Bengaluru: For those who have seen the glory days of West Indies cricket, the sight of them missing the bus to ICC World Cup 2023 was deeply painful.
The legendary Gordon Greenidge and Joel Garner know the feeling of winning a World Cup. They were part of Clive Lloyd’s invincible outfit that lifted the trophy in 1979, beating England at Lord’s.
When PTI reached out to the legendary duo, the feeling of disappointment was very evident after the West Indies failed to qualify for the 50-over World Cup in India.
“See! I don’t watch too much cricket these days, especially the white ball ones. Earlier a West Indies defeat used to hurt a lot but now it doesn’t that much as our standards have fallen over the years.
“But yes, a World Cup without the West Indies is quite unimaginable. We have no more depth to hit,” former West Indies opener Greenidge told PTI.
The view found an echo in Garner’s words.
“We are not what we were, right! Earlier, there used to be a lot of pride in playing for the West Indies. It was our motivation. Now, the young players are getting more attracted to T20 leagues. No blame on them as everyone looks around for security.
“Our generation also did not get too much money; it came mainly from County cricket. But now this generation of cricketers has many avenues to earn, and they cannot be blamed for using them. The pride of playing for the West Indies has to be brought back,” said Garner.
When the West Indies failed to enter the Super 12 of ICC T20 World Cup 2022, then Cricket West Indies president Ricky Skerritt had promised a thorough investigation and revamp. But going by the recent occurrences, nothing much has evolved since. Understandbly, Skerritt is disappointed.
“It is deeply disappointing to see West Indies missing a World Cup berth. It is utterly frustrating considering the lofty legacy our cricket has,” he said.
So, what is the way forward for the West Indies to regain their pomp? “I have always said that we need to pick the right teams, ensure availability of the best players for big tournaments and practice games ahead of them. It assures cohesion.
“It assures that we remain competitive and if you are not competitive enough then the big teams might not be interested in playing against the West Indies. Crowd will stay away from the stadiums. We will go down the pecking order. It should not happen,” he notes.
His words hold a lot of truth in them as West Indies’ preparation for the World Cup qualifiers was bordering on the doltish.
For the qualifiers, which are being held in Zimbabwe, the West Indies played practice matches in the UAE. The conditions in both the nations are as different as chalk and cheese.
Even in that series, six front-line Windies white ball players were not available, and they were: Kyle Mayers, Jason Holder, Rovman Powell, Akeal Hosein, Romario Shepherd and Alzarri Joseph.
Under such a situation, it was tough for the West Indies to find their range under new coach Darren Sammy and it reflected in their outing in the Qualifiers.
It has been often said that former players are not actively involved in the development of cricket in the Caribbean, leaving the young cricketers with no one to look up to.
“We are around. We are willing to help. But there has to be a proper definition of roles as clarity in communication is very important. I don’t think there is any scarcity of talent in the West Indies.
“But we need a proper system to keep the young players motivated and focused. It is an effort to be made by all the stakeholders, not just by one section or one person,” said Garner.
“It has to be kept in mind that West Indies cricket is bigger than individuals – look into you; make an honest effort,” added the legendary pacer.
Cricket lovers from around the world will be hoping for that!