Butcher tells CWI to start U23 tournament reflecting top-class season


By Kimberly Cummins

West Indies cricket will continue to have a revolving door of coaches and failures if the core of its problem is not addressed.

Following West Indies fast bowling great Sir Andy Roberts’ claim that Cricket West Indies (CWI) erred in re-hiring former player Phil Simmons as manager of the senior men’s side on a contract four-year-old Roland Butcher has said sacking Simmons will not solve the fundamental structural problem of cricket in the Caribbean. Instead, the former Barbados fly-half and England international pushed forward the setting up of an Under-23 tournament to redress what is now WI cricket’s decades-long decline.

Speaking to Barbados TODAY by phone from New Jersey where he is commenting on the International Cricket Council (ICC) men’s World Cup qualifier, Butcher claimed the lack of a bridge between the under 19 and franchise cricket has contributed significantly to the lack of competition for squad places and players becoming complacent, ultimately leading some to believe that CWI is at their beck and call.

“You shouldn’t choose when you want to play and when not to play for your national team. Australia doesn’t beg players to come and play for them, you either make yourself available and play or you make yourself unavailable and play. “Australia is moving on. England don’t have the same problems as us. How many times have you seen England play series, in any form of cricket, without their main players playing can “be somewhere else? You don’t. No Indians play in any other franchise tournament, they are not allowed to. They can opt out of the national team and do whatever they want, but as long as they will be available for selection, the Indians will not. [refuse to play].

“But the West Indies are very lenient when it comes to granting NoCs [No Objection Certificates], they do not refuse any NoC. I just saw Wanindu Hasaranga turn down a NoC to play in the Hundred and it was worth £100,000 but they [Sri Lanka Cricket] refuse the NoC because they need him to play. And that comes back to the point that I mean, there’s no competition so [players] believe they can come and go as they please. . . . And they are right because no pressure is coming their way. If our system was different and there was competition, we would drop these guys. You wouldn’t even consider wanting to include them when they deem fit to play. But as it stands, your barrel is pretty empty,” Butcher argued.

To CWI’s credit, Butcher, the retired head coach of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill Athletic Academy, acknowledged that the board tried to fill the void by including a team from the under 23 in the regional team. Super50 Cup, and this team won in its first year. Additionally, the regional body has now set up a Rising Stars Academy made up of players under the age of 23, of which 15 players have been given one-year contracts.
and will train for an entire year. Next year’s renewal will be performance-based. This evolution which takes place in the 19-23 age group is extremely important. However, the former top-flight coach still believes there is a need for a CWI-hosted regional Under-23 tournament to run alongside the premier-class season.

Butcher noted that until then, CWI will continue to spend a lot of money, time and effort to train players from under-13 to under-19, and then when the under-19 tournament is over, they won’t have anything else for those players. Thus, players have to go to the cricket club which, Butcher added, in the case of Barbados, lacks resources, and with a deficit of good training facilities and constraints on training times.

Therefore, because they no longer have the support of coaches and equipment that were used for example at Everton Weekes
Center of excellence and no competition, naturally these players will regress.

Moreover, he didn’t think it was realistic to expect a 19-year-old straight out of the Under-19s to join a franchise team or the Barbados senior team. For this reason, Butcher estimated that over the past decade West Indies cricket has lost an average of around 1,000 of the region’s top under-19 players out of the system.

“How can a small space like the Caribbean with six million people, a small percentage of whom play cricket, lose 1,000 in ten years and then expect to compete with the best in the world? You can not ! Butcher maintained.

He continued: “It’s impossible and it’s the void in our development process that is holding our players back. If there is competition from below, two things will happen, either they will increase their performance or they will be eliminated. So I urge Cricket West Indies to somehow find the resources to have an Under 23 season the same way they would have the Under 19 tournament. . . . So if for example Barbados need to change a player in the squad and their Under 23s have played at the same time in the season and you have someone who is performing well, you bring that person into the squad because she is already ready to play.

“Our system has to be better if we want to compete, if not you can bring in whoever you want as a manager, as a coach, as whoever it is and there will be no no difference in results – none at all. You don’t attack the symptom. You have a cold, but you haven’t figured out why you have a cold, so you will keep having a cold. And that’s our problem The reaction of people is, we have to change this, we have to change that. There are times when people need to change, but unless you do these other things well, you will change forever – forever” , Butcher pointed out.

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