While fussing and “cussing” about the woeful batting of West Indies in the first Test against South Africa in St. Lucia last week, it was refreshing to learn of the induction into the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Hall of Fame of West Indians Desmond Haynes and the late Sir Learie Constantine the very next day after Kraigg Brathwaite’s team suffered a massive defeat.
Perhaps it is ironic that as West Indies head coach Phil Simmons was spitting out phrases such as “bad judgement” and “bad shot selection” in relation to the batting after West Indies crashed for 97 and 162 to lose by an innings and 63 runs in roughly two days and one session at Daren Sammy National Cricket Stadium, Haynes, arguably one of the greatest ever opening batsmen in world cricket and a proud son of Barbadian soil was turning his attention to speaking about his roots and what the prestigious award meant to him and the people of the outstanding sporting community of Holder’s Hill, St. James.
Make no bones about it, Haynes is among a number of outstanding West Indian players who have been treated shabbily by the regional Board.
And to hear Simmons, once a teammate of Haynes in the glory days of West Indies, lamenting over the batting debacle while Haynes remains “idle” on this great rock called Barbados, evokes tremendous pain.
I tend to pay very close attention to what coaches and captains say in the aftermath of a match, especially when they lose.
West Indies had the luck of the toss at a ground now regarded as one of the fastest in the region and against a pace bowling attack far superior than Bangladesh and Sri Lanka – their immediate past opponents – chose to bat first.
“Bad judgement, bad shot selection – however you want to put it. You can’t be out for 97 and there’s any other question (about the result). It’s just about bad selection in the first innings especially,” Simmons said.
“The fact is we need to bat well in the first innings. We need to bat a hundred overs and we need to find a way to do that against this team.
“I think if we bat a hundred overs against this team, we’re putting ourselves in a good position to put them under pressure.”
It was in late 2019 (December 3 to be precise) Cricket West Indies (CWI) announced that Monty Desai had been appointed as the new West Indies men’s batting coach on a two-year contract.
In a media release, CWI said Desai “is a highly-respected and experienced coach who has worked with several teams at the franchise level as well as with several international teams”.
“He worked with Canada, as their head coach at the ICC World Cricket League Division 2 and Afghanistan as their batting coach at the ICC Cricket World Cup qualification tournament in 2018. More recently, he also worked as batting coach for the United Arab Emirates at the ICC World Cup qualification event,” CWI said.
At that time, Desai had joined the West Indies team ahead of the start of the Twenty20 International series against India in Hyderabad.
Simmons was very upbeat about having Desai as part of his management team.
“I have worked with Monty before and he is an excellent coach. He has proven he has the ability to get players to improve on their talent and also to perform better in matches. He has vast knowledge of the game and it is good he is starting here with us in India. I look forward to seeing him work with our batsmen in all formats as we look to get better in all areas,” Simmons remarked.
Desai said: “Let me first thank CWI for this incredible opportunity. I am very excited to join a team with such a rich history in the world cricket arena, one that I myself grew up admiring.
“I am very much looking forward to being part of a journey where I can help to create a winning work environment, learn and embrace a new culture, and build a ‘happy dressing room’ tradition alongside other excellent leaders. I am eager to join forces with head coach, Phil Simmons and Director of Cricket, Jimmy Adams, and our captains, such that I may contribute in every possible way to the success of our team.”
Though not expecting a miracle, we all eagerly looked forward to the results of the West Indies from a batting perspective, under the guidance of Desai.
But the COVID-19 pandemic has led to Desai missing a couple tours, begging the question of whether his absence has resulted in some of the disappointing batting performances by West Indies.
Last June when the West Indies squad left the Caribbean for the three-match Test tour of England, CWI announced that another “Monty” – Floyd Lamonte Reifer, the former Barbados batsman and West Indies captain, was joining the coaching staff as batting coach, filling in for Desai, “who is based in India and due to travel restrictions cannot join the team for his tour”.
By the way, for those who probably think I am trying to be funny, Reifer is affectionately called “Monty” by his friends.
“He (Reifer) brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the role having coached the West Indies team last year,” CWI said.
It was also said that A.R. Srikkanth, the Team Analyst, is also based in India and “will work remotely from Bangaluru for the duration of this tour where he will continue to support the team”.
Now one year later to the exact month of June, Desai is missing again. His replacement this time is the former Jamaica wicketkeeper/batsman Andre Coley after it was announced since mid-January that Reifer had been appointed as the new head coach of the West Indies “Rising Stars” Under-19 team.
CWI Chief Executive Officer Johnny Grave has stated that, “Monty will be back soon, once we have worked through all the logistics for getting him here”.
DESMOND HAYNES AND THE FEDERAL HIGH SCHOOL CONNECTION
In congratulating Desmond Haynes on his induction into the ICC Hall of Fame, apart from all that has been written and spoken about him, it must be a very proud moment for his alma mater, Federal High School, which is now defunct.
I first heard of Desmond Haynes and his batting ability while a student at Boys’ Foundation School in the 1970s. Two of my senior teammates in the Under-15 and Intermediate division teams who I always looked up to, Errol “Mac” Browne and John Corbin, were at national Youth trials in preparation for the regional Under-19 Tournament.
Both Browne and Corbin were outstanding schoolboy cricketers, known for their fast bowling. Browne was genuinely quick while Corbin, who played for the Barbados Under-19 side, was a left-armer, who swung the ball “real big”.
After rubbing shoulders at the youth trials with Haynes, Browne and Corbin gripped their schoolmates by talking about a wonderful century Haynes made in a trial match. They felt he was special. It led to his selection in the Barbados Under-19 team (he also kept wicket) and as they say, the rest is history.
While Haynes is the greatest cricketer ever produced by Federal, the school also boasted of several other talented players dating back to the 1960s. They included all-rounder Arlington Hunte, who became a stalwart for Spartan and YMPC in the top BCA Competitions, his brother Arden, a left-arm spinner who played for St. Catherine, the stylish Banks batting all-rounder John Brathwaite, now deceased national Under-19 team fast bowler Clyde Burnett and off-spinner Jeffrey Selman, who also played for the Barbados Youth team. Burnett represented Spartan as well.
In my era of playing in the Ronald Tree Cup Under-15 Tournament, of players from Federal, I was impressed with the elegant batting of Richard “Cargoo” Holder, who went on to play for the Barbados Under-19 team and then became a stalwart at Banks, boosting his all-round talent with fine medium-pace bowling.
Soon emerged another talented Federal player in the outspoken Geoffrey Mapp, an all-rounder who opened the batting and bowled leg-spin before distinguishing himself at Police. Mapp also played a regional one-day match for Barbados.
The late Barbados Under-19 team fast bowler Lester “Macka” Forde was another Federal boy and so, too, was the former BCL and Spartan batsman Roy Alleyne.
In talking with Arlington Hunte, Richard Holder and Geoffrey Mapp over the last couple days, the following names were identified as relatively good cricketers at Federal – the late trio of Stephen “Ears” Forde, David Moore and Morton Brathwaite, who was the driver of the bus on which six people lost their lives in July 2007 in Joe’s River while travelling to the Party Monarch Finals on the East Coast Road, St. Andrew; current opposition leader Bishop Joseph Atherley, former parliamentarian Kenny Best, Reverend Charles Morris, now the Barbados deputy High Commissioner in London, permanent secretary Tennyson Springer, retired educator Ronald Bradshaw, Kenmore Brathwaite, DeCourcey Jones, Chris Broomes, Denis Moore, Grantley Fields, Michael Holder and well-known athletes, Olympian Elvis Forde and Trevor Small.
Big up Dessie and the Federal High School!
Keith Holder is a veteran,
award-winning freelance sports journalist, who has been covering local, regional and International cricket since 1980 as a writer
and commentator. He has compiled statistics on the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) Division 1 (rebranded Elite in 2012) Championship for four decades
and is responsible for editing the BCA website (www.bcacricket.org).
Email: [email protected]