RAD-ICAL THINKING Welshman Toby Radford helped plot England’s mauling in West Indies with incredible NINE-HOUR meeting

Ex-county cricketer was hosts' secret weapon off the pitch as they won first two Tests - despite being unknown to cricket fans

05 February 2019 - 08:14

A WELSHMAN who grew up in England and spent years in county cricket has helped plot the humiliation of Joe Root’s team in the Caribbean.

Coach Toby Radford will not receive the same credit or kudos as captain Jason Holder, fast bowler Kemar Roach and the rest of the West Indies winners.

In fact, he will be unknown to most people. And that suits him fine.

Behind the scenes, however, Radford has been a huge part of the systematic and ruthless destruction of the England team during the first two Tests.

And his work has won widespread praise, including from former quickie Tino Best.

It all started with a string of Skype calls and then an incredible NINE-HOUR meeting at which tactics to beat England were formulated.

 West Indies stars Darren Bravo and Kemar Roach are all smiles after dishing out a series mauling to England - with one match to come
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West Indies stars Darren Bravo and Kemar Roach are all smiles after dishing out a series mauling to England - with one match to come
 Toby Radford caught out England with tactics he believes have worked perfectly
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Toby Radford caught out England with tactics he believes have worked perfectly

Videos were analysed and the strengths and weaknesses of each England player was assessed. The result? The aggressive and disciplined fast bowling assault and patient batting strategy to which England have had no answer.

The plans of Radford, interim head coach Richard Pybus — another Brit, born in Newcastle before spending much of his life in South Africa — and the rest of the coaching staff have worked to perfection.

Radford revealed: “We had some initial Skype calls and then arrived in Barbados before the players.

“One meeting started at 9am and didn’t finish until 6pm.

“Captain Jason Holder and vice-captain Kraigg Brathwaite came in for the last hour-and-a-half.

 Skipper Jason Holder has been a key man as the hosts won the first Two Tests
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Skipper Jason Holder has been a key man as the hosts won the first Two Tests

“It was absolutely brilliant and so refreshing to talk for so long about cricket and tactics.

“We went through all the England batters and tossed around ideas about how we could target them. Richard was very clear about how he wanted us to play.

“I know the county game well and many of the England players. I ran ECB camps with the likes of Jonny Bairstow when he was younger. That gives me a bit of insight.

“We were going to target what we thought were England’s weaknesses and hopefully they’d crack before we did.

“We wanted to bat with discipline and responsibility. Basic things, perhaps, but stuff we hadn’t been doing so well.

 Ex-Middlesex and Sussex player Toby Radford has his eye on the ball vs England
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Ex-Middlesex and Sussex player Toby Radford has his eye on the ball vs England

“Look at Darren Bravo. He’s come back into the side after more than two years and that six-hour fifty in the Second Test was so important. The players all bought into our ideas, they took ownership.”

Radford was born in Caerphilly but lived most of his life in Newbury, Berkshire.

His father Brian is an investigative journalist who exposed Lester Piggott’s tax evasion. Once, a hitman paid by an angry subject of a story sprayed CS gas into the family home.

In a career stretching back more than 20 years, Radford played for Middlesex and Sussex, scoring 27 centuries in second XI cricket. But first-team chances were limited.

 Vice-captain Kraigg Brathwaite and John Campbell celebrate after completing a 10-wicket win over England in the Second Test
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Vice-captain Kraigg Brathwaite and John Campbell celebrate after completing a 10-wicket win over England in the Second Test

After retiring, he took his first rung on the coaching ladder as cricket development officer for Berkshire.

He worked as a regional coach for the ECB and then as academy director, second XI coach and head coach at Middlesex. He has also been head coach at Glamorgan.

Radford has had three spells with the West Indies and is currently assistant-coach and batting coach.

He added: “Most people thought England would win easily but we have some very good young players. Shimron Hetmyer is highly talented, Brathwaite can bat for six hours.

“I’d describe myself as a technical coach. I can spot a fault and find a way of curing it, a bit like a doctor, I suppose.

“Richard has given us real direction. He asked the players to match-up with their England counterparts — and try to beat them. It got them thinking.

“England have become an outstanding one-day side on good pitches. They are fine stroke-makers who stand and deliver.

“But when there is lateral movement and uneven bounce, you have to be more circumspect and wait for the right balls to hit.

“Our attack is very good. Shannon Gabriel is aggressive, Roach swings it like Jimmy Anderson and can go round-the-wicket, Holder has had a great year and is a thinking bowler and Alzarri Joseph is 90mph with a fluid run-up. We have most things covered.”

Radford says inter-island divisions which afflicted Caribbean cricket for many years have virtually disappeared — mainly because of Holder’s dignified and calming leadership.

He added: “Even when I ran the high performance centre, you’d have the Trinidadians in one group and the Jamaicans in another. But that isn’t the case now.

“Jason is such a humble guy. For years, I really felt for him having to do all those interviews after defeats. So it’s great to see him enjoying some wins.”

 

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