Windies lost lust for war, laments manager

MATT RICHENS IN DUNEDIN
Last updated 05:00 09/12/2013
Richie Richardson
ANDRWE CORNAGA/Photosport
BATTING LEGEND: West Indies manager Richie Richardson.

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The West Indies team are improving and the talent is there, but there is something intrinsically wrong with the sport in the Caribbean, says Richie Richardson.

Since the West Indies' halcyon days in the 80s when a superstar side dominated world cricket as their bowlers terrorised and batsmen, Richardson included treated attacks with contempt, things have gone downhill.

Richardson, 51 and the current side's manager, struggled to hide his frustration when asked what had happened to West Indies cricket.

He blames players' attitudes and their behaviour around cricket, but he was quick to add it wasn't the fault of today's players.

"It's very easy to blame the players, but I don't blame them for everything. You have to blame the system," he said.

"If people are allowed to do certain things and get away with it then you can't blame them. It's tough for me; that's not what I'm accustomed to."

Richardson spoke at length about the culture of success, the desire to be better and be the best in the world that the Windies of the past had.

Sadly, he lamented, it's long gone.

"It bothers me when you see guys hang around the changing room at the ground, doing nothing like they're still back at the hotel room," he said.

"As soon as you get on the [bus] you need to be ready. The opposition need to know you're serious and ready for business. You put on your game face and you're ready for action, ready for business, ready to work, ready to go to war.

"I think we've lost a little bit of that in our cricket and we need to get that back."

The life and death nature, the desperation in their play and their preparation was missing, he said.

"Something's gone wrong, maybe not wrong, but we've lost our way somewhere. It wasn't like that when I played. Somewhere along the line things have changed."

That was part of the reason Richardson accepted the manager's job a couple of seasons ago. He wanted to help instil change from within.

It's slowly happening and the way the West Indies fought long enough for the rain to save them in the first test in Dunedin speaks to that.

More needed to be done at home, though.

"It's not just at this level, it's at all levels. We really need to do a proper study to look at what we need to do. We're not going to get any quick fixes. There's lot of experts and people who know exactly what to do, but nothing is being done.

"The world wants WI cricket to be better. The way we play cricket, we play exciting cricket, they love to see us play. If the world wants us to be stronger, we should really do whatever it takes to get it right."

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There are some obvious reasons for their decline. Cricket isn't as sexy - or visible - in the West Indies as it once was.

The pitches have changed from quick-friendly wickets to spinners' delights and backbreakers for those keen to imitate the Joel Garners and Malcolm Marshalls.

That, however, has helped the development of world-class spinners like Shane Shillingford and Sunil Narine.

The batting is a big worry, but Richardson said the talent was there. Only Shivnarine Chanderpaul of today's lot was considered world-class before this test series, but the improvement of Kieran Powell and Darren Bravo's 218 in trying conditions in Dunedin proved all is not lost.

- The Press

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