WICB Not Doing Canada Any Favours
by JACK LAING
As we all know, Gus Logie has been appointed to coach Canada at the upcoming World Cup, replacing long standing and successful national coach Jeff Thomas, for reasons that still remain obscure. It is understood however that the WICB offered the Canadian Cricket Association Logie's services free of charge, with the WICB covering Logie's salary. On the face of it, the WICB's generous offer might be construed as doing their part to aid cricket development in the Americas. A closer examination of Gus Logie's schedule reveals perhaps a clearer view of their motives.
First it should be made clear that Logie is an experienced and talented coach, who has played the game at the highest level. He has been in the employ of the WICB since 1995, and has coached at all levels of representative cricket up to the West Indies 'A' team tour of 2002. The WICB announced last week that Gus Logie has been assigned to "assist in the preparation of the West Indies women's team for the upcoming visit of Sri Lanka to the West Indies from March 8 to 24. He will also help in 'fine tuning' the team for its participation in the International Women's Cricket Council Trophy in Holland from July 19 to 28". The initial part of this assignment is under way, as Gus attends a four-day training camp in Trinidad from 3-7 January.
It's not clear at this point as to whether he plans to return to the West Indies to assist during the Sri Lanka tour. One sincerely hopes not, as Canada play Bangladesh in their final scheduled World Cup match on March 3rd. Although it would be wildly optimistic to expect Canada to advance beyond this, it would at least be a sign of good faith from the coach not to book his flight home before the tournament even begins. It is unlikely however that Logie will come home directly as clearly the WICB see Logie's coaching job in Canada as part of a training programme directed to their own ends. Logie can be expected to hang around and gain whatever additional experience can be gained at the World Cup, whilst the Canadian players will be flying home.
The extent of Gus' involvement with the Canadian cricket team is thus a total of 8 weeks. With no A or under 19 tours underway, he was at a loose end, and so the WICB were looking for ways to keep him busy - with the West Indies women's team, and with Canada. By March 8 he'll be able to add "coached Canada at the 2003 World Cup" to his already impressive resumé and he'll be even better placed to succeed the incumbent as coach to the national team, especially if the West Indies do not qualify for the second round of the World Cup. He was already on salary with the WICB, and one assumes that the ICC/CCA will cover expenses in the course of his time with the Canadian team. Thus the WICB are simply using the Canadian coaching job as a means of filing in time, and gaining experience for their favoured successor to the top coaching job in the organization.
In other circumstances this might be of mutual benefit to both the WICB and the CCA. If the Canadian squad had no coach, or had been performing poorly under the incumbent, a man of Logie's experience would be a great asset. If he'd been assigned to the job for a significant period of time- say a year - covering the Namibia tournament, the WI-A tour and the Red Stripe, Canadian cricket would surely have benefited (although the replacement of a successful coach after taking Canada to the World Cup would still be baffling).
The facts are however, that Logie's placement has been at the expense of a man who has been deeply involved with Canadian cricket for years. In the coverage of what most view as a scandal, much has been made of Thomas' role as coach in Canada's World Cup qualification at the ICC Trophy. His involvement with Canadian cricket goes much deeper than that however. He's coached in Toronto since 1995, and he took the under 19 squad through qualification to the under-19 World Cup in New Zealand. Following the ICCT he coached the national team to a historic series victory over West Indies A (coached by of course Gus Logie), as well as Canada' first victories in the Red Stripe Bowl. In addition he's been with the national team on the 2001 Sri Lanka tour, two previous Red Stripe campaigns, the 6-nations challenge in Namibia, and the last Americas Cup. Gus Logie could be the best coach in the world, but there is no way in the world that he will know the Canadian players, their strengths and weaknesses, and the type of coaching they need as well as Thomas.
The most puzzling aspect of this whole affair is the role of the Canadian Cricket Association. If offered the services of Logie, at a loose end for a couple of months,- surely the most logical response would have been to have welcomed the offer, and to ask Jeff Thomas if he'd be willing to work with Logie. Logie would make a superb assistant at the World Cup, Canadian team unity would be preserved, Jeff Thomas would have been treated with the respect due to him and Gus Logie would have the World Cup experience the WICB seem to think is important to him. Instead of which it has chosen to sack a competent, successful coach, and totally disrupt team preparation and morale. Whether the CCA administration were looking for an opportunity to sack Thomas for non-cricketing reasons, or are bending over backwards to help the WICB find something for Gus Logie to do in between coaching the national women's squad and taking over from Roger Harper is a matter for speculation.
Far from assisting the development of cricket in Canada, the WICB intentionally or not has contributed to the effective torpedoing of Canadian World Cup hopes. It would be far-fetched perhaps to speculate that after the A team loss to Canada, they wanted to ensure that they won at least one match at the World Cup. More realistically the WICB probably thought they were being helpful - with no appreciation or understanding of Canadian cricket, and the hidden agenda of its administration. A sorry tale indeed.