Leeds win high­light of Windies ten­ure: Law

-says player fit­ness is an is­sue

Stabroek News - - STABROEK SPORT -

LON­DON, CMC — Three months af­ter he an­nounced his res­ig­na­tion as West In­dies head coach, Stu­art Law has been re­flect­ing on his ten­ure at the re­gional side, point­ing to the Windies’ first Test vic­tory over Eng­land in 17 years as the high­light of his ten­ure.

Law’s last series in charge was the tour of In­dia last month when West In­dies lost the Test, ODI and T20 series.

“Not just win­ning it, but get­ting the boys back up into a men­tal space af­ter the first Test where we got ab­so­lutely wal­loped, and then to come out and out­play Eng­land in all facets was an amaz­ing achieve­ment,” Law said of the team’s five-wicket win over Eng­land in the se­cond Test at Leeds last year.

“I didn’t have to do a hell of a lot. The boys were hurt; and I just high­light cer­tain things that were be­ing said back home, and by cer­tain peo­ple in the me­dia in Eng­land… I said, ‘these peo­ple don’t think you’re good enough.

“You’ve just got to go out there and prove you are. I be­lieve you are. Ev­ery­one in this room thinks you are good enough. So get out there and show them.'”

West In­dies were ham­mered in the first Test at Birm­ing­ham by an in­nings and 209 runs but then chased down 322 on the fi­nal day to pull off an as­ton­ish­ing vic­tory in the se­cond Test.

Law suc­ceeded Phil Sim­mons as head coach two years ago af­ter the for­mer was sacked by West In­dies ad­min­is­tra­tors over “dif­fer­ences in cul­ture and strate­gic ap­proach”.

Sim­mons led the team to vic­tory in the ICC T20 World Cup in In­dia in 2016, and prior to that he played a key role in Ire­land’s rise as a non-Test play­ing na­tion. How­ever clashes with Windies bosses over se­lec­tion, as well as his views chal­leng­ing the Board, re­sulted in his demise af­ter 18 months on the job.

In an in­ter­view with Cricbuzz, Law noted that one of his chal­lenges was ef­fect­ing a cul­tural change within the team.

“It was quite ev­i­dent that there was a cul­tural change that needed to take place. The hard­est thing to change is cul­ture,” the Aus­tralian pointed out.

“In my first cou­ple of months in charge, you could re­alise that the play­ers aren’t fit. Nig­gling in­juries were pre­vent­ing play­ers from per­form­ing at their very best on the ground. Our work ethic prob­a­bly wasn’t where we needed it to be. That was the first change: to try and get the mind­set around that.”

Law said he pri­ori­tised dis­ci­pline and stressed the im­por­tance of com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

“From the on­set I said, I want to see us as a fam­ily, and in a fam­ily, if some­one’s not do­ing what they should be do­ing, they should get told,” he ex­plained.

“An open, hon­est con­ver­sa­tion is not to hurt, it’s to help you get bet­ter. That’s the first thing I tried to in­still – the fam­ily as­pect to it. From there, it was just in­stalling a lit­tle bit of dis­ci­pline here and there. I didn’t want to go in and change ten things in the first week, but one thing in ten weeks.

“Then add an­other thing. And then all of a sud­den, one thing leads to three, and an­other in the next week.”

He con­tin­ued: “For me, it was to find some­thing that’s work­ing. The first step was try to get the boys fit­ter and stronger; to cope with the amount of cricket that they’re play­ing; then try and in­stall that un­der­neath the (in­ter­na­tional) level, so when they come up to us, they’re al­ready fit and strong, so that they’re not do­ing their fit­ness and strength work on the road while play­ing cricket.”

Law ac­knowl­edged that the foun­da­tion in the Caribbean needed to be laid at the ju­nior level, how­ever some schools have stopped their cricket pro­grammes as they pri­ori­tise ed­u­ca­tion over sport.

Nev­er­the­less he re­mained hope­ful.

“If they can still in­stil the love of it back in the ju­niors and the young kids, it would help. There has to be a sys­tem in place,” he said.

“It would be nice to get an academy up and run­ning, which­ever is­land it’s on. An academy where young play­ers of note can come and do a three-month pro­gramme for fit­ness and strength, first and fore­most, rather than cricket skill.

“They’ve all got cricket skill; they’re nat­u­ral ath­letes. But to get the func­tional strength and anaer­o­bic ca­pac­ity is what made the great West In­dian team stand out from the rest. They were fit­ter than ev­ery­one else. Now the rest of the world has caught up and gone past. Now ev­ery­one knows that if you’re not fit, you’re not go­ing to play.”

At the time of his ap­point­ment Law was given a man­date to im­prove the re­sults of the West In­dies, but he en­dured a dif­fi­cult pe­riod with the team.

He won only six of his Tests in charge, and picked up series wins against min­nows Zim­babwe and Bangladesh in the six tours he has over­seen.

Law will take up the new post of head coach at Mid­dle­sex CCC in the New Year.

For­mer West In­dies head coach, Stu­art Law.

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