When the South Africans announced that they were not taking a sports psychologist to the World Cup I feared the WI brass would read it the wrong way; that they would interpret the decision as meaning that the South Africans no longer thought a sports psychologist was useful, rather than that they had already been prepared psychologically for the games.
Holder is among the better WI bowlers on the team. Captaincy places all bowlers in a dilemma as to when to bowl and when not to bowl. For a man of his limited experience and in the circumstances in which management has placed him, it is especially tough. Yet there were only one or two overs maturity would have led him not to bowl, his tenth, for sure and his ninth almost for sure. Anyone else, including Smith, Simmons or Carter would not have been at any risk psychologically to have been hit for even 36 runs in an over. They are not specialist bowlers but they can all bowl variations of pace and are smart, fairly experienced, first-class cricketers.
The WI team, as everyone knows, has no coaches as such. Ambrose is described as a bowling consultant, and Williams as assistant or acting coach, depending on which description is more useful to management at the time. There is no fielding coach, although there are some excellent fieldsmen in the WI, two of them unjustifiably excluded from a squad of fifteen at the games.
Ian Bishop, who knows an awful lot about fast bowling, and could be offered large sums to do fast bowler coaching for short periods, in his inimitable style, reminded listeners recently that Ambrose`s strength is motivational rather than technical. Common sense suggests that both assets are required.
Of the two men running for the leadership of WI cricket, one, Mr Cameron is a politician with little interest in cricket, and the other Mr Garner seems to believe that physical work and dedication are the only requirements for success at the international level. I prefer Mr Garner because I think he is capable of change.
In the final analysis there has to be more thought put into WI cricket, less desire to punish, and less willingness to believe that pure talent and dedication are all that are` necessary. What happened yesterday against South Africa was not completely unpredictable and could have been prepared for better in a psychological sense with the right professional help.
WI are not yet ready to do without the cricketing smarts of Chanderpaul, Dwayne Bravo, Pollard and Rampaul on a world squad, and they should try to get some of these guys in, along with a sports psychologist in the week before the Indian game.
There must be a category known as player assistant coach, and in any event there are team injuries. Better mental preparation is required.