Raising confidence is the single most important thing for the WI team

Dear Editor,

No reasonable person will suggest that the performance of the WI in Australia to date is not pathetic. If it were not that such performances have been delivered over such a long period, I would have compared it with the most recent performance of South Africa in the Tests in India that most fans and commentators have already forgotten, or with one of the performances of the Aussies in England in the latest Ashes series in England, or the English performances in all the Test matches in the last Ashes series in Australia that perhaps led to the retirement of Graham Swann, or perhaps even the innings defeat that Australia received at the hands of Pakistan in Dubai last year. That is, however, not where I intend to go. West Indies do not have many top class cricketers at this point in time, but even in this last most painful game, the performances of Bravo and Roach with the bat and Warrican (pre-lunch) with the ball in the first inning, and Brathwaite in the second with the bat would have left optimists with the belief that the team could improve its performance. Again, that is not where I wish to go.

When I wrote in this paper shortly before the tour began, I referred to the need for confidence, because for success in sport at the highest level only exceptional talent may be said to trump confidence, and that is not an open and shut case. It is always easy to attribute poor performance to lack of trying or a failure to do one`s best. What should also be easy or at least not difficult, is to understand that there is, generally speaking, no good reason, or motivation in those circumstances for athletes not to try their best. There is no team in cricket that fires cricketers as quickly or indeed is more willing to discard them, than the WI. To argue therefore that WI cricketers are complacent because they believe their positions are secure, with due respect, does not have an air of reality.

I know of no institution other than the WICB that does not even acknowledge receipt of communications. Only delinquent debtors are more leery of either oral or written communication than is the WICB. Since my retirement in 2010 I have written several letters to that board, all of which included constructive suggestions. I have gone so far as to call their attention to the widespread use of automatic acknowledgement of receipt without comment technology, that confirms to the writer that its communication has been received, all to no avail. One of my recent communications (around Nov 21) was a memo from Ayanna Sealy, who does, among other things, mental performance consultancy with, among others, athletes. She had solid Caribbean connections, and since her business was of recent vintage, I thought that it might be in the mutual interests of the WICB and Ms Sealy to communicate with each other (such contact naturally to be initiated by the board). I am reasonably certain that my communication would have ended up in the garbage bin.

It is clear that, in addition to high-quality coaching, WI cricketers need help in confidence building. I have on occasions spelt out the name of the sports psychologist being used by one of the other international teams in real time so that the WICB would understand that I was not speculating when I informed them that sports psychology had become widely used by their competitors.

With a team as lowly placed as the WI, management has a duty, if it wants its team to compete, to give the team all the assistance that is available within reason. No less a talent than Brian Lara, who, one would have expected, with his enormous natural talent would minimize the importance of a support system, has complained time and again about the lack of the support necessary to make WI cricket competitive.

There is only so much that can be done while the team is on tour. There is no doubt, in my view, that raising the confidence of the players, is the single most important thing that can be done for them before the next Test. Even in this last Test there were, as I suggested, as many as four performances that would have encouraged the coach.

Yours faithfully,

Romain Pitt

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