IN the late nineties, I spent a few days in Johannesburg, South Africa at the home of a friend who was the manager of a junior South African Cricket team that had just returned from a tournament in Barbados. After a few pleasantries about Barbados he said: “West Indies cricket will go into a serious nosedive because your school cricket and club cricket are poor. In South Africa our schools and clubs are the nurseries for our senior teams.” How prophetic he was!
Soon after, I recalled some comments that Frank Worrell made in 1961 about the role unstructured games, school cricket, club cricket, self learning and self coaching played in the development and success of West Indies cricket. He said: ‘I was playing cricket six hours a day and we would practise in the mornings before school in the far corner of the Fourth Eleven field. At the age of ten I bowled at many senior players at Empire Club when they ran out of practice bowlers.
“We used to prepare our own wickets in the far corner of the Empire ground and we played cricket for days and days in the vacation from nine in the morning to 3.30 in the afternoon when the club members started to practise. Our matches were played to an end and at times you found yourself batting for three days and then you had to go back and field for another day or two and it was in this environment that I started to learn about the game and my game.”