Help! TTFA hiding & Windies drifting!

I, like many of you, re­main ut­ter­ly frus­trat­ed with the ex­ec­u­tive of the T&T Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (TTFA). It makes ab­solute­ly no sense writ­ing any­thing more about them. They just don't seem to care about our foot­ball, much less our foot­ballers in T&T. They sent our So­ca Princess­es to be em­bar­rassed in the re­cent­ly con­clud­ed 2018 CON­CA­CAF Women's Cham­pi­onship, the tour­na­ment which serves as the qual­i­fiers to the 2019 FI­FA Women's World Cup in France.

The team end­ed with ze­ro points and con­ced­ed 14 goals from three match­es. But the one thing the TTFA ex­ec­u­tive ap­pears good at is keep­ing all the con­tracts and fi­nan­cials for their beloved 'home of foot­ball' top se­cret. They are so tal­ent­ed; the way they shift in­for­ma­tion, the ex­ec­u­tive should run for of­fice in the Chess As­so­ci­a­tion. Imag­ine, a TTA Board mem­ber has to take them to court to gain ac­cess to the As­so­ci­a­tion's fi­nan­cial records and con­tracts re­lat­ing to the con­tro­ver­sial project in Cou­va. Am I miss­ing some­thing here? Of course not. This is their modus operan­di.

The once mighty Windies (25 years ago) were crushed by In­dia in the 2 test match­es both in­side 3 days but I hope no one was sur­prised, as I had in­di­cat­ed we would have need­ed a ma­jor mir­a­cle to get any­thing from the se­ries. So nat­u­ral­ly, to rub salt in­to an ex­treme­ly bad wound and en­sure it hurts, even more, the In­ter­na­tion­al Crick­et Coun­cil (ICC) de­duct­ed 1 rat­ing point to leave us still lan­guish­ing in 9th spot with 76 points ahead of Bangladesh on 67 points. What's in­ter­est­ing is the Windies tour the “Tigers” next month for a cru­cial 2 test se­ries. Hav­ing beat­en them here last month in a two test se­ries quite con­vinc­ing­ly, one has to hope we will come out on top in the se­ries. If the un­think­able were to hap­pen and we lose in Bangladesh, then the Tigers could well be turn­ing around to look at us be­hind them in the rank­ings but that's all in the fu­ture.

I am hop­ing we are at least com­pet­i­tive in the short­er ver­sions of the game in In­dia from this Sun­day, but let us do a lit­tle soul search­ing with this 6 days two test se­ries. Skip­per Ja­son Hold­er (I still feel sor­ry for the young man) says it's hard to take. He can't un­der­stand the rea­son why it is hap­pen­ing and every­one needs to put their heads to­geth­er i.e. the man­age­ment, se­lec­tors and play­ers.

Nice words from Ja­son; he comes across as an ex­treme­ly good, hum­ble and lev­el-head­ed in­di­vid­ual. He is with­out doubt one of the good guys in Windies crick­et. Could you imag­ine if the man be­ing in­ter­viewed was Sir Vi­vian Richards? Do I have to draft a tran­script for the in­ter­view would be like? Quite sim­ply, Ja­son, we have some in­di­vid­u­als who are just not good enough or to put it an­oth­er way, we have square pegs in round holes.

Our bat­ting has some tal­ent but when in three in­nings from four you can't score 200 runs, then se­ri­ous tech­ni­cal prob­lems arise. Kraigg Brath­waite has a good av­er­age of 36.54 with eight cen­turies and 17 half cen­turies in 96 in­nings since mak­ing his de­but in 2011, but af­ter sev­en years he is too in­con­sis­tent. How­ev­er, he thinks he is the rock of Gibral­tar and can­not be dropped so it mat­ters not if he makes 2, 8 or 78, he will still be in the team.

Kier­an Pow­ell al­so made his de­but in 2011 and has an av­er­age of 27.98 with 3 cen­turies and 6 half cen­turies in 72 in­nings - a dis­as­ter. Shai Hope who de­buted in 2015, av­er­ages 30.25 in 45 in­nings with 2 cen­turies and 4 half cen­turies. Ros­ton Chase is 34.80 from 44 in­nings since he de­buted in 2016 with 4 cen­turies and 6 half cen­turies. I will leave Shim­ron Het­my­er and Sunil Am­bris out as they have on­ly bat­ted 16 and 8 in­nings re­spec­tive­ly. Put that in­to con­text with the top 5 In­di­an bats­men all av­er­ag­ing above 40, with the ex­cep­tion of KL Rahul who av­er­ages 37.71 and is in dan­ger of be­ing dropped then Vi­rat Kohli who is in a league of his own with 54.57. We can­not ex­pect 250 and above con­sis­tent­ly from our bats­men with the av­er­ages they pos­sess.

I have pre­vi­ous­ly writ­ten that in our bowl­ing out­side of Hold­er who has im­proved con­sid­er­ably, Shan­non Gabriel when he is ag­gres­sive and fir­ing, and Ke­mar Roach when he is fit, we have no test match spin­ners. When our faster men are tired and when the pitch is wear­ing, we have De­ven­dra Bishoo who has a test av­er­age of 37.77 and is a shad­ow of the bowler he was when he made his de­but in 2011. Jomel War­ri­can has on­ly just start­ed his ca­reer in 2015 and has an av­er­age of 46.92. By con­trast, the In­di­an spin­ners Ravi Ash­win on 25.44, Ravin­dra Jade­ja on 23.50 and Kuldeep Ya­dav on 25.26. It is there­fore easy to un­der­stand the huge gap in the abil­i­ty of the test teams. To put it in­to per­spec­tive, a don­key has en­tered a horse race but the own­ers know the don­key can't win.

So what is the so­lu­tion? First­ly, our smil­ing se­lec­tors have to make some brave de­ci­sions, think out­side the box and give oth­er play­ers an op­por­tu­ni­ty. This crop will soon un­der­stand that you are picked by per­for­mance and not by name.

They have to iden­ti­fy some gift­ed 19-21-year-olds from open­ing bats­men, right down to the mid­dle or­der, wick­et­keep­ers, fast men and spin­ners of all types, and train them for 1 year from Sun­day to Sun­day. Get our leg­ends to spend time with them and give them the right kind of train­ing.

It can be done, we just have to set up the right en­vi­ron­ment or 'cra­paud smoke we pipe' as it is the cra­paud who has the lighter in hand to smoke away Windies crick­et at in­ter­na­tion­al test lev­el.