Former Windies fast bowler Kenny Benjamin says that cricket in the Caribbean is suffering from players’ lack of loyalty and commitment and that intervention is required to save the sport.
The Antiguan called for coaches, mentors, teachers, and parents to “teach these youngsters, even before they get into national youth teams and so on, about commitment and loyalty”.
“We cannot just believe we want to make money from cricket and we’re not loyal to anyone or any particular thing. The mentality and the thinking show me why we are struggling,” he said on the Mason & Guest radio show here on Tuesday night when asked what advice he would give to young Windies cricketers to improve their performances, particularly in the longer format of the game.
Benjamin’s comments also came against the background of controversial public outbursts by Windies batting star Chris Gayle, who ranted on his former Windies teammate, Ramnaresh Sarwan, after being released from Caribbean Premier League (CPL) franchise team Jamaica Tallawahs.
In a three-part video on YouTube in which he referred to the Tallawahs assistant coach in unflattering terms, Gayle accused Sarwan of conspiring with management of the franchise to get rid of him. But Sarwan and Tallawahs management have since responded to Gayle, refuting his claims.
The 53-year-old Benjamin, who played 26 Tests and 26 One-Day Internationals for the Windies in his career, said disagreements among players back then were handled differently.
“A guy said something, you deal with it. You tell him off, and you move on. It was more a fight between the territorial boards. Now, [Cricket West Indies, CWI] is trying to become a professional organisation. It seems to me it’s like it’s the players now where there is a separation. It seems to me like dog eat dog, every man for himself, everybody thinking in their own space,” he said.
“And I think that is the challenge for us, and we need to fix that, and we need to fix that at a very early age because once you go into international level with that mentality, that kind of mindset, it’s going to create some problems.”
Benjamin also had some suggestions for CWI to improve the regional game.
“We need to make the regional franchise fully professional. They need to function that way and not just the regional level. They need to look at youth development, coaching education. All of these things have to be in play and have to be working as well-oiled machinery,” he said.
“What we’re seeing at an international level is just the fruit that we’re bearing. So we really and truly have to start to get the franchises functioning properly, making sure that when these guys would have reached Under-19s, the whole mindset and the whole training, the mental aspect and everything would be ready for them to move on to the next level.”
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