VelloCricket caught up with Basil Butcher Jr. former United States of America (USA) Women’s Cricket Head Coach. Butcher has served as USA Youth and Mens Physio and Trainer over the past decade. The son of former West Indies star batsman Basil Butcher Sr., Butch as he is fondly known started his career as a nine years old attending trial matches in his native Guyana where his father was a national selector. Butcher Jr. started playing cricket in the USA in the 1980’s through to the 2000’s.
In 2005 Butcher Jr. was part of the team that developed the Tri-State brand. Alongside Linden Fraser, Lester Hooper and Clifford Hinds, Butcher Jr. and his colleagues pooled together teams from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Washington D.C. into an Under-19 (U-19) league. It is here Butcher Jr. began his coaching career at the helm of the New Jersey unit. From there Butcher Jr. coached the Atlantic Region U-19 at the USA National youth tournament. Butcher’s rise continued when he was named the Physio to the USA U-19 team at the 2006 ICC U-19 World Cup in Sri Lanka. Up till 2015 Butcher has had up to 10 years service at the national level with youth, women and senior teams.
VelloCricket: What is the highlight(s) of your career to date?
Basil Butcher Jr.: There are a number of fond memories along the way. USA’s first win at a World Cup over Namibia in 2006 U-19. Then in 2011 I was at the helm with Atlantic Region taking the USA National Twenty/20 (T20) tournament at home. There were close misses in 2006 and 2009 when the Atlantic Region U-19 lost in the finals. I served as Assistant coach in the Atlantic Regions triumph in 2006 and runners up in 2010. Being the Head Coach for the National Women team was very auspicious as we won each match only to lose out on net run rate as our match with Canada in the regional qualifiers in 2011 was rained out. At the World T20 Qualifiers in United Arab Emirates (UAE) I was able to get a first hand view of the who’s who in the Associate world of cricket.
VelloCricket: Whats has the past year been like?
Basil Butcher Jr.: The past year has been a turbulent time with the suspension. I had the opportunity to observe and participate in the American Cricket Combines in New York and New Jersey. I also attended the High Performance coaching seminar in Florida during the Caribbean Premier League (CPL). I have continued speaking with and mentoring National players and players on the cusp of the national team. Our players are eager to make to step to the next level but they are unaware of what type of preparation is needed to succeed at the next level. I have even developed a workshop to help these players during the off-season. The workshop targets how one should practice, how one should train and is geared towards improving a player’s skill set.
VelloCricket: What are your thoughts about the talent at the Combines?
Basil Butcher Jr.: There was nothing to write home about. I don’t believe that the Combines were the right process for selecting the best players. Those responsible for putting the Combines together did not reach out to those familiar with the local landscape. We have a proven pathway here in the USA, from the clubs were get the best players playing Inter-League, then on to the Regional teams at National tournaments. Also the national selection panel should have been implemented before the Combines, in that way the selectors would not have only seen the best players for selection, but they would have been able to earmark players for the future. In my opinion the ICC Americas have come in reinventing the wheel. It seem that they were of the belief that we here in America are not able to structure cricket, yet they have selected the same players United States of America Cricket Association (USACA) would have selected.
VelloCricket: Can you elaborate on your experiences at the High Performance Seminar?
Basil Butcher Jr.: Just all the insights from the different coaches and presenters and those who have been successful at the international level; Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Tom Moody, Eric Simmons, and Trevor Penney. The all spoke to coaching and how to coach varying scenarios. Kumar Sangakkara spent 45 minutes presenting on what is needed to develop the level of batsmanship that has brought him success over time. He spoke to preparation and more so the aspect of mental preparation.
VelloCricket: What are your thoughts on Team USA’s chances at World Cricket League (WCL) Division Four?
Basil Butcher Jr.: Firstly, I will like to wish the team well! There are several players who have played for USA in the team but there is still a need for some more experience in the lineup as many of the players will be making their debut at the 50 over level. Also there is going to be a new captain and he will be new at the job. The Auty Cup would serve as a good preparation as Canada is a quality opponent. Two key components for success would be the players maintaining their fitness over an extended period and them being consistent in the discipline of the sport; batting, bowling, fielding and catching.
VelloCricket: Who would you say the selectors missed for this tournament?
Basil Butcher Jr.: Steve Massiah should have been selected in the initial 30 man squad. His experience leading the batting and the intangible assets that he can bring to the team at this level. Massiah turned up at the Combines showing his desire to continue playing for his country. I would say Raj Bhavsar and Savan Patel from New Jersey were unfortunate not to progress out from the Combines. Also Francis Mendonca was unlucky not to move on beyond the 30, he probably missed his chances against MCC where Syed Abdullah took his opportunities.
VelloCricket: Randall Wilson scored 70 odd against MCC any thoughts on him?
Basil Butcher Jr.: There are lot of people pushing for Wilson, but he takes too many deliveries to score and he does not score off the bad balls as frequently as he should. He does have a good temperament to bat long and a good demeanor in general, so I would like to see him capitalize on taking advantage of those loose deliveries a bit more often.
VelloCricket: Keifer Phil has been around the youth setup for the past 3-4 seasons do you see him as one for the future?
Basil Butcher Jr.: Phil has all the raw tools, he can bowl fast, he has the ideal physique for a quick and the agility to go along with it. I have spoken to the local coaches in New York as I can see Phil as on of the emerging players, because he has the potential to bowl quicker than he is bowling right now. Another player that comes to mind is Rao from North Carolina, like Phil he has the pace to unsettle batsmen as there are very few genuinely quick fast bowlers in the Associate world of cricket.
VelloCricket: What are your thoughts on the latest developments with USACA?
Basil Butcher Jr.: Now that ICC is considering the latest draft of the USACA Constitution, it is very likely that USACA’s membership maybe reinstated very shortly. Quite frankly I am disappointed with the performance displayed by the ICC Americas in the administration of American cricket. Following USACA’s suspension there should have been a local interim body to oversee American cricket rather than the ICC Americas. It seems that ICC believes that many people here are pro-USACA wherein the case would be that we are for the best cricket in America and that does not have to be partisan USACA. ICC Americas came in with the misconceived notion that USACA were not picking the best players, yet they have wasted time and money to come up with similar results. Even the NAGICO Super 50 team was a vindication of the USACA’s selection panels abilities.
VelloCricket: What is your viewpoint on those selectors and coaches imported for the Combines?
Basil Butcher Jr.: That was a colossal waste of time and money. I spoke to the then Regional Development Manager about the report before USACA suspension. The report mentioned that coaches were contacted, yet only Robin Singh and Kenny Thiruman who were not familiar with the local operations of USA cricket were contacted. There were opportunities for this latest ICC Americas regime to speak to their predecessors like Wendell Coppin and Andy Pick about what would work here in America.
In sum I am quite please with the work of ICC President Manohar Shashank as he has changed the tide set out by former president N. Srivasan and Co. who had set about dislodging USACA from the helm of US Cricket. Dave Richardson also admitted that, “We probably went too far with our investigations into US Cricket!”