West Indies has hit rock bottom

Cricketing great Viv Richards feels the game has hit rock bottom in the West Indies and lashed out at the board for ostracising former players, preventing them from helping revive the Caribbean’s glorious past.

The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) requires the “right opinion” from former cricketers to help cricket move forward in the West Indies, Richard told a news agency in an interview.

“I think cricket is at its lowest tier at the moment in the Caribbean. It’s not in a healthy state. Lots of work needs to be done to get it to the right prominence and to where folks would believe where we should be at,” Richards said.

The West Indian, the most destructive batsman of his era, fumed when asked about the role of former players in cricket’s revival.

“I am not at all involved in West Indian cricket. Most of the former players have been ostracised. Constructive criticism is not much accepted in the Caribbean,” the 58-year old said.

“I would love to take a role like Greg Chappell did for Australia. I think I have a good eye for talent and this is something that we have never taken on board in the Caribbean.”

Former Australian captain Chappell was the head coach at Australia’s Centre of Excellence before taking on a new role as Australia’s first full-time selector and national talent development head last month.

“It doesn’t smell that good when you have a board dictated to by the players’ association. The future of West Indies cricket is certainly in doubt in my opinion,” said Richards, who is in Delhi as an ambassador for the Antigua and Barbuda delegation in the Commonwealth Games.

Richards, who hit 24 hundreds in 121 tests in the glory days of Caribbean cricket, feels the longer version of the game still brings forth the best talent in the game.

He was all praise for the quality of cricket played during India’s thrilling win against Australia earlier this week.

“The Test match... and the finish ... that’s cricket for me at its very best. This format sorts the good ones out from the bad ones,” he said.

The West Indian, who had a strike rate of over 90 in one-day cricket, picked Australia captain Ricky Ponting as the most aggressive batsman in the current era but India’s Sachin Tendulkar got his vote for the best batsman.

“Ricky Ponting is the most aggressive for me. I have always liked his aggression. But the role Sachin is playing for India, that’s batsmanship at its very best for me,” he went on.

“The things Sachin is doing now and the way he did them in the past are two completely different chapters in his career. He is the eldest statesman where batting is concerned.”

The former West Indian captain was clueless about how the spot fixing menace had made its way into modern day cricket.

“I would like to think the salaries are good enough these days. If you get to a level and get recognised, you can play in tournaments like the Indian Premier League,” Richards said, with a wry smile.

Spot fixing has emerged as the latest threat to the integrity of cricket after the match-fixing scandal which rocked the game 10 years ago.

He was dead serious when he said that no bookie could have approached him for throwing a match away.

“It could have been around during my time. But I was pretty much solid and no one could have come to me and asked me to chuck a match,” he boasted.

“My pride and my country’s pride would have been at stake. That meant a lot more to me than maybe a few dollars and cents.”

Bureau Report