PORT-OF-SPAIN: Former manager of the West Indies cricket team Omar Khan says that the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) Professional Cricket League (PCL) is starting to pay dividends.
Khan made his comments after assessing the performances of the West Indies Test cricket over the past two series against Pakistan. The West Indies within the last seven months have played two Test series against Pakistan and although they lost both 1-2, Khan has seen a lot of positives. “The West Indies Test team has now become a team that competes and this is what the fans in the Caribbean want to see. They are knowledgeable and they don’t expect to see the team become world beaters overnight. However, what they are seeing now is a team that is ready to fight, competing well in Test matches and even winning some.”
The West Indies narrowly missed out winning the first Test of the UAE series at Dubai, before losing in Abu Dhabi and rebounding with a fantastic victory at Sharjah. Pakistan then visited the West Indies recently and after losing the first Test in Jamaica, the West Indies were brilliant in winning the second Test at Bridgetown in Barbados. They then lost the final Test in Dominica with just one over to go.
Khan attributes the improvement in part to the advent of the PCL :”The Professional Cricket League has worked well in my view. It has given the cricketers the opportunity to play more cricket and anytime they play more cricket we will see an improvement. It gives them more chances to be in match situations and this only leads to a better cricketer.
“If you look at Roston Chase, he was brilliant against Pakistan in the last series because he came into it well prepared. He was playing in the PCL for the Barbados Pride and this constant play would have assisted him in taking his game to the next step. He was not playing the shorter forms of the game. All he had to rely on was the PCL matches and he used it wonderfully well to prepare.”
The PCL, a brainchild of the president of the WICB, Dave Cameron has completed three seasons and a number of regional players are now retained by their franchises, which are funded by the WICB.
Khan thinks that the retainers bring a level of comfort to the players :”With the regional players being retained, they can now focus on their cricket, as opposed to having their daily jobs and not getting time off to play the game. They are now assured of a salary and can now go into the game fully as professionals. In this way they can practice more, play more and ultimately improve their cricket.”
Khan ended by saying that he would like the see an improvement in terms of the assessment of the players under retainers. “We need to have a better system in place to keep track of the players in terms of their commitments under the retainers, to ensure that they do what is expected of them.”