Players in the West Indies team are habitually providing weak performances because they are lazy and not prepared to work harder on their individual games.
That’s the opinion of former Barbados all-rounder and cricket coach Franklyn Stephenson, who questioned the work ethic of regional players before they reached the international stage. Stephenson, an outstanding performer on the regional, English county and South African first-class circuit, suggested players were trying to develop their game at the international level rather than putting in the initial hard work.
“They are not working hard enough. So when they get to the game you find them lacking in so many areas and you have to go back to the drawing board and I think that will continue for a while until I see players working hard enough before they get to the international arena. So that when they do get there they are ready.
“They are so short of work that they look like schoolboys with too many basic faults and there is a lot that we can do. I have no confidence whatsoever in the coaching and support staff that is supposed to be preparing these guys. When you look around you don’t see those players getting out there looking to take their time and finish the game. But it is more important for them to show that they are star boys, instead of playing serious cricket with the mindset that we used to be cricket masters of the world,” Stephenson said.
Stephenson, who was Wisden’s Cricketer of the Year in 1989, also gave his take on the recent selection of Test opener Kraigg Brathwaite to the One-Day International squad to play Pakistan in the UAE from September 23, the overall team, as well as the continued struggles with the ball of West Indies Test and ODI captain Jason Holder.
He said the West Indies team did not have that quality about it and therefore needed some stability from players like Brathwaite who has consistently showed that he was more than capable of batting twenty-five to thirty overs.
But even though he believed Brathwaite could play a vital role at the top of the order, Stephenson questioned whether he had the ability to pressure a good bowling attack and keep the scoreboard ticking over in this format of the game.
“It is going to be a struggle because if they put Kraigg in they are not going to get the flying start they normally get from Johnson [Charles] or one of those other openers. But the aim should be to get more steady starts. So you are looking at putting fewer runs on the board and the bowling attack has to be strong enough to defend it. If you look at the England One-Day team with the likes of Jason Roy and Alex Hales batting at the top, those guys smash the ball because they are opening batsmen and West Indies cannot find an opening batsman that can smash the ball. So they have gone to a Brathwaite who can give them that sure start but then it is going to put a lot of pressure on the bowling attack. So it is not going to solve a lot of problems for us. Gayle [Chris] tends to get better starts to help us post scores like over two hundred runs but those boys aren’t really playing fifty- over cricket these days. So what is the next step?” Stephenson explained.
Considered the greatest regional cricketer never to play Test cricket after touring South Africa with the West Indies Rebel team during the Apartheid era, Stephenson said skipper Holder himself was guilty of not putting in the necessary work on his game. He suggested that if Holder was not the captain he might not have been selected in the squad having failed to take wickets in recent internationals while batting at number eight where he hardly makes consistent contributions with the bat.
“Our players are spending more time with their competitive games than actually doing net sessions and you don’t really see them looking to garnish that support from people who have been there and I really don’t see the hard work they put in.
“The call was made on a calling programme for Holder to be replaced and that was always on the cards. When you have a young player taking over the captaincy you hope to see him working on his game and we haven’t seen that happen. He definitely has to work on his game and we don’t have the structure right now in the Caribbean and Barbados especially that prepares those youngsters for the international stage that when they get out there even if they are pushed into the role you would expect that they be smart enough to have their own programmes going in order to keep working on their game.
“If there is any pressure on Jason he put that on himself. He had a golden opportunity and I will never take that away from him. But he has to go out there and cement it. He can still turn it around if he pushes hard enough. But I have not seen him looking for ideas because I have not seen him looking around to find some hard sessions or even finding those players who have succeeded on the international scene that are actively working, to help him,” Stephenson said.