WT20: After WICB hostility, West Indies team fired up for glory

Hostility & disrespect the players received from West Indies Cricket Board galvanised them more than anything else, writes Rudi Webster

At the end of the first T20 game between West Indies and England my good friend Sir Wesley Hall, former West Indies player and former president of West Indies Cricket Board, phoned me from Barbados to tell me that the West Indies team would win the T20 World Cup.

West Indies' Chris Gayle (right) celebrates wildly as his teammates look on at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Sunday. Pic/Getty Images
West Indies' Chris Gayle (right) celebrates wildly as his teammates look on at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Sunday. Pic/Getty Images

He said that from what he saw on TV it appeared as though the coach, captain and the senior players had changed the attitude and mindset of the players and had turned the team around. He thought that the adversity the players faced off the field brought them together and transformed them into a united and highly motivated group. He said that the spirit that he saw among the players reminded him of the team spirit that Frank Worrell had created in his 1960-61 Team that toured Australia.

The leadership of Darren Sammy before and during of the World Cup must be applauded. He did not contribute much with the bat or ball but he inspired the players, kept them together and helped them to believe in themselves and in their ability. Coach Simmons also did a great job. He allowed his senior players, who had more experience in T20 cricket, to become co-leaders and co-decision makers in the team. That type of shared responsibility always improves commitment and teamwork.

A good coach or good captain does not say, "I did this, I did that" or "I did everything." He behaves in such a way that when at a particular time his players are asked, "Who did these great things for you?" They will answer and say, "We did them together."

A football coach with whom I worked in Australia always used to say that you should never say anything about your opponents that will motivate them to beat you.
Many years ago, during a Test series against England Tony Greig, the captain of England, said that he would make the players in Clive Lloyd's West Indies team grovel. That was the worst thing he could have said because the West Indies players lifted their game and demolished his team. Tony then had to eat his own words and in fact, he was the one who was made to grovel.

Off the Mark
Mark Nicholas' unfortunate comments about the brainpower of the T20 West Indies team had a similar impact on the players. His remarks aroused and motivated them and focused them even more powerfully on winning the Championship. To Nicholas' credit, he apologised to the players after the team's victory, at the same time that the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) continued with its antagonism towards Sammy and his players.

But nothing united and galvanised the team more than the hostility and the disrespect that the players received from an incompetent and delusional West Indies Cricket Board. England, Australia, India, New Zealand, Pakistan and the other teams in the competition were not the team's greatest opponents. It was the WICB. Sammy's comments during the post match interview highlighted that fact.

The WICB and the players have been in conflict for years and every year that conflict intensifies. Most of the problems arise as a result of the Board's 'plantation' mentality towards its players. Instead of being player focused, the WICB is member focused. The Board is even now engaged in an undeclared war with the prime ministers of the Caribbean.

During the last decade or so, the West Indies Cricket Board repeatedly dismissed the findings of the Lucky, Patterson, Wilkin and CARICOM reports, and contemptuously rejected their recommendations to restructure the Board, reform its systems and processes, and improve the quality of its

The single most critical variable to the success of an organisation's improvement effort is the behaviour of those leading it. This is closely followed by the structure and design of the organisation. Structure either limits or liberates performance potential. When placed in the same system people however different, tend to produce the same results.

Out-of-date structure
The Board's structure is out of date and its leadership leaves a lot to be desired. Some of the West Indian cricket legends claim that the performance and leadership of the WICB is the worst they have seen in the past sixty years.

Unless the current WICB bites the bullet, reforms and restructures itself and improves the quality of its leadership West Indies cricketers will continue to underperform in Test and ODI formats. The Board can't expect to have different results in these two formats if it continues to do the same things over and over again.

Grenada-based Dr Rudi Webster, a renowned sports psychologist, has been associated with West Indies cricket since the 1970s.

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