Former West Indies coach Roger Harper says even though he is seeing a few bright sparks here and there by the regional team, there is not the consistent level of performance that West Indian fans are looking for.
“Like everything else, we have to build from the bottom and make sure we instill the right values, attitudes and ensure the right sort of skills are inculcated into our upcoming cricketers and build from there,” Harper told Barbados TODAY.
Harper noted that the inconsistent performances by the West Indies had to be tackled at two levels.
“The long term is trying to develop the players with the right skills and qualities who will be selected in future West Indies teams, while at the same time the coach and his staff are working with the current members of the team to make them better technical players,” Harper explained.
Harper who coached the West Indies from 2000 to 2003 suggested that more attention must be paid to the mental and tactical aspect of the game.
“I think we need to do a lot more work on tactical and mental areas of the game. These are not areas that we focus on, but players who are mentally tough are good quality cricketers,” Harper said.
He stressed that if a cricketer understood what was required and had the capacity to think how to apply himself in difficult situations, it was likely to bring the best out of him.
Harper said that he did not want to single out any current West Indian player who in his view had or was lacking mental toughness.
He was firm in the view that the tactical and mental toughness of West Indian cricketers was an aspect of the game that should be examined urgently
Harper said one of the reasons the West Indies team continued to struggle in international cricket was that they were losing players to the various Twenty20 leagues around the world.
He added the situation was compounded by the various conflicts between the West Indies Cricket Board and the players.
“When you do not have your best and senior players around to help guide the junior members of the team by passing on their knowledge and experience to help guide the younger players, it will create a massive problem. We have our work cut out”, said Harper.
The former Guyana and West Indies off-spinner said despite the problems facing West Indies cricket, he still believed there were good young players around with tremendous physical and technical skills.
“Until we put the right systems in place, and appreciate what is required and find the right structure to ensure we implement the correct measures to move our cricket forward, we are going to languish at the bottom of international cricket,” Harper said.
He suggested that even when the right systems were established, the situation was not going to improve overnight.
“We might get some success but I am talking about long term success that will turn us into a country with the capacity to compete in each format of the game for long periods of time,” he stated.
Harper said the creation of the Professional Cricket League was a step in the right direction.
“It allows the cricketers to play more cricket. But they should be practising on a regular basis and doing more training as well. I think it does help but they got to look at the training programmes to ensure the players are getting the opportunity to be the best that they possible can be,” Harper said.
He added that a system must be put in place to look at the next batch of players.
“What is being done for them? Are they going to wait until these players break onto the list of the next batch of contracted players?” he asked.
“And that’s the problem. They have to look at where the next batch of players are coming from and make sure that they are developed. So that they can take up the mantle of professional cricket with high standards,” Harper explained.
Harper said that as a former player and ex-coach he wanted to see the team doing well so he could hold his head high wherever he went.