JEFF BROOMES: More focus on talents
IT IS AWLAYS HURTFUL to see anything that you have dedicated extreme time and effort in building suddenly being systematically dismantled. The recent poor performances of our junior cricket teams in the West Indies regional tournaments have had that effect on me.
I have heard most of the post-mortems pointing to the poor batting, lack of penetrative bowling and the number of crucial drop catches. These are simple acts of attributing blame to the players while ignoring the obvious problems. To achieve goals or to correct weaknesses, structures and preparation must be the focal points. Here, preparation was certainly lacking!
Youth cricket has always been our strength even though we have sometimes questioned why some standouts have had difficulty transitioning to senior success. This has been true from the days of the late Harold Griffith who, with the assistance of the late Reynold Hutchinson and Seymour Nurse, built a structure that stood as a virtual yellow brick road to success.
Continuing youth leaders such as Owen Estwick, Tony King and Richard Edwards may have tweaked the formula in one way or another but understood the basic structure and allowed it to define the work. This became easier with the expansion and strengthening of schools’ cricket. We have a primary school tournament and four different opportunities for skill expression along the secondary track. There is nothing like it anywhere in the West Indies.
This allows cricket leaders to follow the path of every player, but such tracking must be consistent. Although the National Sports Council quite professionally gives a defining profile of its players to assist secondary teachers, no such effort is expended at any stage during the secondary journey for any player.
The two or three talents that must carry all of the weight at most of the other schools can quite easily be downplayed.This may seem simple but it must be given purposeful attention if we are truly looking for the best. Young players must be given a chance to show their worth on an equal playing field. They should not be condemned to the whims and fancies of coaches who do not even take the time to do regular and dedicated scouting and developmental tracking.
It is necessary at this age to identify the top performers and the recognised talents, bring them together and have them engaged in a series of games where each can take responsibility for his own claim. This unfamiliar environment allows the social and emotional strength of each player to shine through as a partner to the technical skill. All three are equally important for future success. Let’s not buy into the notion that we can tell if someone can bat simply by seeing them for a few minutes or overs.
Before I end, let me extend sympathies to the families (actual and Combermere) of my late colleague and friend, Doriel Pile, who was in the forefront of the rebirth of her school’s cricket development thrust. I have known and respected this lady for all of my adult life. She was a childhood friend and schoolmate of my wife’s mother, a link she was sure to remind me if she thought I was looking out the window!
Doriel Pile was a northerner like me and maintained close ties with Rock Dundo. She was my partner when we were the two EduTech leaders that made the site visits to New York and New Jersey in those early days and was a special advisor from whom I received great guidance over the years, especially in the rough times. She relaxed me by including me in some of those Friday evenings in her office with the guys, and I thank her. Rest in Peace, Dorie (as you are called in my home) and rise in glory!
Jeff Broomes is an experienced educator, principal and community organiser who also served as a vice-president of the BCA and director of the WICB. Email: [email protected]