BY BRYAN DAVIS
WHAT makes a cricket team perform poorly? The main reason is that they discharged the functions of their responsibilities worse than their opponents.
And why did they not produce better? That is where the secret of playing sport lies.
What is the secret? Understanding the game and its art and using one’s love for the sport and one’s ability to be the best one can be.
Some will love cricket more than others and players will decide early in their lifetimes whether they want to pursue their future in cricket by aiming for international status, winning kudos for brilliance or they might rather not sacrifice the time or effort as their ambition lies elsewhere.
When Brian Lara was 14, I was the cricket coach at Fatima College. During a practice session one afternoon in early 1984, he asked me, “How come the world’s highest individual Test score of 365 not out, held by Sir Garfield Sobers and scored since 1958, still stands? Why hasn’t anyone broken that record yet?”
I explained to the youngster that conditions of the game and the state of the pitch have to be present for a batsman to have the time, plus he will need the ambition and the ability to bat all those hours.
He said to me with a shy smile, “I’ll beat that record.”
I replied that it was a nice ambition to have and good luck, with a smile on my face. Even at that age, his talent shone through and I had already tagged him to play Test cricket.
But to score more than 365 in a single innings? Not likely, I thought.
However, the boy grew up to manhood with great ambition to be the best batsman in the world, practised long excruciating hours and achieved a goal he had set since he was 14. And went on to be the best batsman in the world between 1994 and 2004. We all know his record scores.
All batsmen would not be blessed with the same natural ability, although some may, but they would not possess similar ambition.
Nevertheless, those who will succeed at international cricket need to develop their concentration through long hours of practice, with repetition of the proper technique of defence and attack.
This brings me to the pathetic display by the majority of batsmen on the WI team in the first Test against Sri Lanka at Galle from November 21-25. WI lost by187 runs.
The batsmen, who have experience and should know better, through either a lack of willpower, ambition or just pure laziness, seemed to have no idea how to bat on a pitch that helps the spinner but was by no means unplayable.
The first innings was bad, except for captain Kraigg Brathwaite’s 46; also 45 by Kyle Mayers, the left-hander showing none of the promise that he displayed earlier in the year in Bangladesh; and Jason Holder’s 36.
Shockingly, the start of the second innings was a disaster until at six wickets for 18, the 23-year-old Joshua Da Silva (54), applying knowledge of the situation with a solid defence for survival, joined the main batsman, Nkrumah Bonner (68 n.o.), together structuring a 100-run partnership which, under the circumstances, revealed sound technique, application and determination.
Although at times being beaten, Bonner never appeared flustered, fighting through the battle with grit and self-control. He and Da Silva played intelligently and ought to be an inspiration for the others in the second Test match. Eventually, the 160 total in the second innings saved WI from deep embarrassment.
Kemar Roach and Jayden Seales should have been in the playing 11. They are the two best fast bowlers. On slow, turning wickets, any quick bowler selected to play ought to be a swing bowler. Also, Roach has been the number-one strike bowler for some years. The young Seales is quite accurate and swings the ball late. Plus he’s genuinely quick.
The selection of the playing team lacked thought, imagination and knowledge. Slow left-arm orthodox spinner Veerasammy Permaul ought to be in the final 11 as well. before the lumbering Rahkeem Cornwall.
Talking about selectors, I see that Johnny Grave, CEO of CWI, leaked that Chris Gayle could be playing against Ireland in a one-off T20 match at Sabina Park so that he could say goodbye to his fans in Jamaica.
A cricketer should deserve his place on the side. Is Grave a selector?