what is expected. Success is your Goal. And if we are not going to make these adjustments and continue to live in the past then it is either that we find teams with the same weak disposition or we play “Hop Scotch” or pitch marbles.
In constructing this team, from the physical standpoint, we need TALL fast bowlers with emphasis on FAST. This way we would be able to counter the current opponents who are all equipped with pace bowlers who are way over 6ft in height and bowling constantly at 150 kph.
We have Kemar Roach who has reached 150 kph but he is only a 5 footer thereby not being physically able to produce the threatening type of bounce which Newton’s 3rd law of motion suggests would result from a 6ft 5’ bowler with that same pace.
Australia, England and South Africa all have armed themselves with fast bowlers ranging from 6ft 3 ins to 6ft 8 ins – all bowling consistently over 150 kph which equals 93.2057 mph. Our 6ft 7 ins men bowl medium pace.
Newton’s 3rd law of motion allows fast bowlers at 6ft 7 ins to get the ball to veer up from close to the body of the batsman with speed that gives the batsman 0.42 secs reaction time. Mitchell Starc at 6ft 6 ins has given even less reaction time at 0.39 secs.
Such deliveries, biomechanically speaking, make life quite difficult when aimed at the body. Remember when we had the likes of Garner, Ambrose, Walsh and Holding. Now the tables have turned. We did not only win because we made more runs, we won because the opposition didn’t make many.
We must now recruit batsmen who can handle this type of bowling. Again, biomechanics come into play for it is the taller and shorter batsmen who are more likely to survive. The medium height players, 5ft 8 ins to 6ft, will have difficulty and for sure that will be exploited by the opposition.
A batsman like Carlos Brathwaite, who I believe should be playing Test cricket instead of 20/20 would handle those deliveries quite well because of his height. Carlos’ batting intelligence was displayed in two (2) Test innings against the mighty Australia with two (2) half-centuries.
His famous innings in the 20/20 World Cup did not require any particular intelligence. With 19 to get off the last over, there was only one sensible decision available – swing at the ball. That is what he did and he connected. But if you watch his Test innings you will see calculated batting intelligence. His bowling is more likely to be “containing” in Test cricket than in 20/20. He is also an excellent catcher. The construction of our national and regional teams can no longer just be chosen on averages. Intense scouting, recruiting and due diligence must be applied.
The Barbados Cricket Association must be commended for the amount of youth cricket that is being played but I believe that more attention has to be paid to the preparation of these young people for “after cricket” life. As we all know you cannot make a living just playing for Barbados. By “living” I mean, own a house, have a car, provide for family, rare children – live comfortably after Cricket.
The Sports Council cannot hold all. All can’t be commentators or umpires. So what are they going to do when cricket finishes with them at 35 or 38? They now have more years to live than they have lived, and they have got to eat.
I believe that the BCA should create an arm of the organization to provide counselling for such eventualities.
I also believe that in order to improve the quality of cricket especially in the Elite Division, there should at least be four (4) pre-season games for each team. These could be in the 50-over format with all the rules and regulations, officials, umpires, coverage, and commentary as prevails in the regular competition, but no points given. This would allow for “match practice”. Teams would then be ready for “Match Cricket” when the season officially begins.
MARKETING must take a whole new face. Marketing of the game has to be vigorous. Merchandising; Appealing to children; Giveaways at games; contests on radio, in the Press and at games. Cricket should be promoted to the point where the anticipation is “ in the air”.
All attempts must be made to eliminate “FAVOURITISM”. Favouritism will erode the team from the inside. Favouritism is a disease – a cancer.
Politicians must stay out of cricketing decisions. Let the Boards do their work and solve their own problems.
LEADERSHIP is critical. The choice of Captain too has to undergo great due diligence. That role is too vital to be taken lightly. Most people don’t see leadership as a special skill. They tend to pick the team and then choose a leader from among them. That method is not choosing a leader due to leadership qualities. He is chosen as a batsman or bowler and then given leadership, so when he doesn’t make runs or take wickets there is much talk that he can’t hold his play in the team so he shouldn’t be captain. If he were chosen for leadership first, then he would only be up for ridicule if the team is failing miserably.
I remember my cousin Basil Butcher, a former West Indian cricketer who stayed at our home on some of his visits, talking about Sir Frank Worrell. He never referred to his batting or bowling. He repeatedly said that Sir Frank Worrell was a Great statesman and a great leader. He spoke of how Worrell was able to mold the team and he made mention on several occasions about respect given and received. I should mention that Sir Frank was the first black captain of the West Indies Cricket Team. What a challenge that must have been. We all know of his success.
I believe that Sammy was a good leader and that we were beginning to reap success under him. I believe that we even defeated Australia in one game during a home series. I believe that his punishment was too harsh. Even prisoners get parole, and murder-accused get bail. He was treated as if he had committed treason.
I must also say that our Captains must know that they are failures as Captain and do the honourable thing and step down. I noticed that Amla and others have done it.
INGREDIENTS. The ingredients of anything demand the result. You make Ginger tea using Ginger. When you make Pineapple cake, it must have some semblance of Pineapple. Some of the ingredients necessary for success in cricket are, fitness, commitment, dedication, discipline, patience, confidence, eagerness to learn, aggression, unity, being coachable, attitude, following instructions, hard work and desire.
You may notice I didn’t mention talent. Talent is an ingredient but in this part of the world it is mistakenly seen as the only ingredient – the end all. Talent without the aforementioned ingredients is a waste of time.
I would like to highlight a few of these requirements. FITNESS! I feel that fitness should be the responsibility of the athlete – who in this case is the cricketer. When you report to camp you should be required to pass an “entry” fitness test. If you can’t pass it, you are out. There will be other tests done incrementally.
Fitness is a key component in sports. Imagine you are a footballer with exceptionally great skills but after 10 minutes in the game you are too tired to run. Then you and your skills are no use to the team.
It was scientifically proven that the human body needs 24 hours to regain full recovery. When you are playing Test cricket and you finish the day at 5 ‘o’clock, 24 hours is 5 ‘o’ clock the next evening, but you have to be at the ground next morning by 8.00 am to be ready to play at 10.00 a.m. So can you see that you actually play Test cricket without full recovery – not even half- recovery. (So) you are basically playing Cricket tired. Can you therefore understand that you have to be super fit in order to endure 5 straight days of Test Cricket? Have you even noticed how the West Indies play competitively for the first 2 or 3 days and then fade away? We are just not adequately fit as a team.
BEING COACHABLE! A good sign of when you are coachable is when the Coach tells you something that you did wrongly and you do not give him an excuse. Don’t make excuses. If you are asked WHY you did what you did, you answer. No problem. If he just said something to you – just say “Yes Coach!” When you give an excuse you justify it, when you justify it you make it right in your mind, when you make it right in your mind you will do it again.
An element of our winning ways was staying around after the game and listening to the more senior players discuss the game. The older players today complain incessantly that the young players don’t hang around the club house and interact with the elders to gather knowledge about the finer points of the game – something which the older cricketers benefitted from “back in de day”.
I got a message for you old guys. DEM DAYS DONE! In your day you didn’t have a car or a cell phone, there were no night clubs or karaoke. You were happy to stay there. You had nowhere else to go. Those days gone just like donkey carts. If you want to have such sessions, they would have to be pre-arranged. Set it up as an event. There are some cell phones that apparently have Apps that tell the girls – “Cricket done”.
Furthermore, these modern day children are visual people. They learn better with video. Coaches should visually record everything including practice. A great number of today’s youth cannot form a picture while you speak. They don’t create images of your verbal descriptions very well.
Our coaches should learn how to teach. There is difference between how we coach and how we teach. When coaches teach and coach equally well, they get better results. And I might add that great players don’t necessarily make great coaches. In Basketball Isiah Thomas and Larry Bird are Prime Examples – They both failed miserably as coaches. Phil Jackson on the other hand was just an average player – even coming off the bench. However, he is one of the greatest coaches of all time.
CONFIDENCE is a natural ingredient needed for every sphere of life and the Cricketer is no different. His confidence can be greatly enhanced by reading, general knowledge, learning history of other cultures, history of cricket, history of self. Exposure to public speaking would also be a confidence booster and most likely along with reading, allow the individual to NOT have to use the same words and clichés in every interview - (go back to the drawing board, behind the 8 ball, take the positives, come to the party etc.)
NEGATIVE ADVICE! Tell them what to do. Not what NOT to do, e.g., “Don’t hit the ball in the air!” You still have not told them WHAT to do. We as a people wallow in negativity. We must practice Positivity! Tell them “Keep the Ball on the Ground”.
The most senseless instruction I have ever heard coming from a coach – “Don’t Get Out!” Why would you have to tell somebody that? If it is that you have to absolutely say that to someone, that person should not be playing.
Furthermore, the last word they would have heard is “Out”. And a study came out in 2000 which said that modern day children do not hear the first word of what you say. It merely serves to get their attention - especially when they are engrossed in their video games.
Technology has changed the pace of life – all the while Cricket still needs patience and discipline.
When you represent Barbados or the West Indies you are not just a cricketer, you are also a man - a human being. And being on the global stage gives you the visibility which has the power of message. You have the opportunity to show the WORLD whether you are strong or weak; whether you are courageous or cowardly; whether you or wise or unwise; whether you are ignorant or knowledgeable; whether you are intelligent or stupid.
And the world will judge your country and the region – and even your race, by your actions and by your behaviour. What you tell them, even if inadvertently, is what will be interpreted as WHAT we are. It could be positive, it could be negative, but that’s the scary power of sports that you have when you become representatives with that kind of visibility on the global stage.
Who gets big advertising deals? Who has people seeking their autographs? Who do people pay to see perform? - Not the politicians!
AGGRESSION. Being a nice-guy is not the agenda of a fierce cricketer. You can be nice OFF the field but not ON the field. Winning a Mr. or Miss Congeniality award should not be your goal.
Athletic competition is confrontational. CONFRONTATION suggests AGGRESSION. Aggressive behaviour is a major attribute of every successful athlete.
There should be specific goals relating to behaviour during competition that address being aggressive and confrontational, rather than being timid and a nice-boy.
We see the aggression in the Australians, the English and the Indians. I don’t see it in the West Indies team.
Coaches teach aggression. Coaches coach the mental game. The team usually carries the personality of the coach. Play hard, hit hard – not dirty. “Nice-guy” off the field.
ONENESS. Do you see the oneness like you used to or do you see a bunch of individuals? Can the Captain bond? Can the Coach bond?
Do you see swagger that spurs confidence? The “oneness” is missing. Even our commentators refer to the player as from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Antigua, St. Lucia, Barbados.
Do you hear the English commentators constantly referring to their players as from Yorkshire or Nottinghamshire? Or the Australians saying from Victoria or Melbourne?
It matters because it sends a subliminal message of “INDIVIDUALISM” which defeats UNITY which is the bedrock of the “team concept”.
SELECTORS. I would like to suggest a more diverse way to expose more players to the possibility of West Indies selection.
1. Let each island send their 10 best players to a camp.
2. They would be tested for fitness, acumen, dexterity, quickness and several other skills.
3. There will be a “cut-off” period – down to 50 players.
Then after a couple weeks – another cut to 30 players. Then a final cut to “20”. The coach will choose his team and reserves.
FOREIGN COACHES. The one entity which holds us WEST INDIAN PEOPLE together is WEST INDIES CRICKET. Which other sport is played as the WEST INDIES?
Sport defines the character of a people.
Psychology is a powerful tool! Psychology is a powerful weapon! Who is in charge of fashioning the minds of the West Indian Team?
IS IT TRULY THE WAY FORWARD?
Everytime the camera focuses on the coaching staff of the West Indies cricket team my mind wonders and even wanders for I consciously wonder about what subliminal messages are being conveyed to our West Indian cricketers being coached by and prepared by a majority of foreigners. A myriad of questions engulf my being.
What are our players unconsciously getting from this experience? Are they understanding that these jobs are beyond West Indians? Are they believing that no West Indian is qualified to do these jobs? In the year 2018, a time in our history when we know of the great achievements of black people in every sphere of life across the world. When we know of the great inventions by blacks. When we see the emergence of black managers and coaches in basketball, baseball and football in a racially biased United States of America. Are they therefore subliminally understanding that no West Indians are educated enough, knowledgeable enough, wise enough, smart enough or in any way capable of coaching and teaching the game of cricket which we totally dominated across the world for 15 years?
Are they being made to understand that there is no hope for them as workers in the management of Cricket? What is it? It has to be something, for we all extract through observation, we all extract through circumstance, and we all know the power of PERCEPTION.
And I further wonder, do these people fully understand our plight, our journey, our history, our culture, our lives? Do they even understand that although we like the same music we dance differently?
DO they feel what we feel? CAN they feel what we feel? DO they hurt when we hurt? DO they hurt when we lose? CAN they hurt when we lose?
I understand being a PROFESSIONAL but do they cry when we cry? CAN they cry when we cry? Is their PASSION the same as ours? The question is, can it really be? Is it possible?
The real question is… Do they understand that when the West Indies beat England and Australia in cricket that the euphoria is like reparation?
To quote from a Calypso… “It would ease the pain of History. It was redemption even reparation”.
Whether you have the guts to admit it or not – that is what it is!So you see the way forward hinges on more than bowling fast and batting long. A re-programming of the West Indian’s self-view, self-image and self-worth must take place. We must have the COURAGE to create a new consciousness of regional confidence.
As Sir Winston Churchill said - “Courage is the foremost of all human qualities for it is the one quality that guarantees all others”.
And the great Martin Luther King said – “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy”.