ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Former Antigua and Leeward Islands cricket captain, Wilden “Polo” Cornwall, believes cricket within the sub-region needs to be rebuilt and that the injection of new blood into the squad is one way of putting the game back on track.
Cornwall’s statement comes following the team’s innings and 10-run defeat at the hands of Guyana Jaguars in the WICB Regional 4-Day competition within three days on Sunday.
The former batsman, who has applied for the Leeward’s coaching job, said should he be given the role, he would seek to “make changes.”
“You got to get some licks and you have to rebuild Leeward Islands cricket and that’s my way to go. Other players might feel hard done because of the changes, but changes have to be made. We cannot sit back and continue getting licks with the same set of players over and over. It’s not that I am going to go in there and throw away everybody,” Cornwall said.
“Secondly, I would make sure that Leeward Islands cricket, from the grassroots level, is structured properly because we need players to come through,” he added.
The player, who made 1959 First Class runs and bagged 106 wickets, added that the newly revived Leeward Islands tournaments must also be revisited.
“We have just finished a tournament which, for me, wasn’t satisfactory enough when preparing for a tournament of this magnitude. I think that, not making any excuses and it’s good to see Leeward Islands tournament has come back, they probably need to revisit it and not just to play a few games, but to get good benefit out of the players because going up against Guyana who have obviously prepared for the tournament, the results speaks for itself,” he said.
The time has come, Cornwall said, for individual countries to place emphasis on the development of players before putting all of their energies into Leeward and West Indies cricket, both of which will benefit in the long run.
“Personally, if I was coaching Antigua team, winning should not be my first priority right now, but to get players to understand Leeward and West Indies; this is what I am here preparing you for, for these two events because when you win Leeward Islands tournament, you don’t even get a trophy, you don’t get anything so to me, winning is out the window right now. We have got to move on and we have got to go past that and look at the bigger picture,” the former player said.
Leewards will now travel to St Kitts where they will take on Trinidad & Tobago Red Force in their next match while Guyana will take on the Windward Islands Volcanoes.