President of Leeward Islands Cricket Association (LICA), Gregory Shillingford, has described the acquiring of former West Indies all-rounder, Eldine Baptiste, as an attempt to both elevate the performance of the team and motivate those players who have not been turning out top-notch individual performances.
Gregory admitted that cricket within the sub-region has not been at its best, and said that although they were happy to have the services of former coach Stuart Williams, LICA thought it was time for a fresh prospective.
“Our performance and results had not been commendable and the team was described by commentators covering matches as not bringing anything to the table,” he said.
“We were thankful that we could have had former coach Stuart Williams be with us, but we felt that we needed to reserve the option of trying to get somebody else motivate the team to (produce better) performance and results, and we were mindful that Eldine Baptiste was the coach who trained and coached the Stanford Superstars to that richest prize money in T20 cricket.
“We were also mindful that Eldine Baptiste was also coach of the Dolphins in South Africa who he led to the South African championships for many years,” Shillingford added.
Asked for specifics where it pertains to the contract entered into with the Antiguan, Shillingford revealed that such is yet to be finalised, making it difficult for him to reveal the projected length of Baptiste’s stint with the Leewards.
“He is with us, in the first instance, for the regional four-day and 50 overs tournaments, and as you know he has a job in South Africa and he would have to make arrangements if he has to terminate his existing contract and so we have not gone beyond that discussion,” Shillingford said.
Admitting that finances have been an issue for LICA, the president assured that the association is not over-extending itself in terms of the new coach’s salary.
“Eldine is a patriot. He is a son of the soil in Antigua. He knows where his foundation originated and he is prepared to come back and make a contribution. So he has accepted what we can pay. We have accepted that we need to produce and provide him with the means to train the team and change the culture of the team, and we have reached an accord,” he said.
The Leeward Islands lost their opening match in the WICB Super50 tournament to Guyana on Thursday at Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Grounds.
They will play a four-day contest against the same opponents starting today at the same venue.