EDITORIAL: To the task at hand
During the past few days, it was announced that West Indies cricket coach Otis Gibson had acquired the services of an English sports psychologist to prepare the West Indies squad for the World Cup. This is not an astonishing development and will probably not take any serious followers of West Indies cricket by surprise.
But it has been done because, according to Gibson, he wants his players to be in the right mind for the stiff challenges in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in the next four weeks.
We applaud this move by Mr Gibson or whoever was responsible for this idea, because it has been clear for sometime now that our cricket is in need of remedial action.
Our players were exhibiting the physical skills necessary to match those of the other competing teams, but we have become very adept at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, and we cannot find the killer instinct to finish off the opposition.
As a result our national spirit and pride were diminished and we lost the title of world champions in a manner that suggested that there might have been a generational shift in the attitude of our players to the game. The physical element was not in sync with the mind.
We were playing the game without thinking as we played it. It is as if we were going through the motions while our competitors were doing otherwise.
C.L.R. James in his seminal work pointed to the fact that cricket is more than a game, and that its significance extends far beyond a boundary. Properly understood, the learned intellectual was telling us more about the game than we were then learning.
It was an example of art both as dramatic spectacle and as an imitation of life, and what is played out on the cricket field has serious implications for life in our region.
Our cricketers therefore carry a heavy responsibility, and an appreciation by them of their role is useful and necessary to their character development as standard bearers of our regional pride. But their self-confidence is badly lacking!
It is for this reason that we welcome this new development and wonder why it has taken so long for the authorities to restart the initiative first conceived by Kerry Packer when he contracted the Barbadian sports performance consultant Dr Rudi Webster to work with the West Indian breakaway team.
Dr Webster had the advantage of playing at the county level in England as a fast bowler – and might have made the West Indies team but for the fact that he chose to concentrate on his medical studies – and from a cultural perspective would have been au fait with Caribbean habits and attitudes.
So it is significant that while the World Cup team was being helped by an Englishman, the papers were showing cricket legend the Right Excellent Sir Garfield Sobers giving a motivational talk to the regional players gathered at Kensington Oval.
We have no doubt that these players would have benefited enormously from Sir Garry’s talk with them, because he brings to the table the experience of having walked the walk, and one wonders if greater use could not be made of the highly successful players who represented the region with scintillating success.
Cricket may now be a “head thing”, but it has always been a matter in which the mind and the body have to work together for maximum results, given the diverse circumstances which may confront the player in any form of the game.
We wish our players well, but we call on each player to recognize that the team is as good as its weakest link, and that neither the manager nor the sports psychologist can do anything for them once they are in the middle. Each man has to put his head down and apply his mind to the task at hand.