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Poor coaching is letting us down

Last week I sat and read Dale Butler’s article pertaining to Bermuda cricket. While reading the article several things came to mind. Like Mr. Butler, I too ask myself this question: with Bermuda having invested so much in our youth program, a woman’s program and our national squad, where has it all gone wrong?

I think I have the answer and the solution all in one. Coaching! Coaching! Coaching!

Are our coaches at the club level and international level up to standard? Are we as coaches actually focusing on what needs to be taught? These are the questions that are worth pondering, and after investigating I may find out that I am barking up the wrong tree. However, I believe this is truly where the problem lies.

Let’s face it, we have talented cricketers, but is talent futile without knowledge and understanding of the game. Our players are capable of playing all of the cricketing strokes in the book. Coach Moore has highlighted how gifted some of our players are, but the question still remains the same. Why then do we fail to compete? Our players lack understanding of the game, mental toughness and team unity. All of these flaws can be corrected through education of the game, all provided through coaching.

One of the problems that we as a country have fed into is continuous net sessions and batting in the middle while neglecting to educate our players on tactics and real game situations.

We lack the drive to teach the theory that is an integral part of success in cricket. Our players lack cricket game sense and awareness of what a situation requires. There is an old saying, “You don’t have to be a captain to think like one”. When I grew up every player was told to think the game as if they were captaining the team, simulating the thought process and concentration needed in cricket.

Today, players show up and put the entire onus on the captain and therefore lack the discipline and concentration required while on the field. The reality is that the more players you have on the field that are thinking and understanding the game the better chance you will have of being successful.

Prime example of this was this year’s Cup Match. It is not by luck that over the past few years St. George’s have been dominant in getting the upper hand on Somerset year in and year out.

St. George’s have thinkers in our team in the likes of Lionel Cann, Oronde Bascome, OJ Pitcher, Delyone Borden, Rodney Trott, and Jason Anderson, just to name a few. These guys have all captained teams in the past and are not afraid to share their knowledge of game situations with the team.

Those huddles at last month’s Cup Match were made up of a group of St. George’s players discussing tactics in between overs because every over is crucial, and making the right decision is critical.

Cricket education needs to be taught from an early age to go along with the technical aspects so that we produce well-rounded players. This is a skill that needs to be taught Island wide in the clubs.

The time has come for our coaches to be assessed and scrutinized at both the club and international level. If a deficiency in coaches is found at the club level as it relates to weakness or substandard coaching then the clubs should have an avenue to seek assistance from the Bermuda Cricket Board.

In turn the Board has to do things differently. They need to broaden their horizons and be flexible with their goals to incorporate the clubs. The BCB has a coaching panel in place that should be requested to branch out and spread their knowledge to other clubs. The Board should not be asking, but telling those clubs that they are sending their coaches there to give them assistance in an effort to raise the standards Island wide.

This brings about the next question and part of the problem; are our current coaches good enough? and if so, why are they limited when it comes to furthering their coaching education?

Most coaches on the Island have a Level One and Level Two English and West Indies coaching qualification, but that’s it. Why have they not gone on to further themselves? To be Bermuda’s national coach one requirement is to be a Level 3 coach, so that basically eliminates all coaches in Bermuda with the exception of maybe Wendell Smith and Allan Douglas. Unfortunately the courses that have been made available to Bermudians by theBoard thus far have only been up to Level 2.

Basically, the more coaching opportunities coaches have the better prepared and more skilled they would be. Bermuda needs to find more coaching courses for our top coaches to attend so that they can stay on par with the rest of the coaches around the world. Right now we are being left behind and it is showing in the cricketers that we are producing.

I recall years ago I went to an ECB coaching seminar that I found online at Loughborough, England. At the seminar for coaches they had between 10-15 different aspects of the game that you as a coach could choose to go to. Each coach was allowed two different courses per day and it was a two-day seminar. I registered for a course taught by Duncan Fletcher on batting against spin bowling. I chose this course because I was aware of the major weakness it posed here in Bermuda.

Another course, which was taught by Rod Marsh, was about The Making of a Cricket Academy. I always respected Australian cricket and was curious of how they formed their Academy and the finer details of it. I could go on and on, but I won’t. However I said all that to say this, there are loads of different coaching courses and seminars that can improve the standard of coaching in Bermuda that we as a country need to tap into.

While at these seminars they often displayed some of the latest technology, which we in Bermuda are not privy to until months later. Hence the reason why we need to be tapping into these sources so that we as a country are kept abreast. To go to these seminars and courses is one thing, but upon returning one must be willing to share the knowledge, as the aim is to improve the country as a whole.

Having lived in England last winter I formed a link with an English club. They are interested in me coaching their team in the future, an offer that I am seriously considering. Personally, I have a dream of one day coaching the Bermuda National team, but I, just like Clarence Parfitt will not limit myself to just coaching in Bermuda. I think it is important to branch out and gain as much experience as possible. I like to watch other coaches and learn from them.

Coaching is an art, you have to be passionate about it, and you have to have something that drives you. For me, what drives me is seeing improvement in players who others feel are inferior or just can’t make it at the top level. Some coaches are driven by winning, and success, while others are driven by prestige and finances. Coaches should ask themselves what drives them?

Coaches are most important element in having success because they are the ones that tie everything together to obtain the finished product.

Like I said we have talent in Bermuda, but the finished product that we produce is inconsistent talent. Coaches are responsible for bringing 20 players together and working towards a common goal. How many of our coaches do team building skills? Do they even know what team building skills are and why they are important? Why have we not exposed our club players to a sports psychologist who can assist with mental preparation? These are all things we need to introduce throughout the Island so that we as a country can succeed.

Bermuda the time has come when we must educate our coaches so that they can educate our players, thus producing a more complete player. Having programmes in place is one thing, but those who run the programmes are even more important.

Lastly, to those that make a difference in cricket I want to say this. You are not judged by all the fancy programmes you have in place, you are judged by what those programmes produce.

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Published August 12, 2011 at 2:00 am (Updated August 12, 2011 at 9:40 am)

Poor coaching is letting us down

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