'If this is the best we have, our cricket is in a very bad state' (24 January 1999)

24 January 1999

'If this is the best we have, our cricket is in a very bad state'

Colin Croft

Colin Croft sifts through the rubble of the West Indies' tour of South Africa with Brian Lara, Clive Lloyd and Malcolm Marshall

Colin Croft: The West Indies have just been whitewashed 5-0 for the first time in their history. The tour of South Africa has been a disaster. What's gone wrong?

Clive Lloyd (manager): We simply have not batted as well as we can. We have not shown the type of professionalism and discipline needed for Test cricket. I thought we had got rid of that so many years ago. It has come back again and we now have to try to work on that. Our batting has been woeful for a long time now, for five or six years or more. The people who have been selected for this tour are the people who made runs in the domestic competitions at home. We now have to look for fellows with determination to fight to the finish. We need warriors out there who would give their all, come what may.

Malcolm Marshall (coach): It all started badly when half of the team was in South Africa while the other half was in England. When the guys eventually arrived in South Africa, they went straight into a game the following day. There was no decent preparation and they have been found wanting throughout the whole series against South Africa's quick bowlers. Our batting has been a shambles.

CC: The one thing that sticks in my mind about this tour is that the level of performance never went up from the very poor start. I have never seen that before. Why do you think that happened?

Brian Lara (captain): All I can say is that Clive and Malcolm tried their best, working with the guys every day of this tour. However, as individuals, I thought we were weak and lacking in commitment and confidence out in the middle. This is something that maybe just going into the nets does not solve. Maybe we need some more help outside of cricket to make the guys more competitive 'upstairs' so we can be more competitive.

CC: Do you think you have been sufficiently inspirational as captain?

BL: I am a learning captain in international cricket. This is my first overseas tour as captain. As I told Hansie Cronje, it was not a real pleasure to lose the series so badly, but it has been a great learning experience.

MM: I think Brian has learnt a lot from this tour. While it is nice to be aggressive, sometimes it is prudent to be defensive. I think Brian will be good for our future.

CC: The people in the Caribbean are really upset by this whitewash. How are you going to handle going back there?

BL: The people are going to be very disappointed but I have begged my guys to hold their heads up high. I think they have tried their best and we have had numerous amounts of meetings to discuss our performances. I hope that things do turn around for themselves and for the team. While they want the West Indies cricket team to be successful, and not to disappoint the Board and the people, it is only a game, even though we all want to win. It does not mean the end of the world to lose so badly. My players are good players. I know they can play well. Simply, they must get back home and get themselves better organised. We simply have to do things so that we can get back on top quickly.

CC: There is not very much time between this tour and the Australian tour to the Caribbean. What would you like to see done immediately after this tour to bring back full glory to West Indies cricket?

CL: I would like to see 11 fully fit, disciplined, professional people out there who want to die for the West Indies. They do not have to look good, but I would like them to perform. The selectors will have to think hard after this, as this is a team they have chosen. They chose from what was available. If this is the best that we have, then our cricket is in a very bad state.

MM: The problems we've had here and on the tour to Pakistan, our last two overseas series, which we've lost by large margins, stem from not having had proper starts from our opening batsmen. The other three main batters here, Brian Lara, Shiv Chanderpaul and Carl Hooper have all had only one or two fifties. It has been most disappointing from those three, who we have come to expect a lot more from. Some of the batting I have seen on this tour has been disgraceful. Unfortunately, Jimmy Adams got injured before the tour started. He has been sorely missed.

CL: I think the selectors and everyone else concerned should watch more cricket than they have been doing. The youngsters must be more involved in the camps, while the veterans and the administrators must also be totally committed and involved. The entire picture must be revisited. We have to give our players the right attitude. The rudiments, the basics of the game must be learnt at an early age. That is what we are lacking in the Caribbean. Everything about us, our fielding, our approach to things cricket-wise, is pedestrian.

I would want to utilise all of the former players who could help with the moulding of the future. They should be involved in our camps as they can bring tried and trusted expertise while transferring that will to win to the younger guys.

BL: We have got a lot of great cricketers who have come from our own cricket. Most of these former players are now travelling around the world doing something in cricket, especially commenting and advising other nations as to how to improve their cricket. We can use these guys, instead of letting the rest of the world use them to better their cricket to beat us. We need to put these wise heads together to see how best we can use them to get back on top of the cricketing world.

MM: I would dearly like to have a lot more input. I have played 81 Test matches. I have played in Engand, I have played in South Africa, Australia and the West Indies. I am not only experienced but I think I have a fair amount of knowledge about the game and I am disappointed from time to time that what I might suggest does not go very far in trying to help develop our cricket.

There are a lot of guys with good natural cricketing ability who play under-19 cricket tournaments for their countries, but cannot get into their country or island senior teams and I think that is very disappointing. People like myself, Roger Harper or Gus Logie should be put in charge of these guys to look after them. If we do not do that, many of our talented guys between 18 and 23 will be lost to cricket forever.

CC: Do you think the West Indies have any hope of turning things round to compete against Australia and in the World Cup?

MM: I think we can win the World Cup, even though many people do not give us a chance at all. We will surprise many people. We have many players who have hands-on experience in playing in English conditions and that experience should go a very long way in helping us. Against Australia, it will be tough. We, though, always seem to play our best against Australia. I think it will be very close.

Source :: Electronic Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk)