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February 18, 2008
Richie Richardson, the former West Indies captain, has backed Ramnaresh Sarwan to return as captain for the forthcoming home series against Sri Lanka and Australia, instead of stand-in captain Chris Gayle.
"From way back, even when Shivnarine Chanderpaul was there, Sarwan was my man," Richardson told the Nation, a Barbados daily. "There is something about him that I like. He has the demeanour, the approach and I think he commands respect."
Sarwan, who was groomed for the job from the time he was appointed vice-captain in 2003, succeeded Brian Lara as West Indies captain before last year's tour of England. When he was afflicted with recent injuries, Gayle took over and was able to inspire the team to a one-day series win against England and a maiden Test win on South African soil, prompting many observers to favour him for the job when Sarwan returns.
"Gayle seems to be a different person when he assumes the role as captain of West Indies," Richardson said. "For some reason he was able to get a response out of the bowlers in particular.
"I'm sure whoever they choose as captain, it doesn't matter as long as the team rallies around that individual and that individual goes out there, leads from the front, gets the guys together and tries to get the team to play better.
"Nobody knows who is the ideal person, but at the end of the day, if we have support for whoever is captain, the team will perform better. I would go for Sarwan. If they remain with Gayle, I wouldn't have a problem with that."
Richardson, one of 14 legends sitting on the Stanford 20-20 board of directors, is however not convinced that the team will be a force to reckon with until there are changes to the set up in the region. Among the things he wants to see are proper development programmes, a serious focus on youth cricket and a new culture in West Indies cricket.
"We're very fickle in the Caribbean. We all want success. As soon as there is a little success, we tend to get carried away. I'm always one to look way down the road. If you win a few matches, that's not it. It's how well prepared you are and how solid your foundation is to take you into the future.
"It is important to get results, but it is more important to put a plan in place, invest in players and try and create a foundation that will propel our cricket way into the future."
© The Nation
Plays of the Day from the second ODI between England and India, in Cardiff
Plays of the day from the third ODI between England and India at Trent Bridge
Plays of the day from the tri-series match between Zimbabwe and South Africa
Would he have fared better than the incumbent middle-order batsmen, Root and Ballance?