West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) director of cricket Richard Pybus says that professionalising the game and playing more cricket at the regional level is the first step in catching up to the leading cricketing nations in the world.
Pybus, speaking to the media during a WICB press conference at Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain yesterday, said that a more professional setup in the West Indies in terms of the territorial teams, will help the regional side to be on a level playing field with their opponents.
He said there were talented players around the region but the regional board had fallen short in developing that talent for the international arena.
He said that his initial concern when he took up the post of director of cricket late last year was the kind of depth that existed in regional first-class cricket.
However, having seen for himself, he said yesterday, “the depth in first-class cricket in the fast bowling and spin bowling departments is exceptional but what I will say is that where we need to improve is how we are managing and developing our talent,” he added.
He stated: “We need to professionalise the game properly.”
Asked about what a more professional set up would entail, the former Pakistan and Bangladesh coach said: “We want to have core groups of players regionally (outside of the West Indies team) who will be afforded the opportunity to be fully professional cricketers. We want to have professional setups like there are overseas in county cricket, state cricket and franchise cricket.
“We want to have professional setups where we have full-time staff who are supporting full time players and that is the ultimate goal. And all that is going to allow us to do over the next three years is to actually get the West Indies on a level playing field with the top sides in the world,” Pybus explained.
“That is not going to make us the best side in the world. If we were running a race it will be like us catching up to the top sides in the world. That is a key priority for us, to actually get to the starting line so we can run an equal race,” he added.
The director of cricket added that regional players need to play more games and that there must be a clear pathway to move from regional to international cricket.
“We want to have a clear avenue for players who are playing first-class cricket to go on to play international cricket,” said Pybus.
“First-class cricket is not the finishing school for international cricket. Our players need to be learning and growing their game so by the time they get to the international setup, they will be up to the fitness standard, the skill set and they understand what being professional is.
“In the past, the great players from the region would play the domestic season and then go over to the UK (the United Kingdom) and play for the county teams as overseas professionals, so they had six months of cricket.
“So the better players in the region would have a season which was nine to ten months long. As we stand now, the current season is three months long and then we have the shorter formats,” he said.
“We need enough volume of games. The Super50 was very exciting but in reality we need more games to give players more opportunities to put the numbers together in terms of volume of runs and volume of wickets taken so they can put pressure on the incumbents in the regional setup and put the selectors under pressure. That is a huge priority for us,” Pybus added.
WICB president Dave Cameron noted that the increased revenue the Board is expecting from the International Cricket Council over the next eight years could be put towards the development of the game in the region and possibly extending the first-class season.