West Indies in Sri Lanka, 2010-11 November 10, 2010

Richardson sad at contract snubs


Richie Richardson, the former West Indies captain, is disappointed that leading Caribbean cricketers have declined to sign central contracts with the board. Chris Gayle, the recently replaced leader, along with allrounders Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard turned down offers from the WICB so that they are free to take up lucrative Twenty20 offers around the world.

At the time of not signing their contracts the three players - some of the most marketable Twenty20 stars in the world - insisted they remained fully committed to West Indies cricket. Gayle and Bravo are part of the Test squad currently in Sri Lanka, and Pollard is likely to be included for the one-day series next month, but their decisions have done little to ease tensions between the players and the board.

"Playing for your country should always be No. 1 then anything else comes after that," Richardson told ESPNcricinfo. "It might be different for a player who is coming towards the end of his career or hasn't been selected much, but the main players should be contracted to the board. I know they've stated their full commitment to West Indies, but clearly there are distractions around the game these days."

West Indies are a distant second favourite for the Tests in Sri Lanka which start on November 15, but Richardson is hopeful they can mount a challenge in a country where they never won a Test in six attempts. That's despite the efforts of Brian Lara in 2001-02 when he hit 688 runs, a record for a three-Test series, and still West Indies lost 3-0. Yet the scale of their challenge was clear on the opening day of their warm-up match against a President's XI when the visitors' batting crumbled for 176.

"I'm always hopeful and I always want West Indies to do well. But it's going to be tough, there's no hiding from that," Richardson said as he announced the launch of his own cricket academy in Antigua. "Sri Lanka are playing really good cricket and have just beaten Australia. It's a tough country to tour for any team, not many sides have gone there in recent years and won, and West Indies haven't been playing all that well, but you have to go in with a positive frame of mind. Anything is possible."

Darren Sammy has replaced Gayle as captain after the West Indies board decided it was time for a fresh face to take the side forward into the World Cup and beyond. Richardson has first-hand knowledge of the unique challenges involved in leading West Indies having captained them on 24 occasions - albeit before the severe decline set in - and believes Sammy has the personality and skills to be a success.

"It's too early to make a judgement on whether it's a good or bad move, but from what I've seen he is a very passionate cricketer which is what is needed," he said. "He's been playing well in the last couple of years and he's shown in some of his performances that he has leadership qualities so I'll certainly be supporting him."

However, Richardson is mystified by the absence of Ramnaresh Sarwan who wasn't even offered a central contract after the board voiced concerns over his fitness following a string of injuries. To leave out a batsman averaging 41.73 in Tests seems a luxury West Indies can ill-afford. "I don't know what is going on with Sarwan but he's certainly got the time to get back into the side," Richardson said. "He's one of our premier batsmen and I'm not quite sure why he isn't with the team or what the problem is. He's been playing cricket back home so should be there."

While the immediate prospects for West Indies remain bleak, with his academy hat on Richardson is convinced the game can thrive again on and off the field. "There are still a lot of youngsters in the Caribbean who want to play cricket," he said. "Obviously there are other distractions these days, but I'm convinced the passion is still there and will always be there. It's part of the Caribbean way of life. It will always be in the veins of Caribbean people."

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Derek on November 13, 2010, 18:43 GMT

    Since everyone is so hung up on the players earning money. Sack all and co-op a team of volunteers both playing, coaching and management. The facilities and suppor on offer to the WI are miles inferior to those of IRELAND and even Zimbabwe. Most people in this forum seem to have the answers until they have to step up to the plate. Quoting statistics of players and comparing with times gone by mean nothing. The playing conditions of today are completely different from yesterday, for starters we are in a DRUG free era.....

  • Jefferson on November 13, 2010, 13:11 GMT

    In 68 Test innings of batting Bravo have three hundred and thirteen fifties and eighty three wickets at forty and people still think we can't play without him and thats the problem with WI cricket right there. To many of that likes I think that we have lots of young players in the WI who can do what Bravo is doing if given a chance with guidance. They guys WI will miss thou is Taylor and Edwards with Roach they can be a deadly combination.

  • Dummy4 on November 12, 2010, 20:44 GMT

    I am glad to see someone else as captain, not my first choice but still. The players, younger ones, that is, need a mentor, a leader. i don't see that in Darren Sammy. I hope he has the support of the team, unlike Chanders' stint when it seemed that the players had objected to him. The real leaders are really off the field and do not seem to have the answers,WICB AND WIPA. Under Darren Ganga's short spell bowlers were not bowling at top speed and Gordon Greenidge and phenom in his day was throwing a hissy fit. I am still contending that when Clive Lloyd was captain the board was still in shambles, but the people united then. A real leader has to step and he needs the community to back him!!!!!

  • Rory on November 12, 2010, 14:54 GMT

    Too funny......Gayle and Bravo are set for life......that's because of the money they made OUTSIDE of West Indies Cricket.

  • Troy on November 12, 2010, 9:50 GMT

    Gayle and Bravo have played for their country every time they have been asked, except when instructed by WIPA not to. They are committed to playing for the WI but, understandably, are also concerned about their earning ability. I believe this has stemmed from the rushed series in England, 2009. WI had just beaten England over a four test series and had battled brilliantly throughout. Then they had to play in a hastily arranged series in England. I believe Gayle and Bravo do not want to be caught up in that again. If the WICB stick to their scheduling you can have the best of both worlds. The talent in WI is immense but there does seem to be a problem with fitness. Wouldn't it be great to see Taylor, Edwards, Roach, Bravo together? That would be as good as any attack in the world. As for Sarwan ..... it is a shame to see him out of the side. I am unsure of the reasoning but you shouldn't leave a player like him at home. WI batting is britle enough.

  • Rory on November 11, 2010, 14:01 GMT

    Is it a compromise to offer the best all rounder in the region a Level C contract when every other state in countries around the world knows the value of top players????? I support the players, its the board that needs a (another) complete overhaul. We need a board that knows how to bring out the best in its players. We need a board to say "hey, listen....playing for your country is the best choice you can make." It's sad to say but playing for West Indies is not the best choice (financially). The board needs to change that and give incentive. A level C contract for Dwayne Bravo is a slap in the face!

  • Dummy4 on November 11, 2010, 13:51 GMT

    And the circus goes on good luck west indies

  • Raymond on November 11, 2010, 12:13 GMT

    Ritchie has been a favorite of mine: great person on and off the field.Wish him luck with his venture. We all know what Sarwan's problems are: he in Indian, too youthful and too close to the players union. It is time him and Shiv, and some of the Jamaican players, start looking to finish the career positively by playing for the USA.

  • George on November 11, 2010, 8:38 GMT

    West Indies selection commete is very poor. They must have a all out guienune pace attackof Lawson , Roach , Edwards , Tayer/ Powell . If Lawson and Roach opent the innings half the opprostion team will collapse like a pack of card. WICB has only ego's no brains

  • Andrew on November 11, 2010, 1:57 GMT

    I admired Richie Rich when he played for the Windies, more so in his later years as he captained them in their spiral downwards (I think Punter knows the feeling). However, I have to say one should take a grain of salt with comments by past players about the current crop. As recently as the 1990s - most International Players had to suplement thei Cricket Earnings with a day job. The Calypso Kings were able to a certain extent avoid this as they played cricket all year round, either for their "country" or county. They were among the highest paid players in the game. Things have now gone full circle, & the Windies are amongst the lowest paid players in the game. The simple solution is for the ICC to open up 2 T20 windows during the year, (1 for each hemisphere), where there is no International cricket & T20 franchise based cricket can be played. This would allow WI players the chance to secure their future by being professional cricket merenaries BUT still be a WI player.

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