Developing a robust high-performance programme for the region’s emerging talent has been a critical area of focus for the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), now Cricket West Indies (CWI). This was evidenced by the establishment of the West Indies High Performance Centre (WIHPC), a cricket academy and training centre based at the 3Ws Oval, Cave Hill Campus, University of the West Indies (UWI) in Barbados. The centre was sponsored by the Sagicor Financial Corporation and officially opened in June 2010.
This tri-partite collaboration among the WICB, UWI and Sagicor led to the establishment of the Sagicor WIHPC, which has played an integral role in the development of several current West Indies players, including Test captain and world number one ranked all-rounder Jason Holder, Kraigg Brathwaite, Jermaine Blackwood, Rajindra Chandrika, Shai Hope, Shane Dowrich, Carlos Brathwaite, Shannon Gabriel and Sheldon Cottrell, to name a few.
The Sagicor WIHPC, in its format as a residential high-performance programme for cohorts of emerging players, was abandoned in 2015, following a review of its structure and programme by then director of cricket Richard Pybus. The decision was taken to invest in a “sustainable professional cricket system in the region,” thereby placing the responsibility of developing talent on the respective regional territorial boards. Although the franchise system has achieved some of the intended goals, there are clear challenges, from a high-performance standpoint, in identifying the necessary human and financial resources to implement a sustainable performance-enhancing programme for current and emerging players.
Cricket West Indies promotes core values and ethical standards of respect, passion, accountability, integrity and team excellence. These values are considered to be essential to the construction of a high-performance model. They drive the culture that underscores the development of our talent from performance to podium. The concept of a “winning culture” can only be achieved when there is a system that nurtures it.
Developing a high-performance system allows for the expansion of high-performance programmes to every cricket playing nation in the Caribbean. But what is high performance and do we truly understand how to build a high performing system?
Any sustainable high-performance system must be hinged on four key pillars:
1) Technique development
2) ↓Scientific and medical support
3) World-class coaching
4) Athlete health and well being
These are the areas that will guide the system and the pursuit of excellence at all levels to see the return of the West Indies to top rankings in world cricket.
Such a system provides the necessary framework that can be integrated into all high-performance programmes at the franchise level. The system described must also be expanded to the schools—primary, secondary and tertiary—in order to create an effective ecosystem at all levels. The system ensures sustainability and holistic talent development, while building scientific, technical and coaching capacity to an international standard irrespective of an athlete’s home island.
The development of the Coolidge Cricket Ground (CCG) at the CWI headquarters in Antigua will require significant financial resources. Nonetheless, CWI must move forward with the implementation of a high-performance system that supports talent development in relation to skillset and mindset and the next cadre of leaders across the region.
Amanda Reifer is head at the Cave Hill Academy of Sport and can be reached at Amanda.firstname.lastname@example.org