LONDON — Three months after he announced his resignation as West Indies head coach, Stuart Law has been reflecting on his tenure at the regional side, pointing to the Windies’ first Test victory over England in 17 years as the highlight of his tenure.
Law’s last series in charge was the tour of India last month when West Indies lost the Test, ODI and T20 series.
“Not just winning it, but getting the boys back up into a mental space after the first Test where we got absolutely walloped, and then to come out and outplay England in all facets was an amazing achievement,” Law said of the team’s five-wicket win over England in the second Test at Leeds last year.
“I didn’t have to do a hell of a lot. The boys were hurt, and I just highlight certain things that were being said back home, and by certain people in the media in England… I said, ‘these people don’t think you’re good enough.
“You’ve just got to go out there and prove you are. I believe you are. Everyone in this room thinks you are good enough. So get out there and show them.'”
West Indies were hammered in the first Test at Birmingham by an innings and 209 runs but then chased down 322 on the final day to pull off an astonishing victory in the second Test.
Law succeeded Phil Simmons as head coach two years ago after the former was sacked by West Indies administrators over “differences in culture and strategic approach”.
Simmons led the team to victory in the ICC T20 World Cup in India in 2016, and prior to that, he played a key role in Ireland’s rise as a non-Test playing nation. However clashes with Windies bosses over the selection, as well as his views challenging the Board, resulted in his demise after 18 months on the job.
In an interview with Cricbuzz, Law noted that one of his challenges was effecting a cultural change within the team.
“It was quite evident that there was a cultural change that needed to take place. The hardest thing to change is culture,” the Australian pointed out.
“In my first couple of months in charge, you could realise that the players aren’t fit. Niggling injuries were preventing players from performing at their very best on the ground. Our work ethic probably wasn’t where we needed it to be. That was the first change: to try and get the mindset around that.”
Law said he prioritised discipline and stressed the importance of communication.
“From the onset I said, I want to see us as a family, and in a family, if someone’s not doing what he should be doing, they should get told,” he explained.
“An open, honest conversation is not to hurt, it’s to help you get better. That’s the first thing I tried to instil – the family aspect to it. From there, it was just installing a little bit of discipline here and there. I didn’t want to go in and change ten things in the first week, but one thing in ten weeks.
“Then add another thing. And then all of a sudden, one thing leads to three, and another in the next week.”
He continued: “For me, it was to find something that’s working. The first step was to try to get the boys fitter and stronger; to cope with the amount of cricket that they’re playing; then try and install that underneath the (international) level, so when they come up to us, they’re already fit and strong, so that they’re not doing their fitness and strength work on the road while playing cricket.”
Law acknowledged that the foundation in the Caribbean needed to be laid at the junior level, however, some schools have stopped their cricket programmes as they prioritise education over sports.
Nevertheless, he remained hopeful.
“If they can still instil the love of it back in the juniors and the young kids, it would help. There has to be a system in place,” he said.
“It would be nice to get an academy up and running, whichever island it’s on. An academy where young players of note can come and do a three-month program for fitness and strength, first and foremost, rather than cricket skill.
“They’ve all got cricket skill; they’re natural athletes. But to get the functional strength and anaerobic capacity is what made the great West Indian team stand out from the rest. They were fitter than everyone else. Now the rest of the world has caught up and gone past. Now everyone knows that if you’re not fit, you’re not going to play.”
At the time of his appointment, Law was given the mandate to improve the results of the West Indies, but he endured a difficult period with the team.
He won only six of his Tests in charge and picked up series wins against minnows Zimbabwe and Bangladesh in the six tours he has overseen.
Law will take up the new post of head coach at Middlesex CCC in the New Year.