West Indies in England 2009 May 12, 2009

Lloyd criticises Windies preparations

Clive Lloyd has expressed disappointment and concern over the IPL's impact on the West Indian team, fearing another poor showing against England in Durham could erode the foundations laid by Chris Gayle's men over the past 18 months. Lloyd, the former West Indian captain and current chairman of the ICC's cricket committee, said the arrival of Gayle from the IPL less than two days before the Lord's Test had set a bad example for the rest of the Windies players, and the absence of Dwayne Bravo was being sorely felt.

Gayle scored 28 and 0 in West Indies' dispiriting 10-wicket defeat against England at Lord's, and was among those to turf crucial catches in the hosts' first innings. The Windies' poor fielding, Lloyd argued, was a direct result of the team's interrupted build-up to the series, and Gayle's decision to extend his stay with the Kolkata Knight Riders had hardly helped in that regard.

"It concerns me because our players are not here early enough, and some of them are not here at all," Lloyd told Cricinfo. "I am disappointed that Bravo is not here. We're not playing our best team. It is disappointing.

"I found [Gayle's late arrival] pretty strange, because as captain you want to be there with your team, and with your team early. I've always said - with all teams - that they should be playing more games before a Test match. Coming this early in England, you need to get some games under your belts, get accustomed to the conditions. Catching is important here. If it's cold, and if you're not accustomed to that, you will drop catches, as they've done here.

"You can't drop six catches and expect to win a Test match. Had they taken 75 percent of those catches, it might have been a different Test match. They did very well in New Zealand and against England in the West Indies, and they looked like they were just about levelling off, but there we go again, back to square one. It's like digging a hole to fill a hole. We have to be serious with our players and make sure they represent us in the right manner."

Lloyd hinted he was not entirely convinced at the reasons offered by the West Indies board for Bravo's continued participation for the Mumbai Indians while the Test series in England proceeds. Bravo was officially stood down from the two Tests against England after the Windies medical staffed deemed his ankle not yet ready for the rigours of Test cricket, but some, including respected Caribbean commentator Tony Cozier, have pondered whether Bravo's move was in some part motivated by his well-publicised feud with the WICB. The player himself is clearly not feeling any side-effects, having starred for Mumbai Indians with a matchwinning 70 not out on Tuesday

"The point is we have a guy called Bravo, who is still playing in the IPL," Lloyd said. "He's one of our best all-rounders. Had he been here bowling-wise and catching, he would add a lot to the team. Whenever he plays in our team, our fielding goes up another 15 percent. We miss him terribly, there's no doubt about it. I find that you shouldn't be choosing [domestic] one-day cricket over your Test match or Test series. Test matches are what we're known for. This guy was probably given permission to stay, I don't know the whole thing, but I would love to see him here."

Lloyd, a long-time resident of Manchester, was sceptical of Gayle's argument that the springtime pitch conditions in England contributed to his side's heavy defeat at Lord's. "They've been playing county cricket a month before that," he said. "It's a matter of getting here early, getting in your nets, working hard at your fielding and your batting. It's Test cricket - you have to be at your best. It's a Test of your character and your skills. That's why it's called a Test match. You've got to be on top of your game."

For the full audio interview with Clive Lloyd, tune into Cricinfo's Switch-Hit programme from Thursday

Alex Brown is deputy editor of Cricinfo