West Indies legend speaks out April 28, 2006

Hall pleased with progress made by players and board

Philip Spooner

Wes Hall: 'I would like to see the players come into the picture so that they would be part of the solution and not part of the problem' © WICB

West Indies cricket has reached a new level of maturity with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and the West Indies Players' Association (WIPA) agreeing on the new retainer contracts, says Wes Hall, the fast bowling legend who was a former president of the WICB.

As Hall hinted last week at the Legends of Cricket Barbados launch, the WICB decided to name Brian Lara as captain. Hall said he was delighted with this move and added that Ramnaresh Sarwan should be named as the deputy. Hall said that the original idea was to have a succession plan and this must now be put back in place. He said it was unfortunate that Guyana never made him their leader.

"The whole process now has to be developmental. We can't waste another day. The youngsters in the team have been around for a few years and we now look at maturity and progress once given the tools."

In welcoming the news of the deal between WIPA and the WICB which was concluded early yesterday, Hall said it was time to take West Indies cricket forward, bury the hatchet and arise from the "dark days" which have threatened to destroy the fabric of the game in the region.

"They [WIPA and WICB] both needed to bite the bullet and narrow the negotiable gap for the good of West Indies cricket. Happily this has happened," said Hall. "This is a new beginning and a chance to move forward. We have to plan for a year to get it all right for the World Cup. We have now to move forward and forget the ad hoc attitude that has worried West Indies cricket. There was no need to be adversarial in our dealings. We needed to come together and get our best team and we need our best team at all times."

Last week Hall warned the players that they needed to get on with the business at hand or face the possibility of losing public support. He added, however, that not all of the previous problems were the fault of the players' body. The board also needed to shoulder some of the responsibility for the difficulties over the years, he said.

Hall, a former government minister, said the process now needed to be taken one step further. He believes if WIPA is offered a place on the board of directors of the WICB, it would bring the various arms of West Indies cricket even closer together. He also called for the board to be reduced to eight members - one each from the six territorial boards, along with the president and the WIPA representative.

"You need to reduce the board. That's revolutionary, and I would like to see the players come into the picture so that they would be part of the solution and not part of the problem," Hall said. "If the players had a representative on the board it would bring a different mindset. In Barbados today the union now has representatives on statutory boards and has been a major player with the government and the private sectors and has played a major role in set-up in Barbados, and it works well.

"That's the example that has been used, but we have seen that they are beneficial and have a very positive influence on the workforce situations. If there is going to be reconciliation there, we need to make the West Indies the embodiment of world cricket again. We have been down and have to get back up on our own. Instead of talking about how good we were, we need to realise how we got there and repeat that process.

"It has been almost 11 years since the aberration when we lost to Australia in Kingston and we have been kicked off the world pedestal ever since.

"It has always been my view that once we do the right things from now until the World Cup we will get into the last four and get close to winning the tournament. We need three strike bowlers bowling at 90 miles an hour, and we can take on the world."

He also said there should be some liaison with the governments of CARICOM. He said the governments have now become a major shareholder with the investment in Cricket World Cup and should have closer links through the sub-committee on cricket.