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April 4, 2007
Clive Lloyd threw his weight behind West Indies, saying they are capable of playing better than they have done in the Super Eights.
"This West Indies team can play much better than they have done. They played well in India and advanced to the final, something no one had expected them to do so," said Lloyd, referring to West Indies' runners-up finish in the Champions Trophy last year.
After three successive defeats in the Super Eights, the hosts face an early exit from the World Cup and need to win all three remaining matches against South Africa, Bangladesh and England to have any hope of reaching the semi-finals. After an all-win record in the group stages, Brian Lara's men suffered a 103-run defeat against the defending champions Australia, a seven-wicket thrashing by New Zealand and a crushing 113-run loss to Sri Lanka.
Those defeats have left millions of Caribbean fans disappointed, former players looking for scapegoats and organisers fearing for the financial implications if seeing even emptier stadiums for the remaining matches.
Lloyd, the most successful West Indies captain of all time who led them to victory in the 1975 and 1979 World Cup finals and a runners-up spot in 1983, said he would do his utmost to lift morale. "I hope to motivate the players by making them realise the pride of representing the West Indies at cricket," said Lloyd, who was also a former coach, manager and is now an adviser.
Lloyd said the West Indies team lacked experienced players. "We have a lot of young and inexperienced players, who have not been exposed to much international cricket and they need backing," said Lloyd.
Brian Lara has been singled out as the main culprit for the team's demise, with former fast bowler Michael Holding demanding his removal as captain.
Even a ten-day break, for which some players headed home to rest, has not been met with enthusiasm by some former players. "We are hearing they need time to go home and relax and that's unbelievable in the middle of the tournament when they should be representing their people. Aren't other teams tired?" questioned former captain Richie Richardson. Another former fast bowling great Joel Garner asked: "Going home, for what? "You can't walk off in the middle of the battle. We have to be together and correct the errors," said Garner.
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