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Road trip

West Indies players (from left) Devon Thomas, Darren Bravo, Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard and Sunil Narine doing stretching exercises this morning.

West Indies players (from left) Devon Thomas, Darren Bravo, Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard and Sunil Narine doing stretching exercises this morning.

West Indies have arrived in Miami for a three-day team-building process being dubbed One Team, One Goal.

The group of players and support staff will be in south Florida before leaving for India for the hurriedly arranged two-Tests series to be played at Eden Gardens, Kolkata and Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai respectively. The matches have been arranged by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) mainly to

West Indies coach Ottis Gibson (left) giving some pointers to Kemar Roach during a net session in Miami.

afford the legendary Sachin Tendulkar to end his illustrious career before his doting fans on home soil. The tour runs from October 31 to November 27 and includes a List A match against Uttar Pradesh in Cuttack, the Tests and three One-Day Internationals in Kochi, Visakhapatnam and Baroda-Kanpur.

While in Miami the West Indies are having their team-building sessions as well as having net practice at a local facility. The team-building programme is being conducted by sports psychologist Dr Scott Hamilton. They are also meeting with West Indians living in the Miami Dade area and will get to watch the defending NBA champions Miami Heat play a pre-season game at the American Airlines Arena. But some have suggested the West Indies’ cause would have been better served travelling early to India and getting in more match practice before the start of the series.

Team manager Richie Richardson said he was delighted to see fans at the team’s

training session in Orlando and was looking ahead to meeting many more in Miami.

“It was a very good opportunity for us to reach out to the community. A lot of people came out to meet the team and it was also very good to see so many young people, who we hope will become even more interested in the sport here,” said the former West Indies batting star.

“We realise the importance of sharing the moment with the fans, taking some pictures, giving them some advice, so it’s all a part of what we do. We are naturally ambassadors and it’s our responsibility to give back.”

The West Indies team practised over the past two days at the Poinciana Community Complex before a large crowd of Caribbean immigrants, including Barbadian host and president of the Central Florida Cricket Association, Barney Jones. He said the presence of the team would serve as a catalyst for the sports popularity in

Central Florida. “People here are very excited to know

that the West Indies team can visit Orlando and come to the area, and they are all excited about the whole situation here today,” said Jones, as West Indian fans clamoured for pictures and autographs from their favourite players.

“I am very happy to have the whole team here and I think that it will improve the relations in the community to see that we can bring our international team to this area, and it’s a win-win situation for all of us.”

There are about 30 cricket teams in the Central Florida area, with approximately 500 persons playing the sport at a competitive level – many of those being former regional domestic players – and Jones said that having the West Indies team train in the area would significantly boost the sport’s reputation and regard among younger persons as well as the decision-makers in the community.

“With a popular international team like the West Indies coming here, it’s great for us because the leaders here in this community would help us with getting more cricket fields, and it will encourage more youngsters to get involved in the sport and keep the game going in this area,” Jones said.

He had a positive outlook on the West Indies players.

“I think there is a lot of potential and ability. I think one of the most important things, though, is that the team has to come together. If there is any disparity among the players, then the problems will come. They need that cohesiveness and this is good for them that they can come out together and start to build, which is a good thing for West Indies cricket,” Jones added.

The West Indies camp ends on Saturday. Following the India tour the West Indies are slated to tour New Zealand from December 3 to January 15, 2014, before returning home where they play host to England from February 28 to March 13.


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