A bombshell was dropped from the Factory Road, Antigua address of the West Indies cricket board.
Fortunately, it wasn’t another implosion by the beleaguered ruling body for West Indies cricket, rather the appointment of Otis Gibson as West Indies team coach has hit the fan base like a positive ray of sunlight, illuminating a dark trail of failure.
It is rare when the WICB does not shoot itself in the foot with its decision making, which is why the Board can pat itself on the back for wresting Gibson away from the English and Wales Cricket Board.
In his two years coaching the England team’s fast bowlers he made rapid progress that has been reflected in the improved performances by England, Gibson proved himself by making their fast bowling department a much better unit and the good records of James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Ryan Sidebottom, Graham Onions and company are there to see.
And England has been winning these days because you don’t win matches if your bowlers are ineffective.
On the contrary West Indies has been a failure all these years because among other factors, the bowling has been poor.
The selectors have adopted a fast bowling policy, but the attack lacks the necessary ingredients to make it successful.
Talent without guile and stamina is like a horse without a jockey, and this has been the case with the West Indies fast bowlers since the retirement of Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose. The current crop needs the equivalent of a finishing school to perform well at world class levels, because they operate in a non-professional environment at regional level for much too long.
Having a coach who specializes in fast bowling, will add the necessary balance in the careers of Jerome Taylor, Kemar Roach, Ravi Rampaul and Fidel Edwards and company whenever the latter returns to the team.
Yet you have to wonder why the WICB never filled that void, despite clear evidence of this glaring requirement all these years.
With Gibson on board now and in charge, he will be in a position to dedicate all the time he needs to work with the fast bowlers while David Williams, who has been designated assistant for a number of years, has been justifiably retained on the coaching panel.
Since the removal of John Dyson, the last head coach, Williams, who was in charge, has demonstrated his usefulness with the batsmen and it only makes sense having him continue.
The well run national boards around the world; have been provided specialist coaches for the various departments of their teams.
That is considered par for course for the teams with the better win/loss records.
But as has been the norm, the WICB, lagged behind the eighth-ball in providing specialist support in the bowling, batting and fielding areas all these years.
And in other situations too. Gibson was interested in coaching West Indies before he was snapped up by England, as dithering by the WICB decision makers, cost them.
Later the excellent job done by the combination of Eldine Baptiste and Roger Harper, with the WI team under the Stanford All Stars banner, was not made use of.
The shocking improvement of the players in all areas of the game, and which was responsible for their success in the Stanford 20/20 for 20 series, was ignored by the Board.
It failed to bring the Baptiste/Harper duo on-board to continue working with the team.
The subsequent decline in fitness levels, especially among the fast bowlers who broke down consistently, reverted team performances back to square one.
As easy as Michael Holding, Malcolm Marshall and the other members of the four prong pace attack made it seem, in the 1970s and 80s, fast bowling is not a straight- forward craft.
Pace without control and swing is a recipe for failure.
And no young bowler, like the ones out of the West Indies who only play an average five first class matches a year, in an unprofessional environment devoid of proper coaching, fitness trainers and nutritionists, cannot make it on their own like magic.
Now, Gibson’s appointment should go a long way toward arresting some of those problems through his proven ability on the sidelines.
Yet, he will have to breakdown the aversion to meaningful fitness training by some members of the team that was exposed by Dyson following his stint.
In serious professional sports teams, such unprofessional approaches to the job would make the careers of those team members history, more so in light of the poor numbers put up by West Indies bowlers and batsmen since the decline started in the 1990s.
However, this rare forward move by the Board which also had the fortitude to coax a reluctant English Board to release Gibson, for obvious reasons, in no way can amend for the West Indies Cricket Board’s abysmal failures over the years.
Those responsible for the board’s financial woes, ghastly planning for teams and inability to attract sponsorship among other shortcomings, still have no place running West Indies cricket.
Abject management of such nature if allowed to continue would render even the prized accomplishment of Gibson’s appointment, another failure.