The victories last year by the Windies U-19 and Ladies cricketers are applauded and appreciated by the people and players throughout the Caribbean. The coaches are to be applauded but so too should the school sports masters, parents and families and community groups that are also heroes and champions.
They are, often against great odds and circumstances, the real support, advisor, mentor, coach and teacher to the players, especially in the formative years.
Officials have stated that the future of Grenadian cricket is thereby secured and by inference, it is in good hands. Both may be correct. But the statements made recently that “although the number entering the game is declining, we are putting on tournaments, therefore the future looks good”! There may be some logic of cricket development in this but it defies a humble cricket lover’s understanding. Successful cricket development for both youth and ladies can only be assured by a grassroots coaching, training, schooling and mentoring process that is integrated, planned, controlled and collaborative with partners who share the same aims and objectives and are based in the local communities.
Why was grassroots cricket terminated a few years ago and replaced by piecemeal and ad hoc training (or rather practice) only in schools using outmoded coaching methods? Whether these officials are qualified cricket coaches; whether they are trained and qualified in holistic cricket coaching, mental applications, the history and values of cricket or in video analysis application is another matter.
Good young cricketers do not suddenly appear like mushrooms from the ground to be plucked from sub-standard cricket tournaments for “special training by expert” coaches and then placed into national or regional matches with the hope that one or two stars will emerge. How can a few days of “special training” correct their ingrained, inadequate technique or temperament? Can serious batting flaws be eliminated in a fortnight? One only has to look at some national and international players to see this problem and its consequences.
Can wrong or dangerous pace-bowling techniques be corrected if it has been ingrained for years? Does a fortnight of special training prevent serious spinal damage that may have already started or cannot be corrected in young pace bowlers? Can illegal bowling (chucking) be corrected in a few days when it has been inculcated, condoned and ignored for years?
We can have tournaments “morning, noon and night” but it will not guarantee that successful young cricketers will emerge. When they do: it may be DESPITE OF rather than BECAUSE OF the process? Tournaments are the blossoming and flowering of the seeds that should be sown in a proper grassroots development system. It is the caring and nurturing of our cricketing talents that makes for success- not playing tournaments!
An effective cricket structure here must be based, as the starting point, on the local district as a partnership of schools, clubs, community associations etc. The DISTRICT COMMUNITY CRICKET CENTRE (DCCC) could be the basis of grassroots cricket.
Each DCCC should be a partnership among all stakeholders including Youth Development, Education, Health, Social Care, Drugs and Alcohol Prevention, Child Protection and Sponsors – private, local and international agencies as the objectives should be holistic and life-skills oriented.
The DCCC coaching operations would be based, not on the narrow-focused, monotonous methods, but be wider in focus as cricketing excellence requires a broader based approach. Multi-disciplinary inputs e.g. from athletics, football, martial arts (even dancing) are invaluable and should be included in the development processes.
The DCCC should be THE MAIN linkage between district cricket and all primary and secondary schools in the local area and should be the focus for youth coaching (both girls and boys) from 11 years onwards into age groups: 11,13,15,17,19 years.
The DCCC would be responsible for training, selecting and mentoring the age groups teams for that district. An important element for the sustainability of the DCCC would be the identification and mentoring of suitable adults in the community for the management and operation of the DCCC.
The most important cricket coach is the SCHOOL P. E. /SPORTS MASTER, most of whom are full of intention but lacking in the basic knowledge and experience in cricket coaching. They should be enabled and empowered by getting a basic grounding in cricket coaching. The DCCC would implement a Cricket Coaching Training Program for them.
WORKSHOPS will be an integral component of the cricket development process. Unlike typical coaching that rely on PRACTISE rather than in holistic cricket development, the DCCC would include workshops on the Laws and Spirit of Cricket, the History and Traditions of the game, and the History of Windies Cricket-the Exploits and Excellences of our past cricket greats of whom our youths know very little. The DCCC will integrate CRICKET WORKSHOPS in the process complementing cricket practice/coaching with the appreciation and knowledge of the game. The DCCC will also include an ILLEGAL BOWLING (CHUCKING) TESTING CENTRE to help stamp out the curse of chucking in cricket.
Only by implementing some fundamental and far-reaching changes to Grenada cricket will there be a secure and sustainable cricket development process where ACCESS to cricket and PATHWAYS within the cricket system will be secured for all children in an equal and egalitarian way. Otherwise we will remain mired in the current malaise.
But will the authorities do anything to alleviate the problem? Do they understand or wish to improve the serious cricketing deficit here? Will they work together in tandem as a coordinated force for change? Or as it is currently – separate cricketing entities doing “their own thing”- not knowing or caring what the other hand does.