by Brian Davis
Two articles in the daily newspapers caught my attention recently. One was a statement made by Heath Streak, the former Zimbabwe fast bowler now bowling coach for the Kolkata Knight Riders, and the other an announcement by Cricket West Indies (CWI) of a fast-bowling camp.
Streak believes that West Indies players are “bored” with Test cricket, resulting in their increasing numbers in the multiple t20 leagues across the world. I quote Streak: “Firstly, they enjoy it (t20 cricket) I think [italics mine]. They get bored by playing the long format of the game. A lot of them are playing all the leagues around the world, if you look at guys like Andre (Russell) and Sunil (Narine) from our team and others in the tournament like Pollard (Kieron)”. Russell played his last Test eight years ago and Narine’s last of six Tests was five years ago.
He continues: “You are getting to a stage where guys are making a career solely out of playing t20 cricket. They play in PSL (Pakistan Super League), CPL (Caribbean Premier League), BBL (Australia’s Big Bash League), IPL (Indian Premier League). They’ve got physical attributes, the power. The guys like Pollard, Russell are physically strong guys; even their mis-hits go over the boundary.” He then goes on to talk about Chris Gayle in the same context.
What is irritating to me about this nonsense spurted out by the Zimbabwean is, what qualifies him to issue statements about West Indian cricketers? He has no idea of their culture, their background and obviously their cricket development!
Gayle had a good run in Test cricket and as he got older found it more taxing to train in order to last through the rigours of a five-day Test. I should remind Streak that Gayle has two triple centuries in Test cricket and that takes some doing! He’s now 38!
Pollard has always said that Test cricket was his ambition plus his goal, however, when he was available as a younger man, the short-sighted selectors classified him only as a limited overs batsman. He was never chosen to play for the West Indies in Test matches!
Narine was treated very badly by Richard Pybus, the then Director of Cricket for the West Indies Cricket Board. Narine was selected to play against New Zealand in the Caribbean four years ago thus was invited to a training camp one week before the start of the first Test.
He explained he would be a day late because of his commitment to his IPL team which was involved in the final of the tournament to determine the winners that year. Pybus rejected Narine and threw him out of the team! Does Streak believe that Caribbean people have no pride, for Narine to bend and beg this foreigner for his mercy so he can be included?
Pybus made the rules and never tried to work around the problem to arrive at a solution so that West Indies would always have their best team on the field, if not every time at least most of the time.
Did Streak expect our cricketers, who are brilliant enough to be offered t20 contracts all over the world, to refuse same and lose millions of dollars in earnings? No one in their right mind would make that choice.
Other cricketers from their countries were looked after to the extent that they were compensated or had certain stipulations in their contracts, but in the West Indies the arrogant Englishman Pybus implored the cricketers with the attitude ‘Do as I say or I’ll deprive you of your place on the team’, never once trying to compromise and meet the cricketers half-way.
This brings me to the other article about a fast-bowling camp. This is to be run by the regurgitated Pybus who, after pleasing all the cricketers and administrators in the region with the exception of Cricket West Indies’ president and directors, by leaving his post after his three-year contract was up, has been re-engaged as High-Performance Director.
This man is now going to teach West Indian youth how to bowl fast with the help of Graeme West, another Englishman who is the region’s under-19 coach. Obviously, Pybus could get a job nowhere, having tried in Afghanistan (ironically where Trinidadian Phil Simmons was preferred to him and we saw his results), India and South Africa, where Barbadian Ottis Gibson was chosen before him and they just whipped Australia for the first time ever in a home series.
This is the stage West Indies cricket has reached, having two Englishmen conduct training sessions to develop fast bowlers! This is where the present cricket administration has led us! And Pybus’ contract includes assisting and advising the chairman of selectors; a straight case of the blind leading the blind!
My wish for the future of West Indies cricket is the recognition by those elected to direct the fortunes of the game, that the players are there to play and the administrator is there to ensure they are comfortable and happy in their environment, so they can perform at the best of their abilities!