Wake up West Indies says Joe Hoad

Sa’adi Thawfeeq, in http://www.nation.lk/2010/11/21/sports4.htm

Noted sports psychologist and cricket coach Joe Hoad called on the entire West Indies population to wake up and come together to uplift their cricket before it is too late. “People have to realise that Australia is a complete team. The taxi driver driving you to the cricket will tell you Australia is going to win but in the West Indies people are more interested in dollars and cents. They criticise and criticise but they don’t do anything,” Hoad told The Nation.

“It makes no sense to me the whole West Indies will have to wake up, administrators, coaches, selectors and everybody must come together and say what is best for West Indies cricket. How can we climb this ladder again? It can be done. We’ve done it before and we can do it again. But it needs an all round effort,” he said.

        Two master blasters —Pic by Ajit Jayasekera 

Sobers greets Satha in Sri Lanka–see Essaying Cricket, by Michael Roberts

 Joe Hoad celebrates Sri Lanka’s triumph in World cup, 1996, by producing two paintings … seen here in back garden of Michael Roberts’s house in AdelaideExplaining the gradual decline of West Indies cricket, Hoad said, “West Indies cricket at it strongest rung always had very good players waiting to get into the team. The standard of cricket was very high at club level. There were a lot more people playing cricket and the wider the bottom of the pyramid, the higher it goes. There were a lot of people who saw the amount of money you could make if you were playing basketball in America. A lot of people went that way because we had very tall people descending from the tribes of Africa. A lot of scouts went and took up these guys, who would have normally played cricket, to America to play their sport and the money was fantastic.

“Then we had the situation when we were beating everybody with Malcolm Marshall, Joel Garner and Michael Holding sometimes in three days. We beat England in every Test match in the series when (Geoff) Boycott was captain. The match in Guyana started after tea on the first day so we actually beat England in 2¼ days. The caterers were selling stuff for five-day cricket and they were not getting it. And stupidly rather than make the wickets quicker they dug out all the wickets in the West Indies from dirt (black mole as we call it) and put in clay. Now the wickets have become very dead and very low and nobody is encouraged to bowl fast anymore,” he said.

 Desmond Haynes chats with the Lankan cricketers in the Caribbean — Pic by Ajit Jayasekera

“It’s back breaking to bowl on a wicket like that. I could think of only three fast bowlers who could have bowled well on that wicket on the first day possibly Charlie Griffith and Graham McKenzie and Ray Lindwall from Australia. I don’t think John Snow would have bowled on it he would have refused. It is a very flat track and they cannot make it wake up like those three fast bowlers.”
Continuing further Hoad said, “In the early days we had Martindale, Constantine, Francis and Herman Griffith – four great fast bowlers, Achong and a few others bowled spin not any great spin. Then we went through an era where we had Hall and Griffith and some very good quicks because we had dropped off Dennis Atkinson and Berkeley Gaskin both medium and slow medium bowlers. Then we had a great spinner Lance Gibbs. We worked round them and we had other guys who could bowl a few overs and who could get you through the overs of the day. Then the Clive Lloyd era came after Frank Worrell and Garry Sobers got us together as a team. Then we got Andy Roberts who in my opinion is as great as any fast bowler that ever lived. There was Wayne Daniel, Colin Croft, Michael Holding and Sylvester Clarke – all these fast bowlers following each other. Then Malcolm Marshall came he was extremely quick and it just went on from there.

“I don’t know if they thought these people were going to play forever for we never got any youngsters in. So these young guys got disgusted and gave the game away. Very good young fast bowlers like Courtney Salmon and Timothy Gum all these fellows you never heard of them because there was never room for them. We blooded Brian Lara and he was a tremendous success. Then all of a sudden in one year we lost Fredericks, Greenidge, Richards, Richardson, Dujon, Logie, Gomes, Lloyd and Kanhai retired. We lost within a calendar year Ambrose and Walsh our two spearheads and we really hadn’t blooded anybody to take their places. Along came Nixon Maclean, and Short and they were not of the same caliber so basically we’ve gone downhill. Now we’ve got to get back on the ladder and work hard.”

Hoad said that it is easy to be critical and added, ‘you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink’. “If the guys were willing to work hard and put in a lot of effort they are not going to get out. There is no such thing as a genius. Every human being in the world was born equal and it’s how hard they work that has made them something. Forty years ago failure to climb Everest was defeat of humanity. Now a man is trying this in a wheel chair. It’s a different world,” said Hoad.

“We have to get back to our grass roots. Years ago we didn’t have coaches but in actual fact we had 40 coaches where every member of the cricket club that played in the era would come to the practice and matches and gave good advice to youngsters. Everybody was an advisor but they weren’t paid coaches. Now fellows who have finished playing cricket don’t go back to the ground. They go yachting, fishing or sit in front of a computer. It’s a totally different era we are living in where there are too many distractions.”
Hoad had a bad experience as psychologist of the West Indies teams of 1999 and 2000.
“In 1999 Rudi Webster, who did the same course on sports psychology as I, was in Grenada working with the academy and Jimmy Adams who was captain of West Indies thought a little mental help especially for the new guys would be useful against the pressure of the Australian crowds, the banging on the barriers and all the barracking. He suggested to the manager they call in a sports psychologist,” said Hoad.

“They asked a doctor from Jamaica who was with the Jamaican team at the Olympics and he recommended me. The manager phoned me and asked me whether I would be interested in the job and I flew to Tasmania and I stayed with them. After that they invited me to West Indies for the 2000 series which we virtually threw away against South Africa. We played a little better but not good enough. It wasn’t that they were getting out to brute balls which they got on occasions but by gifting their wickets playing totally undisciplined shots,” he said.
“I just felt the attitude was wrong with some of the players. I have no proof to this but I felt the rejection from some of the players was because I was of European decent. I said to the West Indies Board I could not cope with this. That I was hearing things from people at Test level that I wouldn’t hear from kids at under 13 level. I resigned and went back to South Australia. They actually weren’t paying me much money as I was earning in South Australia for the same job and I was home with my wife.”

Born in Barbados Hoad aged 73 had five brothers who all played cricket either at grade level or for Barbados. Hoad’s father Teddy Hoad was the first-ever West Indies Test cricket captain in the West Indies. He captained West Indies in the drawn first Test at Bridgetown in 1929-30 and did not play in the other Tests, the captaincy in those times being the preserve of the home island. He appeared in four Tests for West Indies and when he died in 1986 at the age of 90 he was their oldest Test cricketer.

When Hoad won a scholarship he had the choice of either going to University to study medicine or to play cricket. “My father said to me you can always study but you can’t always get cricket contracts. Go to the cricket. I went to Central Lancashire league and worked there as a professional then went to London and worked at Mitchum as a professional and after that I made a decision to get married. I spent six years in University to become a doctor so I did clinical and child psychology. I played professional cricket and in 1963 became a coach. I did my first coaching accreditation for kids.

When the Australian junior team came to West Indies, Hoad got a break to coach in South Australia through team manager Bob Jamison a passionate cricket lover who was Managing Director Coca Cola South Australia. He became state director/coach for table tennis and combined with his cricket coaching he found the strain too much and two years ago after suffering a stroke he subsequently had a heart attack. “I had to slow down quite a bit. I was coaching a district club and a college I just found it too much.”

Hoad was voted coach of the year on seven occasions but he considered the award as a farce. “All the coaches get together at the end of the year and they say let’s look at the success of the junior teams, and because I was a success they voted me coach of the year. The whole point is if you send (Kumar) Sangakkara and (Mahela) Jayawardene to a coach they are also as a matter good coaches because they are world class players. Most of the great players don’t need a coach. I don’t believe in pride and ego. It means nothing to me it’s only a title.”
It was while he was coaching in Townsville he came across a post graduate course in sports psychology. “I got psychology in my repertoire already and I thought why not go and do it. I became a sports psychologist with athletes for the 2000 Olympics and even before that at the Atlanta Olympics with the Australian Institute of Sports and with the paraOlympians.”
Hoad said that psychology was common sense, a mental approach where sometimes you may have to do imagery things like visualization of how a 400 metre runner runs in each of the eight lanes because it is a different technique. “There were some people who came back really well against medium-pace bowlers but when they come up against Shaun Tait (Australian fast bowler) they don’t want to play. Everybody doesn’t have the same amount of courage. Tait is fast but is straight and you have to get through to them that you are not playing for yourself but for your club so let’s do the right thing.”
In Hoad’s opinion Charlie Griffith was the greatest bowler ‘who ever walked on grass’. “I am judging him during his best years 1960 to 1962-63 before he injured his shoulder throwing in Dominica and he was never the same Charlie Griffith again.”

“They said that he was a chucker but Charlie was only no-balled twice and both the umpires admitted they didn’t think he chucked, but they called him because they were instructed to call him,” said Hoad. “Arthur Fagg no-balled him against Oxford in 1963 and then admitted that he was instructed to do so by Ted Dexter (then England captain). Cortez Jordan no-balled him for throwing in India’s match against Barbados in 1962 in the over before he knocked down Gaekwad and hit (Nari) Contractor on his head and sent him to Canada for a brain operation. Apparently Jordan was instructed by Dennis Atkinson to no-ball him. I spoke to Atkinson about this because I was there and he said it doesn’t matter if he chucked or not ‘we got to get him out of cricket or he is going to kill somebody’. This was his attitude yet when West Indies had four fast bowlers they never pitched up a ball to let a man drive. It worked in cycles.”

Voicing his opinion on the standard of cricket today, Hoad said, “The standard of cricket all over the world is much lower than the cricket that I know. The standard of some games have become quicker and faster like soccer. Unfortunately in cricket and a few other games the standard has dropped a little bit. Apart from China the standard of table tennis has dropped all over the world because it doesn’t attract big money. In tennis except for the top five or six men and women the standard drops off. In the days of Martina (Navratilova), Chris (Evert) and (Ken) Rosewall about 40 people could have won Wimbledon.

“We are in a situation where I don’t have the answer I could only guess that some restructuring has to be done. Now people are playing so much 50 and 20 over cricket that we are losing technique. Sri Lanka just played some short versions of the game in Australia and you saw how (Tillakaratne) Dilshan got out. He was still playing the shorter version. But this is where the money is. People want to see Twenty20 and 50 over they want an afternoon’s entertainment like a basketball game. They don’t want to sit down and watch five days of a Test match. This is what life is,” he said.

Hoad spent a fortnight in Sri Lanka coaching kids affected by the tsunami and also witnessed the first three days play of the first cricket Test between Sri Lanka and West Indies at Galle before flying back to South Australia.
“I’ve been working with the Foundation of Goodness which is a fantastic organisation. I enjoyed coaching the kids both in cricket and table tennis. There is a lot of potential and I even coached a ladies team. I really enjoyed it. I love Sri Lanka especially the food,” said Hoad who was on his first visit to the country.

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