'Time to put aside all the nonsense' - Joel Garner
Former West Indies fast bowler Joel Garner, recently appointed team manager for the tour to Australia, has said he hopes to instill in the squad a sense of the pride with which they dominated world cricket in the past. Garner, also a West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) director and president of the Barbados Cricket Association, will travel with the side to Australia for their three-Test tour of Australia.
"There are some things that are non-negotiable, things like discipline, punctuality and I think that players know and understand that there are some things that are not negotiable, the way we approach our cricket, the way how we train, all of those things will come back into force," he said. "The West Indies team that we had that was a good West Indies team of the 70s and 80s was not all talent. We were successful because we worked hard and we took the time out to do the things that were right and to bring the cricket up."
Garner aimed to make a difference on the tour in an attempt to revive West Indies cricket which has faltered, more especially over the past two decades, through weak leadership and general mismanagement. "I'm looking at bring back some of those values that made us great, back into the team," he said. "The first thing you have to do is start talking and let them understand what it takes to get to the top. You don't just really want to make the squad, you want to make the team and you want to keep working, you want to keep performing."
Chris Gayle was recently reappointed to lead the team, marking the end of the contractual dispute between the striking players and the WICB. Garner said the time had come to forget the bitter contractual row and strive to put West Indies back at the top of the cricketing map.
"What is happening in world cricket [is[ there are divisions where you have four or five world teams who are at the top and they want to go it alone and they want to play more cricket between themselves because they have the bargaining power," he said. "We have to understand we have to get from the position of number eight to be in those top four to be a force to be reckoned with in world cricket.
"The time to put aside all the nonsense [has come] and [we have] to look forward in a positive way. If you are only going to come to the party and not participate in the party then you're in the wrong sport."
Senior players such as Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Dwayne Bravo also returned to the squad for the three-Test series following the strike, while youngsters such as Adrian Barath, Kemar Roach and Gavin Tonge made the cut as well. For Garner, 56, one challenge was to ensure team unity.
"We have a challenging period ahead with the merging of the fellows who played during the strike and those fellows who were on strike," he said. "It is going to be a challenge to sort of get everything working smoothly and get them to play competitive cricket while we are in Australia.
"That's what is going to take most of the time and when we talk about the players who were playing and those who went on strike, this is where they need to understand they need to move on. We have to look at the future of West Indies cricket we have to look at what is happening in world cricket."