David Williams, the former national wicketkeeper who was replaced last week as assistant coach of the West Indies team could soon return to technical staff of the Trinidad and Tobago side. This possibility was raised on Saturday by Baldath Mahabir, an executive member of the T&T Cricket Board (T&TCB) who along with Dr Allen Sammy are the two local representatives on the Board of Directors of the WICB. Mahabir was speaking at the official launch of the 2012 Digicel Grassroot Coaching Programme in the auditorium of the Larry Gomes Stadium at Malabar, Arima on Saturday. The launch was attended by Wendy Alleyne, Digicel’s Sponsorship and Promotions manager, Richard Baboolal representing the Ministry of Sport, T&TCB treasurer Sukesh Maniam, Grassroot Programme Co-ordinator Kumar Rampat, scores of participants, officials, coaches as well as parents and guardians.
“We see that David Williams is no longer with the West Indies team. He will be approached by the T&TCB to assist as he has done in the past as long as he is available,” said Mahabir. He said Williams has much to offer and his knowledge and experience will be invaluable to the national team. The WICB on Thursday announced that Williams, the diminutive West Indies wicketkeeper and T&T selector has been replaced by Toby Radford as second in command of the WI team. Radford is the former head coach of the Sagicor High Performance Centre in Barbados who has been appointed on a tour by tour basis. Williams, 48, was associated with the WI team for the past four and a half years as assistant coach and during this time, his namesake Kelvin Williams has been in charge of the Red Force which has stamped itself as the undisputed T20 regional champions and are now seriously challenging for the Four-Day Tournament honours.
Last October, Williams was named as a replacement for Rangy Nanan on the National Selection Panel and also accompanied the national team to the 2011 Nokia Champions League T20 in India and the Caribbean T20 Championships last January with T&T won for the second consecutive year. His contribution to the national team performance has also been commended by president of the T&TCB Azim Bassarath who has stated that Williams possesses a wealth of knowledge of the local game and its players. On Saturday Mahabir stated that the WICB has been receiving negative reviews of late and sought to enumerate what he described as some of the major successes that have been enjoyed by the WICB in the recent past. Mahabir pointed to the Grassroot Programme which he said was well-organised and praised sponsors Digicel and the WICB for working together to make the association a “bigger, better network” for the budding cricketers.
He said “Brand T&T” was in a good place having benefitted tremendously from programmes initiated by the WICB like the Digicel Grassroot and the Kiddy Cricket Programme, sponsored by Scotiabank. Mahabir said the WICB are continuing to place great emphasis on development and towards this end have instituted regional competitions for the Under-15s, Under-17s and Under-19s. In recognition of the important roles that clubs play in cricket development across the board, the WICB has also been disbursing grants of US$5,000 to assist in the provision of gear, training and to cover other expenses.
Mahabir also drew a link between cricket and educational pursuits pointing to the Sagicor High Performance Centre and the University of the West Indies whose input into the regional game cannot be underestimated. “Cricket alone will not suffice. We have seen former national captain Daren Ganga recently graduating with a law degree while his brother Sherwin also has also qualified at that level. Samuel Badree is also a Physical Education teacher in the school system,” said Mahabir.
He also said the WICB has ramped up its emphasis on training providing new opportunities for coaches, umpires and match referees. A WICB workshop was recently held for video-analysts in Barbados which will soon enable cricketers to receive copies of their batting innings or bowling performances via e-mail just after a day’s play has been completed. “Coaching is moving away from the stereotype,” Mahabir said while revealing that a pitch conditions workshop was also held in Guyana while events management interns are also being encouraged to get involved to ensure that the WICB can stage their events in a professional manner which is up to international standards. Mahabir also urged coaches to attach a distinctive name to their centres in the Digicel Grassroot Programme as it would lead to the programme becoming established and would serve as a legacy for future generations. He also said its success would become a source of great pride to the community it served.