Transcript of Dr. Hilaire interview on Line & Length

Gros Islet, St Lucia– WICB CEO Dr. Ernest Hilaire was interviewed on the Line & Length Network today during the Second Digicel ODI between West Indies and Pakistan at the Beausejour Cricket Grounds.

Following are excerpts from the interview.

On if the current group of young players are not excelling at a fast enough pace:

I don’t know that we can say that they are not excelling at the pace we want them to. You will recall last year that we had every senior player playing and we lost 5-0 to South Africa and even lost the T20 match.

The reality is we are targeting 2015 when we believe we should have a side which can compete to be world champions. We are very clear in our minds that for the next two years we want to broaden the pool of players who have experience at the international level and for the last two years (2014-2015) which we can draw upon for that championship side. It is going to take time, it is going to be frustrating at times.

We’ve already said we have a clear idea of what the pool of players are around which we will build that championship side. So it is now a question of playing the other players who will come in and support the core who we will move forward with.

On WICB taking unconventional decisions in moving West Indies cricket forward:

We stated clearly last year that we were at the bottom, we’ve been doing things a particular way for the last 15 years, it has not brought us success. We must do it differently. We must be brave, we must be bold, we must be daring and we must be prepared to make fundamental changes and face the criticisms that will come from making those decisions.

You want to have individuals who have the right attitude and disposition to training, to team meetings, to building that togetherness and cohesiveness. You don’t want somebody who goes out there to play and their first concern is to score 45 because that is the average they want to keep.

You want individuals who are told this is the game plan for the team, this is where we’re going, this is what we need of you, between certain stages of the game this is what we expect of you to do. You want a ‘team’, you want guys who will be prepared to sacrifice average, if necessary, for the team.

On the need for discipline and commitment to fitness and preparation:

If you look at West Indies cricket since the mid 90s a lot of the systems we had in place broke down. Coaches Malcolm Marshall, Andy Roberts, the two Australian coaches have all lamented that we’ve not had the right systems for West Indies cricket. There’s no discipline, there’s no application. We’ve been doing that for 15 years and we’ve been losing.

When are we going to stop and say it’s not working? We need to put a new system in place.

When a new player comes into the team, they come into a very structured environment, they know what’s expected of them, the team has rules, the team has clearly defined procedures as to how you behave as a professional and what you’re expected to do. And no one man is bigger than the team, no one man is such a super star he can decide if he is training today, if he’s going to have treatment tomorrow, if he’s going to attend a team meeting. It cannot work that way.

If we are going to take a journey to 2015 we have to be able to say these are the rules that are going to guide us as we proceed to that destination. We want players that are willing and committed to that game plan for 2015. And no matter how big you are, no matter how much of a super star you think you are if you do not fit into a team set up there will always be challenges for you. So (the WICB) does not tell the selectors who to pick, we’ve said to the selectors that we want a team, we don’t want the whole team to surround one or two super stars so that if the super stars fail then everything collapses. We depend on two or three people to excel for us to win and if they don’t excel we lose. We don’t want that.

We want a winning formula that incorporates multiple contributions and guys with the right attitude and the right commitment. At the end of the day if West Indian people have confidence we are taking cricket in a different direction I think we will get their support. One thing I know for sure we cannot do things the same way as we’ve done for the last 15 years, it has not brought us success.

On responding to comments made by Chris Gayle:

I’m not going to respond. There’s a very simple reason. We can dispel all that Chris said by releasing the letters and emails. But we should not do that. You communicate with a player, you ask for his opinions, you ask for him to account on certain statements he made, you ask him what’s his position on certain things and you expect to be treated with a certain degree of confidence.

You expect when the coach pulls a player aside and speaks to him there is a certain level of respect for that conversation.

And against that background I’m not going to try to prove Chris Gayle wrong. What’s more important is to state that we’re very disappointed in the way in Chris has decided to respond. I think he is being ill-advised. We’ve worked exceedingly hard to reach out to Chris – numerous attempts – letters, phone calls, emails. He is being advised and he will act in the way in which he sees best.

If there is a problem with us stressing fitness I make no apologies for it. We need to have fitness as a priority in the team. If there are rules being put in place now as to what we expect of players, the kind of disposition and somebody does not like it I’m very sorry, it has to be established that this is how we’re going to move forward.

On why the WICB issued the No Objection Certificate to Gayle:

Last October when three of the players did not sign the retainer contracts we wrote to the players and said ‘tell us what the issues are so we can address it moving forward’.

We had some exchanges, a couple of constructive ones, one not very constructive but we decided we were going to continue to engage the players. We did not want a situation where we pick the players to play for West Indies and they miss out on IPL, they are then bitter, disappointed, they wish they were at IPL. We would not benefit, they would not benefit.

We’ve stated – it is not that we do not want the players to earn a living. We want them to earn a living but we also want them to honour their commitment to West Indies cricket. So we spoke to (Kieron) Pollard, (Dwayne) Bravo and Chris (Gayle).

Two of the players were very cooperative, very supportive, that they can work out an arrangement with us where they can meet their commitments to West Indies cricket as far as the selectors would want them to but also get a chance to play in the IPL.

It did not exactly work out with Chris but when the point came and he said he was not available for selection we did give him to NOC because it is not about revenge, it is not about denying him the opportunity.

In fact we said to Chris repeatedly that as far as we are concerned you’re injured, you’re doing a rehabilitative programme (ten physiotherapy sessions in Jamaica), when you’re finished we want you tested and if you’re available we’ll pick you to play for West Indies. If you don’t want to play we have no difficulty in giving you the NOC once you say you’re not available for selection and he said he was not available for selection and we gave him the NOC.

We have no desire to deny Chris Gayle an opportunity to earn a living or make money. Our primary responsibility is to protect the best interest of West Indies cricket and at the same time ensuring that the player can meet his own aspirations and satisfy his own goals and we will work with the players to do so.