West Indies in Australia 2009-10 November 10, 2009

Gayle must respect Windies legacy - Richards


Sir Vivian Richards has called on Chris Gayle to put the West Indies contract dispute firmly behind him and lead his team in a manner befitting the region's legacy, as the team prepares to arrive in Australia on the eve of a Test campaign that will test the fragile peace that was brokered during meetings between the WICB and the players' association last month.

The team touches down in Australia on Wednesday, and Richards was cautiously optimistic that the reunited squad would put their recent troubles to one side. "The way it looks at the moment, it does suggest that there is a ceasefire," he told Cricinfo. "But we all know what ceasefires are like. Let's hope this is not a ceasefire like you get in the Middle East."

Gayle was a controversial choice as captain for the Australia tour, given his integral role in the stand-off with the board, and Daren Ganga was mentioned as a possible replacement following his inspirational leadership of Trinidad & Tobago in the recent Champions League.

But there is no questioning Gayle's status as the leading batsman in the Caribbean, and his absence was keenly felt earlier this year, as a second-string West Indies side slumped to an embarrassing home series defeat against Bangladesh, before being knocked out in the first round of the ICC Champions Trophy.

""I think Daren Ganga is a good captain who thinks on his feet, and he'd have been quite appropriate, so presently the jury is out," said Richards. "Gayle has got to go and show a different sort of attitude when he goes to Australia. He's got to show that he wants to represent his people and represent them well, and not only them, but also the legacy that he's representing. Let's hope he has learned his lessons."

Gayle has been the subject of controversy throughout a torrid year, particularly during the unscheduled tour of England in May, when he arrived in the country barely 24 hours before the first Test at Lord's, and went on to say in a newspaper interview that he "wouldn't be so sad" if Test cricket died out. But having announced his availability for the Australia tour, Richards said he was prepared to take the captain's declarations of full commitment at face value.

The way it looks at the moment, it does suggest that there is a ceasefire. But we all know what ceasefires are like. Let's hope this is not a ceasefire like you get in the Middle East.
Sir Viv Richards on the contracts dispute

"I take it on board when he says he feels pretty strong, even though he may not show the so-called enthusiasm," said Richards. "Some people do things differently, and he's one of those individuals who's pretty laid back. But I still like to believe he wants to see West Indies cricket do well, and it's up to him. He's in the seat now to make that happen."

Even with a fully unified squad, the challenge that awaits West Indies would be arguably the toughest in the world game, and Richards - who made five Test tours of the country in the course of his illustrious career - knows from personal experience just what lies ahead.

"An Australia tour can make or break a team," he said. "They are like that. They are a pretty competitive bunch of folks. Over the years, I've always loved competing against the Aussies, because you knew they weren't going to give you half-measures, they were going to give you their all. You knew to what capacity you were going to have to raise your level. And that, to me, was always interesting.

"The Aussies were always ready and available verbally, whether with ball in hand or not. And I appreciated that aggressive stuff because I am a competitor myself, and these were the things that made me think. I hope that Gayle and the guys can deal with that, especially coming back from the dispute. Let's hope that he [recognises] the job he has to do now, and makes sure that he gels that team, and hopefully, if this ceasefire lasts, builds a team that can be competitive in the future."

Few people give West Indies a realistic chance of putting up a fight against Australia - Brian Lara, who led their last tour to the country in 2005-06, predicted recently that they would receive a "hiding" - but it is not all doom and gloom in the Caribbean, thanks to the exploits of Trinidad & Tobago, who captured the imaginations with their enterprising performances in last month's Champions League in India, in which they finished as runners-up.

"The way things have played out in the media, a lot of people would think there's nothing happening in the Caribbean," said Richards. "But they have given us the light, and shown the world that our club structure is as good as any club structure around the world. Even though they didn't win the tournament, to me, the message was already sent that West Indies cricket is still very much alive."

Nevertheless, Richards did not believe that Trinidad's success as an individual island would lead to further ructions within the fabric of West Indies cricket. "I don't think we have very far to go where those matters are concerned," he said. "Barbados tried that once [in 1967] when they took on the Rest of the World, because of the number of players they had in the West Indies team at the time, and they took a hiding. They are going to need more volume, there are so many people around the Caribbean with so much talent. They must be given an opportunity. That's the format that we have and that's how I'd like it to remain."

Sir Vivian Richards is an ambassador for the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Junior A H on November 18, 2009, 1:41 GMT

    To even think of Darren Ganga as West Indies captain would be pure mockery of west indies cricket and would display a high level of Hipocracy in west indies cricket. Gone are the days when plays were given captaincy to hold a pick. Ganga cannot perform as a batsman in international cricket the only operational role he performs on the team, his batting cannot get him a pick, suddenly we a so desperate for a captain that we should give him a Job. I believe this job is better suited for a player who has showed promise and consistency at this level. even if it means nurturing one the young players who performs consistently so that they can adequately take up the mantle of capataincy. This Darren Ganga idea would be a big step in the wrong direction and it would be making a statement that there is no one wih the potential to lead on the west indies team. If we cannot count on our captain to score 20 runs in our time of need how is he suppose to lead our team.

  • Len on November 15, 2009, 22:00 GMT

    Firstly, Gayle should be nowhere near the Test team after the nonsense he came out with on the tour to England earlier this year. Secondly, I do not want to hear any nonsense about WIndies beating Australia, they have not got the team to do that. What I want to hear from Williams and Joel Garner is that this WIndies team are going to make Australia FIGHT all the way during the Series and for that to happen, they will have to BOWL, BAT AND FIELD WITH DISCIPLINE THROUGHOUT THE SERIES. If Windies are not doing these things, then I want to hear tactical criticisms of why they're not doing them, only by doing these things will WIndies START to go forward.

  • Len on November 14, 2009, 12:15 GMT

    I totally agree with the comments of Sir Viv and indeed think that he has not gone far enough!. Gayle does not think much of Test cricket and his batting average is modest for someone who has played as much test matches as he has, in other words, HE SHOULD NOT BE IN THE TEAM. I do not want Williams or anyone else to "talk up" our chances against Australia, instead, they should be asking for the team to show discipline in ALL FACETS OF THE GAME even if we lose the series and then take it from there because it should be obvious to everyone that Australia are the better team

  • hayden on November 11, 2009, 23:32 GMT

    as an aussie im really looking forward to seeing the windies back again! we all know gayle is one of the most destructive batsmen in the world but i think chanderapul is the bigger threat. in the last series the aussies couldnt get him out! if someone like nash (experienced in aussie conditions) or ramdin can hang around at the crease for a while the west indies should be able to post competative scores. also if benn is on his game, he could prove to be a handful with the ball. his hight and therefor his high release of the ball coupled with bouncy aussie wickets could make for some interesting viewing!!!

  • Nigel on November 11, 2009, 23:16 GMT

    I really don't think that their will be any difference in the fortunes of the team, seeing that they have had no real acclimitisation period together before leaving the Caribbean. I am also certain that very little homework has been done in evaluating the strategies to be employed in general for each game to iuncrease our opportunities to be competitive. On top of this, a lot of inane talk by all concerned about the fact that contractual disputes are over (which newspapers do you all read???) - Lara is right, and the team will only be able to compete in the T20 games. Australia are now among the world's best, being rated lower than ever before 1995 going into a Sir Frank Worrel Trophy. All this eing said, it matters very little who leads the team, or even who is selected to play - NO WINDIES TEAM WILL EVER BE COMPETITIVE IN LONGER FORMATS OF THE GAME IF THE MANAGEMENT EMPLOYED (???) REMAINS IN PLACE. My question - isn't the managment of the team synonomous with the WICB???

  • Javed on November 11, 2009, 22:02 GMT

    Leading batsman in the side? Chanderpaul is a without doubt a significantly better batsman and the only "world-class" one on the side.....and I would also give Sarawn a slight edge over Gayle too....Gayle may be the leading attraction due to his potential big hitting, but that's it. And mark my words, he'll soon be fourth in the pecking order once Bharath is given a fair chance. There's no doubt either that Ganga is a better cpatain, BUT, his success is largely due to discipline, and let's face facts, the majority of this WI side lacks discipline. That's why I will support Gayle as captain over Ganga, becuase he can command greater respect of most of the team. The side has the talent to do well, but they have to realise that talent is not everything and that they must work hard, have discipline, and exercise some common sense......they haven't matured that much yet, so I'll be surprised but very very happy if we come out better than a 2-0 loss.

  • giovaughn on November 11, 2009, 19:13 GMT

    i respect sir viv to the utmost. he is such a legend & struck fear in2 the hearts of bowlers all over. however his statements about gayle's batting & our club structure are not quite accurate. their is no way our club structure can compete or be compared with cricket in australia, england or even SA or Pakistan. Gayle has tremendous talent because his excelent hand eye co-ordination & reflexes help him to tear bowling attacks to shreds with his aggressive bating however he is not as technically sound in his footwork & shot selection as Sarwan or Chanderpaul & as he gets older it is inevitable his eyesight & reflexes will weaken. this is why he fails against good bowling. i strongly believe that if Chris had a good batting coach who he could relate to well there would be no bowling attack that could hold him down.

  • Taij on November 11, 2009, 17:47 GMT

    Let us get the "facts" right. Gayle, the present captain of the West Indies, is the leading batsman in the limited form(s) of the game. The leading batsmen in the longer form of the game ( TEST ) is Chanderpaul and second is Sarwan. That is the fact. The records are there for everyone to view if they wish to do so.

  • Susobhan on November 11, 2009, 17:04 GMT

    Australia will face a surprise. There is a lot of difference between this Aus and the Aus of 2006 and also some rookie talents have been included in the WI side. This WI can take 20 wickets in a test match.

  • ishy on November 11, 2009, 16:27 GMT

    Gayle is the best choice for capataincy..we are not playing in a regional tornament we are playing International Cricket with the world best..Take note my people Ganga cannot captain on that level..he hardly could make the squad....I beleive that Gayle will try his best....Windies all the way !!!!!

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