Garner: Barbados cricket development more like a Test match
BARBADOS’ cricket will be strong again!
That assurance came from president of the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA), Joel Garner, on Saturday night in his address at the 2010 BCA Awards ceremony at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
Garner acknowledged that he had heard a lot of negative comments about Barbados’ disappointing performance in this year’s regional first-class championship when the team failed to make the semi-finals, after managing a solitary victory.
“Some people are worried about the state of our cricket. I am here to tell you that I am not,” the former West Indies giant fast bowler declared boldly.
“This may sound strange after our team finished at the lower end of the pack and failed to make the play-offs, but let me point out a few things. We are in a mode of ongoing development. Our team is a very young one,” Garner remarked.
Barbados have won a record 20 regional first-class titles but Garner noted that apart from a number of inexperienced cricketers, Kirk Edwards played only two matches, while the team was without Sulieman Benn and Kemar Roach, and Fidel Edwards was returning from a long injury layoff.
“Despite these setbacks, we lost only one game in the competition . . . all our young players showed their ability through good individual performances, even though their inexperience led to inconsistency and a tendency for the batsmen not to carry on after good starts,” he affirmed.
Garner said the BCA and its coaches would continue to work with the players focusing on the mental aspects of the game.
“However, there are several signs so far that our development programmes are working, and I am confident that this young team will take us back to the top of regional cricket,” Garner said.
“This is not a Twenty20 game. A cameo innings or a couple of quick wickets will not win it. Our five-year plan is more like a Test match where you get results by spending time at the crease and bowling consistently for long periods,” he reasoned.
Garner also declared that the programme for the Everton Weekes Centre of Excellence had been revamped and will be relaunched in the next few weeks.
“We will be meeting with parents to share with them our plans and to involve them in the process of developing young cricketers, not only in terms of technical skills, but with a strong focus on mental toughness and tactical awareness,” he said.
While noting that the BCA’s director of coaching Henderson Springer insisted that there must be five pillars of development – physical, technical, tactical, mental and lifestyle management – throughout the centre, Garner said that in order to be a successful international cricketer in the modern game, one must master all of them.
“The BCA also recognizes that cricketing development cannot only take place within a training programme. Players must be drawn from a club structure and must engage in regular competition of a high standard in order to develop their skills and to be able to apply them when it counts, that is, when they are in the middle,” he reasoned.
“Our development plan had to take into account the reality of the declining club structure in Barbados.
“The reality is that club membership was declining, finances were declining, standards were declining and club administration was declining, so the BCA had to take some bold steps,” Garner said.
“The time has come to put a stake in the sand. To set our standards high and challenge our players to meet those standards,” Garner warned noting he was a member of one of the most successful teams of all time.
“I know that sustained success cannot be achieved if we focus only on technical standards of excellence,” he asserted.