It is going to be very difficult for Stuart Law to turn West Indies cricket around because he does not understand the people and culture of the region, says former outstanding Barbadian first class cricketer Franklyn Stephenson.
Stephenson, head of the cricket academy that bears his name and which won the recently concluded Under-13 domestic tourney, suggested the Australian cultural experience and that to be found in the region, were different, and should have been taken into consideration by the powers-that-be.
“He does not understand our people and culture. West Indians are a very diverse group of people. In order to get someone to listen to you, sometimes one must get into the back of that person’s head. Our cricketers are drawn from the West Indian society. There is no way Stuart Law can come here from Australia and in a short space of time understand anything about our cricket. He can talk about techniques and theories, but our guys do not work like that, it is not part of their character, “ Stephenson told Barbados TODAY.
Stephenson who played first-class cricket in England, Australia and South Africa, said the culture of West Indian cricketers was vastly different from what Law was accustomed to. He suggested this would present a problem for the Australian coach.
“Our cricketers are not suddenly going to come to terms with all of the various theories and techniques that he will be talking about, this is going to confuse their thinking. It is going to take them way back. By the time they get back to thinking proper cricket it will be too late,”, Stephenson said.
The former all rounder considered the best regional cricketer to have never played Test cricket, said the players would block out any new coaching methods Law attempted to introduce to them.
“The players are going to block themselves out. They are going to think that the coach cannot come down too heavy on them. They have seen coaches fired in the past. So the coach will do his thing and the players will do what they feel is right and that cannot help West Indies’ cricket,” Stephenson said.
Stephenson, who was banned after touring South Africa with the rebel West Indies team during the apartheid area, said another problem facing Law was that each time the West Indies Cricket Board appointed a coach, it appeared he was not allowed to do his job.
“I do not understand what the board really wants. It is just a series of dark tunnels where West Indies cricket is concerned”, Stephenson said.
According to Stephenson the regional team continued to blow hot and cold in Test matches.
“They can compete with teams on the lower rung of Test cricket. Occasionally, they will show a glimmer of what can be by competing with one of the stronger teams and then we are right back to square one,” Stephenson said.
He contended this was a weakness that the cricket authorities had allowed to fester.
“We had some great cricketers in the past, the present and recent crop never understood what it took those guys to get to the top of their game. Some of them believed they had a heritage. They thought they could just walk into Test cricket and do well. It does not work like that,” Stephenson said.
He explained that learning was a vital component in the development of a cricketer.
“A cricketer should always be learning something to help him develop. He should learn the conditions in the various countries. He should analyse the techniques of the great players of the past. By doing so his game will improve. If a cricketer is not prepared to do these things, he will not last long in international cricket”, Stephenson said.
According to Stephenson, it was all about learning for the great West Indian players of the past.
“They not only great cricketers. They were also blessed with the understanding that they had to learn every step of the way. Sadly, I do not see a lot of that happening now,” he lamented.
Stephenson added he was not impressed with the training camps he had seen conducted by the West Indies coaching staff.
“I do not think enough attention is being paid to practice. I have seen the team in training camps and have wondered what’s happening. It is just like a day out. The physio is there rubbing everybody. The boys have a little bowl, we are having a big camp. What is it all about?”
He added: “All of the avenues should be tested in the nets and training so that when a player steps out in the middle, he is fine-tuned and ready to perform. I have not seen the hard work being put in behind the scenes. There are international players who call me as soon as they land in Barbados and ask for a pitch to practice on.”
He issued a call to the players to work hard and said the remedy to most things was hard work.
“If a player knows out in the middle is hard then he should put more hard work into his training. He should not wait on the board, invest some money in a pitch at home or seek out a place where pitches are available, a serious cricketer got to look after his development,” Stephenson said.
The former top county professional identified Shai Hope as the current West Indian player that had caught his eye.
“I am pretty impressed with the way Hope plays. I haven’t been very close. I am aware of what can happen when people start to tell a batsman how talented he is. Sometimes this can make a player stop working on his game. As soon as he fails that player can become disenchanted. I think that as long as Hope is prepared to put in the hard work he can go all of the way,” Stephenson said.