ST. JOHN’S, Antigua – A significant shift has been made to the delivery of the West Indies Cricket Board’s High Performance Programme.
The fine work which the West Indies High Performance Centre – located on the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies in Barbados – and formerly sponsored by regional financial services giant Sagicor – had performed has been widely acknowledged.
The High Performance Programme, administered through the WIHPC, played a crucial role in developing the emerging generation of current West Indies players including new Test captain Jason Holder, opener Kraigg Brathwaite, fellow batsmen Jermaine Blackwood, Rajindra Chandrika, Shai Hope, wicketkeeper/batsman Shane Dowrich, all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite, fast bowler Shannon Gabriel and left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican.
The HPC however, no longer operates under its previous format of registering a cohort of emerging players for a residential programme and working on a year-round basis, following a review of its structure and programme by Director of Cricket Richard Pybus.
With the establishment of six WICB Professional Cricket League franchises, the HPC is now dedicated to providing the finishing touches to elite players that emerge from regional competitions.
“We need to differentiate between the High Performance Centre and High Performance Programme,” said Pybus. “The staff is still based in Barbados, but we no longer have a cohort because we are now looking to the franchises to develop the talent.
“The financial investment is into the establishment of a sustainable professional cricket system in the region, not only as a standalone professional product in the sporting marketplace, but also with the specific goal to produce players for the West Indies.
“It is now the responsibility of the territorial boards in their development programmes and the franchises with first-class cricket to ensure the player pipeline to West Indies teams is well-stocked with international standard players.”
Pybus added however, there are two key steps in the player pathway that he would like to see addressed – the establishment of a second-tier, franchise tournament and a regional academy.
“The tournament will serve a number of playing and development purposes, expanding and accelerating the work the WICB is currently doing of preparing players for the highest levels of the game,” he said.
“The academy would bring in the best elite emerging players to the HPC for three months in the off-season and they be groomed for international cricket.
“Right now, we are seeking sponsorship to operate both programmes in a meaningful way.”
For now, Pybus said, there were greater playing opportunities than previously for elite players in the Caribbean, and the focus was using those tournaments to identify the best players and refine their skills under the new HPP.
“There is now an expanded Regional 4-Day Tournament, we will have an expanded NAGICO Super50 and there is also the Caribbean Premier League,” he said.
To further achieve the vision of becoming No.1 in the game in all formats in the foreseeable future, the Directors of the WICB recently signed off on a HPP Manual to be distributed widely to the territorial boards.
“The HPP now has three key steps: identification, development and management of those players,” said Pybus.
“The document being circulated highlights these three keys, and can be used as a reference guide for best-practice preparation for players to achieve their peak performance and the ultimate goal of making the West Indies team.
“The WICB understands that it’s important that we strive to be a World-leader in the all-round development of our elite players, so research, innovation and consistency with evidence-based practice must be essential to our philosophy and approach going forward.”
The HPP Manual is designed to provide insight into the preparation and management of players within WICB Elite Cricket Programmes from Under-15 right up to teams at senior levels.
It uses the concept of “gears” to illustrate the importance of integrating, identifying and sequencing different factors to produce optimal performance.
“Within the model is the implication that it is necessary to consider all of the various factors that can impact a player’s performance,” said Pybus.
“In an effort to achieve optimal training and performance, each factor needs to be addressed. The WICB HP training model sets the stage for periodization of training. The model ensures that all factors that can influence performance are integrated into an integrated performance plan.”
The methodology identifies, integrates, and sequences nine unique training disciplines:
1. Physical Conditioning
2. Sport Medicine Support
3. Mental Conditioning
5. Technical Cricket Skills
7. Vision Training
8. Life Skills
Pybus said all activities of the HPP focus on optimal short, medium and long-term athletic preparation. He noted that this training methodology focusses on the process (training and performing to one’s actual best capacity) rather than on the outcome (winning).
“Our methodology is athlete-centered and coach-driven, ensuring that athletic training is both cricket-specific and tailored to individual needs,” he said.
“Players will undergo regular evaluations of all aspects of their high-performance training and development.”