West Indies cricket legend Sir Wes Hall has issued a call for the reintroduction of a High-Performance Centre (HPC). But, he has stressed that it should be staffed only by people who understand the development of West Indies’ cricket and the culture of the region.
Yesterday, the former West Indies fast bowler said that an academy was a vital element in the development of young West Indies cricketers and should be seen as a priority.
Sir Wes made the call for an academy while speaking at a ceremony held at the Three Ws Oval where he, along with National Hero Sir Garfield Sobers and Sir Everton Weekes, was honoured by the UWI.
“We need to have an academy, High Performance Centre or whatever they want to call it, staffed by people who understand about cricket development in the West Indies and most important they must understand the culture of the West Indian people. The West Indies team in recent times seem to be doing quite well and they appear to be poised to have that trampoline effect that will bring them success. But we must have an academy to assist and develop our young cricketers,” the former president of Cricket West Indies (then West Indies Cricket Board) between 2001 and 2003 said.
Sir Wes said an academy would allow past cricketers such as Sir Garry, Sir Everton, himself and other cricket greats from around the region to have interactions and share their knowledge with the young cricketers enrolled there.
He told those gathered for the ceremony which was held during the innings break of the match between England and the Vice Chancellor’s XI that the great West Indies captain of the 1960s Sir Frank Worrell had a vision that there should be a synergistic view between education and sports
“I concur with Sir Frank’s vision and in my time at the West Indies Cricket Board, I decided that I would try to make sure that his vision came true,” Hall said.
In 2010, the Sagicor University of the West Indies’ High-Performance Centre was established at the Cave Hill Campus as a tripartite arrangement among the regional university, Cricket West Indies (CWI) and the insurance company Sagicor.
Three years ago, the HPC at Cave Hill closed. In 2017 CWI in conjunction with the government of Antigua purchased the Stanford Cricket Ground formerly owned by the jailed American financier Alan Stanford. One the reasons given for buying the ground was the creation of an HPC and as a result Richard Pybus, the acting coach of the West Indies team was appointed to the newly created post of high-performance director.
Since then, nothing much has been publicly said by CWI about the creation of an HPC at the Stanford Ground. In October 2017, Vice Chancellor of the UWI Sir Hilary Beckles announced at a press conference in Barbados that in a renewed venture, the UWI, and the Sagicor Financial Corporation had launched the Sagicor-UWI Cricket High-Performance Centre under the UWI’s Faculty of Sport. To illustrate its impact, Sir Hilary pointed out that captain of the West Indies team Jason Holder, Shai Hope, Shannon Gabriel and Shane Dowrich were all graduates of the centre when it was located at Cave Hill.
Addressing the careers of his fellow awardees, the feared pacer of the late 1950s and 1960s said his former captain Sir Garry was a genius and described him as the greatest cricketer the world would have ever seen and added Sir Everton was the greatest batsman of the 1950s.
“Even with all the technology around in modern cricket, I don’t see any cricketer coming near Sir Garry. I would like to say to you that Sir Everton was the greatest batsman of the 1950s. I don’t at this stage of my life want to take the odious position of comparing cricketers from different eras. Ladies and gentlemen, when you consider the youngsters who are playing now can play in 12 years about 160 Test matches, and then you realise that Sir Garry only played 93 Test matches in 20 years and Sir Everton 48 Test in 12 years, I think I also played 48 Tests also in 12 years, you will understand why at this critical juncture in the development of our cricket we need an academy,” Sir Wes said.
“Now, when Sir Garry, Sir Everton and I played because there were no coaches at that time, we shared our knowledge with the youngsters, showing them how to ‘master the craft’, as described in the book by the same name written by Hilary and Sir Everton.
“Mastering the craft was mastering the three theoretical paradigms of knowledge, of skill and of desire. Knowledge is what to do, skill is how to do it and desire the beginning of all achievements. I wish to say to the youngsters here today that they too can become masters of their craft but they need an academy to assist them to reach their goals , the cricketing icon explained.