Cricket greats give Berbice youngsters priceless tips on nurturing future

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By Akeem Greene

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Legendary West Indian pacer Sir Anderson Roberts, opening batsman Desmond Haynes, who is still considered one of the best the world has seen, the dodged and successful middle-order batsman, James Adams, and Barbadian-born England player, Roland Butcher, captivated a young audience of budding Berbican cricketers and their parents.

The quartet spoke at an interactive session organised by the Berbice Cricket Board (BCB) at the Albion Sports Complex on Saturday.

According to Hilbert Foster, current BCB President, the aim of the “life/career-building” engagement was for the youngsters to pick the minds of four persons who had either successful international or regional careers, as to allow the young players to understand the kind of sacrifice it takes to play the sport at a high level.

Sir Andy, who is considered the father of modern West Indian fast bowling, took 287 international wickets, and the 71-year-old was vehement that “it is hard work being a fast-bowler. It is the hardest job.”

A section of the gathering keenly listening to the former international cricketers (Photo: News Room/April 23, 2022/Avidesh Narine)

The Antiguan exclaimed that while a lot of attention is placed on having strong shoulders, it is important to develop a “firm core” to prolong longevity and consistency in the art. He also emphasised the need for players to read about the game and constantly ask questions.

Haynes, the Barbadian blaster at the top of the order, made a bold remark: “I always knew I would have played for West Indies”, and he said it in the context that he knew the only that was possible was if he worked hard and believed in his talent.

Jimmy Adams offered immense advice to the players, coaches and their families (Photo: News Room/April 23, 2022/Avidesh Narine)

Retiring with averages over 41 in both Tests and One-Day Internationals, Haynes indicated that he didn’t have the best of starts as a youngster and it only goes to show it is more about will and determination rather than the start one has to his/her career.

From a technical standpoint, the now Cricket West Indies Lead Selector felt it was important for players to understand their strengths and weakness early and do continuous work to develop efficiency.

It is a similar train of thought Adams, the now CWI Director of Cricket, imparted in one of the youngsters, Adrian Hetmyer, nephew of Shimron Hetmyer.

The former West Indies captain was questioned on what he did to score Test centuries – six of them – and bat for long hours.

The answer? It starts with repetition and training in nets.

“You can’t bat for two hours in a match by training for two hours, you have to put in more work,” the Jamaican underscored.

According to the left-hander, it was important for players to practice long hours outside of the club or national team net sessions. He revealed that he saved money and bought balls, and even paid guys to bowl at him so he can bat for three to four hours before or after the structured practice sessions.

Additionally, Adams underscored that the onus is on players and their coaches to craft a plan for success. He also said parents are equally important in the support factor, especially as regards nutrition since maintaining a high fitness level is linked to what players eat.

Meanwhile, Butcher secured his place in history when he became the first black player to represent England, making his Test debut at Bridgetown in 1981. He went on to play three Tests and three ODIs, but has a wealth of First-Class and List A experience.

In November 2004 he was appointed Director of Sports at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus in Barbados, and for this reason, he spoke on the importance of fusing cricket and academics.

With the harsh reality that not every player will either play international cricket or have a prolonged run, it is important to plot life after the sport.

One consensus across the learned group of men is fitness is equally important as talent and all players should strive to excel in both areas to allow them the best chance to consistently perform at high levels in pressure situations.

The visit by the quartet wraps up on Sunday with the BCB annual awards ceremony.

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