Kenneth Benjamin: Fix territorial and grassroots cricket and senior team will improve

Former West Indies fast bowler, Kenneth Benjamin (kneeling) is surrounded by a number of the region’s top under-19 cricketers as they prepared for the Under-19 World Cup in 2019. Also pictured are left to right: Joshua James, Nyeem Young, Jayden Seales, Matthew Forde and Ramon Simmonds. (CWI photo)
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By Neto Baptiste

Former West Indies and Leeward Islands fast bowler, Kenneth Benjamin, believes there must be improvements at the territorial level before the region could, once again, become a dominant force in world cricket.

Speaking on the heels of the senior men’s team dismal performance in New Zealand, Benjamin suggests that the issue cannot be fixed at the very top, but must start from the base.

“Has Leeward Islands cricket improved over the last 15 years? Has Guyana’s cricket improved over the last 15 years? Has Windward or Jamaica? That is where we need to really and truly look at. We need to look and see where these players are coming from because that is the problem. Where are they coming from and what is the pathway going through?

“Talent for talent, West Indies can match any team but talent is only 5 percent. Talent is something that can only suggest where you can go, but the skillset in terms of concentration, decision making and so on, that is where we’re lacking and those are mental skills,” he said. 

Benjamin, who claimed 26 wickets in 92 Tests, although agreeing with fellow Antiguan and former West Indies teammate Winston Benjamin that fresh ideas are needed in order to move forward, he suggested that those selected by Winston could better serve at the development level.

“If I am going to use Desmond Haynes, then it can’t be at the top because I don’t think he can save those guys. Those guys right now are like the runway behind of you, it can’t save you so only the runway ahead of you can save you so if we are going to bring in those people that Winston is talking about and I have no problem with the names he is calling, we have to get them into the development area so that by the time they get to international cricket they would have been transformed or the skills that Desmond Haynes is passing on would have been embedded already,” the former player said. 

Winston had suggested a clear slate in terms of the coaching staff, suggesting that individuals like former opener Desmond Haynes should be given an opportunity improve the team’s play at the senior level.

Benjamin, however, suggests that it would take much more than getting someone to coach players already set in their ways but that all factors must be considered.

“We do not have to re-invent the wheel because there are teams out there that have structures in place and there is help out there that we can get but people are very strong headed and we all think we have the answers and that is one of the biggest hindrances in West Indies cricket,” he said.

West Indies lost the second Test against New Zealand by an innings and 12 runs at Wellington after going down by an innings and 134 runs in the first Test.

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