West Indies fast bowling legend Sir Andy Roberts says West Indies players need to hold themselves accountable for their results on the field and not shirk responsibility to other persons or situations.
Roberts made the comment during an interview on the Mason and Guest cricket show on the Voice of Barbados Tuesday night. He was commenting on the Windies 1-2 defeat to England in the recent #Raisethebat tour when they conceded the Wisden Trophy.
Asked whose heads should roll for the Wisden dethroning, Roberts retorted: “Whose head? No the problem I have is when I hear (fellow guest) Kieran (Powell) talking about (the lack of) infrastructure ...but I would like to know how many hours a day these (other) guys practice because infrastructure will not make you a better player. You have got to make yourself a better player and I don’t think the commitment is there among a lot of West Indies players, not only the Test players but a lot of the people who play cricket in the West Indies.”
Roberts said the blame for the current state of affairs was being put in the wrong place.
“The coaches, president, directors and selectors all get the blame but the players are the ones who are failing,” Roberts said
He continued: “I don’t think they commit themselves enough because if you do, you wouldn’t be averaging 30s in first-class cricket...you can’t beat any team in the world with those sort of averages.”
He urged the current group of players:”First you have to go and stand up in front the mirror and ask: ‘What am I doing to improve because’ unless or until our players improve their batting, we are not going to score runs against the strong teams in the world.”
Speaking directly about what went wrong in England, Roberts said the WI failed to plan properly and appropriately after that initial four-wicket win in the opening Test in Southampton, especially considering the health status of their returning pacer Shannon Gabriel who was returning to the first team after an ankle operation that sidelined him since last October.
“I thought after performing so well in the first Test, they should have left him out in the second Test because England would have to win two consecutive Test matches to win the series,” Roberts said. “All of us can see how Shannon bowled in the second Test and then you continue again with him in the third Test match, so we didn’t plan very well.”
However, CWI lead selector and former WI coach Roger Harper said while the end-result was disappointing, the total tour had to be put in perspective.
“We were very elated after the victory in the first Test and we expected that we would continue to play at a very high level and even get better.” However, Harper said things changed in the series on the fourth day of the second Test.
“We really collapsed in that first innings and let the opponents in. We missed a crucial catch on the morning of the fifth day when England was looking to score quickly and that really could have made a little difference in terms of time England took to set the target and total they wanted to set us, and again we failed to bat out two sessions and a half,” Harper noted.
But Harper added the data demonstrated an improvement in the WI run average per wicket was higher than had been achieved for a number of series.
“I thought we were capable of doing better and should have been able to do better but then we have to look at where we go from here and what we can learn for that tour and what we need to do to make sure we give better performances going forward,” Harper stated.
Harper said besides the need for technical improvements among the batsmen, players also needed to develop a greater desire to stay at the crease and scoring heavily at the first-class level before they could transfer that performance to the highest level. “So when you get at the Test level, it is in your sub-conscious,” Harper stressed.
Back to Roberts, he had some advice for the Trinidad and Tobago Red Force’s Joshua Da Silva, a reserve player on the tour of England, whose runs in the practice matches prompted discussion about whether he should have been drafted into the Test squad. Da Silva was also a guest on the show.
“My advice to him would be to focus on his game,” said Roberts. “Don’t depend on anybody’s help to get you forward, you have got to make the first move. You have got to seek help because people won’t come to you, You have to go and seek help, train hard and practice every day if you can, three four hours every day, because practice makes perfect and perfect practice makes you even more perfect...You are the only one that can move you forward. Nobody can move you, you have to move yourself!”