Former West Indies wicketkeeper and vice-captain Ridley Jacobs is urging Caribbean fans to be patient with the West Indies team.
“As it stands now we are not winning games like we want to. All of us wish to see West Indies’ cricket back on top but it’s going to take a while. It’s a process. I think at present the members of the team are young players who we have invested in. It will take a while to get them matured and doing the right things consistently over a long period of time. Once they can do that the team will start winning more games regularly and our ranking will improve. We just got to be more patient with these young players,” Jacobs told Barbados TODAY.
According to Jacobs, who played 65 Test matches, once the players keep on working hard on their game and have the right attitude, the West Indies would be back on the top of world cricket in the not too distant future. He stressed that the players must be cognizant of what they wanted to achieve.
“It is my belief that a player as an individual has to know what he wants to achieve. A lot of cricketers play at the highest level, but some of them do not have a clue what they want to achieve in their cricket career. Our young cricketers should set realistic goals and work hard to achieve them,” Jacobs said.
He described the members of the regional team as talented youngsters and said he was particularly impressed with Shai Hope.
“I have seen a few of them play and I think that they have the ability to become great players. I am very impressed with Shai Hope. He has the ability to really bat for long periods. I think he is a talented batsman and a good find. Once he stays humble and works hard on his game by trying to improve on every aspect of it, I think he will be a batsman we will hear a lot about in the future,” the former Antigua captain said.
He added: “ I think there are a few others, Chase (Roston) is another promising player, he is a very stubborn batsmàn, one who can stand up and bat for long periods. In my view, Hope and Chase are the players that we should look to build West Indies’ cricket around.”
The young Antiguan fast bowler Alzarri Joseph was another player who Jacobs said would serve the West Indies well in the future.
“I have known Alzarri from a very young age, he has the ability to be a very good fast bowler. He has the pace, temperament and the right attitude towards the game. I think once Alzarri stays on that path and does not change his focus – because there are several things that can make a young cricketer lose his direction – once he remains focused, I expect him to be a good player for the West Indies in the future,” Jacobs said.
Jacobs who took 207 catches behind the wickets and stumped 12 batsmen in his Test cricket, said he was very impressed by the number of good wicketkeeper/batsmen playing in the Professional Cricket League.
“We have a number of good wicketkeepers who are coming through. For several years we struggled to find quality wicketkeepers who can keep wicket and also bat. There are now about five solid wicketkeepers in the region who can really do a good job behind the stumps and make runs also. West Indies’ cricket looks good in that department. We just have to keep working with these players, wicket-keeping is an art that must be worked at. Once these players are willing to work hard, take all of the catches which is very important and keep on scoring runs they will be an asset to any team and will be in the running for selection to the West Indies team,” he explained.
Jacobs said it was sad the West Indies were at the lower rungs of international cricket.
“For a number of years, we watched West Indies’ cricket, knowing we were going to get positive results. At that time we were winning more games than we were losing. But that has changed, now we are losing more than we are winning,” Jacobs said.
He added: “It is a process, maybe the authorities moved a bit slow to put the systems in place to stop the decline in West Indies’ cricket. They have been taking steps in the right direction recently. The creation of the Professional Cricket League is one of those steps. What I want to see is that when these young players get the opportunity to play at the highest level, they grab it with both hands and don’t take it for granted. Sometimes a player thinks the other player is not as good as he is and starts fooling around. When he starts to get serious, it’s too late. I think that our young players have to take their cricket seriously and understand they have been selected to play for the West Indies. They have the talent to perform, once they do so, the people of the region will be happy.”
Jacobs is the manager of Antigua Schools, currently in Barbados taking part in the Sir Garfield Sobers International Schools Cricket Tournament.