A recipe for cricketing success

Andi Thornhill,

Added 12 December 2012

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Love them or hate them Sagicor UWI must be doing something right that they are the undisputed champions of cricket in Barbados. You don’t win triple crowns by mere reputation. There must be a certain level of organization. You need consistency to win a three-day competition but you have to be more intense and clinical to win the shorter versions of the game. Knockout cricket can be a lottery and the best team may not always win. It can come down to who executes better on any given day. I watched them beat CGI Maple in the Sagicor Super Cup and Maple had opportunities to win the game but didn’t take them. If anything, their batsmen played right into UWI’s hands when it was a great chance to test their invincibility. The same can be said for Empire in the T20 final. Their 147 was a competitive total but they didn’t defend it well despite having UWI 50 for three at one stage. The “Blues” weren’t able to sustain early pressure and poor fielding further betrayed their cause and worthiness to be champions. In short, nobody should seek to detract from the university’s triumphs on account of the failings of other teams who challenge them. It would be better to advise other clubs to try and raise their standards to rival UWI in a more purposeful manner. Some might shift the subject to suggest that it is their set up that plays a major role in their dominance in our system. There is obvious merit in this perspective but the most perfect infrastructure does not guarantee success. At the end of the day the players still have to be methodical to execute correctly whatever they learn on the training ground. Indeed, I have pointed to instances where Maple and Empire missed good opportunities to pressure the Cave Hill lads into submission. A true case where lack of execution was their downfall. In essence, UWI can be beaten but you have to bring the right discipline and the right attitude to conquer them. Neither of those factors can be enforced by a coaching manual when you’re in the middle. Head beats brawn most of the time. Ironically, another of UWI’s strengths is how they use the opposition they get from the public to mobilize them, unite them more, sharpen their killer instinct and lead lambs to the slaughter. Even so, if we look at the UWI project in a holistic way, we should be happy that taxpayer’s money is being well spent in this regard. If they weren’t getting positive results I think we would have reason to be critical. By the same token, we should be wondering why the Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme isn’t achieving better results in most of their disciplines considering what they do is well funded from the public purse as well. And it is not a case either that they don’t have access to good facilities or qualified coaches and other resourceful staff. Both institutions get an intake of some of the best seasoned and emerging talent, albeit that UWI’s net is wider because personnel from other regional countries are eligible for selection. Not even the regional connection should be used against UWI because there was a time when the Combined Campuses and Colleges team was selected to play in regional competition and many used to say it was virtually a Barbados “B” side. So it seems to be a case of damn if you do, damn if you don’t when it comes to analyzing what the Cave Hill-based team has achieved. Not only that, I think it is great that UWI is involved in sporting activities that create a synergy with the community. This process is very important because there was a time when it was also perceived that there was an us and them mentality and the university was viewed in a very negative way. Gladly, sport, cricket in particular, has gone a long way in bridging that gap and erasing a concept that purported to have a big division between the men and women on the hill and the average person on the street. If we want to be objective about this topic, we should be suggesting that the authorities at Cave Hill need to start placing just as much emphasis and resources on disciplines other than cricket so that they can be just as competitive in domestic competitions too. For now, let’s settle for the fact that they are the best cricket team in Barbados and we shouldn’t begrudge them for being top of the class. Instead, let’s see who will rise to the challenge of trying to downgrade their triple A rating. • Andi Thornhill is an award-winning experienced freelance sports journalist.

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