West Indies news May 3, 2011

Roberts calls for complete WICB overhaul


Andy Roberts, the former West Indies fast bowler, has said that the West Indies cricket board needs a complete overhaul if the region's cricket is to improve. He called on the board president Julian Hunte and the chief executive Ernerst Hilaire to resign and was also critical of the way the West Indies players' association approaches its role. Roberts said today's players spend too much time in the gym and not enough time in the nets.

Having coached West Indies in the 1996 World Cup and been on the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) cricket committee as recently as 2008, Roberts understands how the existing system functions, and lashed out at the board, saying they were damaging cricket in the Caribbean. "The board does what it pleases them," Roberts told ESPNcricinfo. "They don't have a clue how to move West Indies cricket forward. They don't have a clue. Some of the board members should resign otherwise the same problems will keep appearing in the future also."

When asked specifically if he thinks Hunte and Hilaire should resign, Roberts said, "Both should resign. Some of the top people in the board should resign. We need a different approach."

The West Indies board recently decided to take cricket in the region in a new direction with an emphasis on playing younger players as the last 15 years have not produced significant improvements. Roberts, however, warned that this "new direction" could lead West Indies cricket into another cul-de-sac. "Fifteen years is a long time and we haven't seen much progress but if we don't change the current approach, another 15 years will go down the drain."

He feels that the board is erring by just focusing on a few players rather than thinking of developing cricket at the grassroots levels across the entire region. "You can't just concentrate on few players playing in the Test team. I have been saying this from 1995. The problem is that the board seems to view few players as the problem in West Indies cricket. That is wrong. The entire cricket in our region is in a mess. It's not about [Ramnaresh] Sarwan, [Shivnarine] Chanderpaul, [Chris] Gayle or [Dinanath] Ramnarine. Don't focus on two or three players.

"Focus on the lack of development of cricket and lack of advancement in players across the region. For 15 years, they have been just trying to focus on few players in Tests and haven't done much for the development of the game. Develop the regional sides, improve the system."

He believes that the real truth behind the on-going controversy between the board and some of the senior players might never be known. Gayle and Chanderpaul weren't selected for the Pakistan series, with Chanderpaul claiming the selectors asked him to retire, while Sarwan was only drafted in for the fourth ODI. "We have three sides on this issue - your side, my side and the truth. I don't think we will ever know the truth. Both parties have been presenting different versions."

However, Roberts thinks Chanderpaul should retire from the one-day cricket and focus solely on Test cricket. "It's not totally clear whether the selectors asked him to retire from all forms of cricket. Personally, I think Chanderpaul should retire from one-day cricket and focus on Tests. West Indies needs him in Tests."

At the same time, he thinks the board has not handled the situation properly. "I am not clear on the Gayle issue. Both parties' version differs so much. I wouldn't like to comment without knowing the truth but all I can say is that it's not being handled properly."

Roberts also had some advice for the WIPA, which he thinks is too focused on the monetary rewards from cricket rather than the quality of the players. "The president [Ramnarine] needs to get the players to improve their cricket. If they are good enough, they will get the money. If they aren't good, there will be confrontation and trouble as you are asking for something you don't deserve. The players should focus on setting their game right. Else we shall just keep having these problems."

The board does what it pleases them. They don't have a clue how to move West Indies cricket forward

The players did not escape criticism either, mostly for their attitude to personal development. "My advice to the players is to look at their cricket and take personal development seriously," Roberts said. "Work on the attitude, skill, fitness, technique and work on them yourselves. Don't wait for the board to do it. Don't indulge in blame game. If the players can improve their skills to the highest level, and improve the attitude, West Indies cricket will improve. They have to change their attitude. That can only come from within."

The emphasis on fitness at the expense of actual cricketing skills has led Roberts to believe the thinking in West Indies cricket has sunk to a new low. "The new thinking is not the old way. I know cricket has changed, thinking has changed but the basics are the same. The technique remains the same. You can't hold the ball across the seam and hope to bowl outswingers, for example."

He was critical of the approach of some players and the atmosphere fostered by the board that makes the players act in that manner. "Attitude and work ethic has changed. Lots of players don't practice cricket much. Some spend more time in the gym than in the nets.

"I heard Gayle being quoted as saying that the board says, 'If you are not fit, you can't play for West Indies'. That's not the wholesome approach. If you aren't technically and mentally good, and physical fit, then you can't play at the highest level. Less time in the gym and more time in nets is what is needed."

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on May 6, 2011, 12:18 GMT

    Being a past great does not afford Andy any moral aothority. If he truly believes in the development Indies cricket as he claims he will have used his authority and influence to make antigue cricket the high point of west indies cricket. lets not forget Antigue has Roberts, Richarts, Ferris, Merrick, Baptiste and others and while they all seem to be speaking from the heart, what have they contributed in kind to develop the quality of cricket at the grass roots level back home? lets stop being hypocrites here because the grwoth of West Indies cricket will never be realised until many past players and others who can conrtibute give their free time towards the development of the skills level at the youth level. We dont have the money so we must become charitable. Roberts and all of them are about "whats in it for me"

  • Dummy4 on May 6, 2011, 11:34 GMT

    What is sad is Andy was there and we saw no improvement. If he really cares as he is blabbering why isnt there a difference in Antigua and leeward Islands cricket? Everyone seem to know what the solution is but the grassroots have not been fortified one bit.

  • Dummy4 on May 5, 2011, 16:14 GMT

    SADLY..how the mighty ave fallen!fearsome foursome (no mrshall in dat mind u!)with the likes of Richards,lloyd,haynes, Greenidge,rowe,kalicharran thrown into the mix..wat a team it was in 70's and 80's!unfortunately cudnt quite grapple with the seats gettin vacated often enough..a lack of proper infra,lack of incentives for young lads to take it upa s a a career probably..shambolic admin..all have aggravated this kinda situation plaguing them..ANDY ROBERTS Was indeed fiery,fast and a brooding meanacing assasin with his faraway looks.his spell (12 for)at Cheapauk in Chennai on agreenish pitch in Jan 1975 is part of cricketing folklore in this neck of the woods..tEST CRICKET NEEDS A STRONG AND VIBRANT WINDIES OUTFIT for their sheer joie de vivre,cavalier spirits!

  • Dummy4 on May 5, 2011, 15:44 GMT


  • Johnson on May 5, 2011, 12:44 GMT

    I agree with Andy.Darren Sammy is the main problem . He is a selection headache. Sammy affects the balance of the side. with Sammy in the side u have to drop a frontline batsman, the wicketkeeper or a bowler who is more potent. Case in point the world cup where Shiv was dropped, Rampaul left out and even Rusell who was taking wickets had to be left out. I remember the problems with Ben and Shillingford who were both bowling well and presented problems for selectors. We need aggressive quickies to open the bowling. And with Sammy doing so the pressure is realeased early. I recommend that we can have either Bravo or Sammy(not as captain) or neither. Bravo bat at Eight after the keeper. Nash as captain. Six front line batmen. Baugh or Ramdine. Bishoo is a must. To good fast men, Rampaul and roach. Probable in batting order. Simmons,Chanderpaul, Darren Bravo,Sarwan,Samuels, Nash,Baugh, Dwayne Bravo, Rampaul,Roach and Bishoo. Bowling provided by : Roach,Rampaul,Bravo,Bishoo, Nash and Simmo

  • PATRICK on May 5, 2011, 11:59 GMT

    It's a shame WI can't afford Gary Kirsten- We need a good new coach!

  • Dummy4 on May 5, 2011, 9:46 GMT

    @cric_fanatics: I'm sad to see THAT dream of yours won't come true. My commiserations. :D

  • Dummy4 on May 5, 2011, 9:05 GMT

    Andy is right about the players. Pakistan has an equally horrid management but the difference has been wrought by our players. Of-course, they are more likely to be patriotic because they represent one country, and here is where the west indians deserve some leeway, but at the end of the day, they will just have to create that extra bit of passion that is the driving force. Pakistan are also fielding an inexperienced side. I as a pakistani resent having to face Bishoo, Darren Bravo and Lendl Simmons. I just don't see any self-belief in the west indies camp though. I think the rain has given them a much-needed break and they could well come back really really hard at us. I'm glad to know. I want Pakistan to win and I also want our opponents to do their best to stop us, making for a sweeter victory. I want us to beat an excellent team, preferably after losing a decisive toss. That is how west indies can do both us and themselves a favour.

  • Dummy4 on May 5, 2011, 3:05 GMT

    Sri Lanka finished runners up at the last two ICC W.C. The performance of the team cannot be faulted. Yet at the end of the last campaign the captain and the selectors resigned. The West Indies failed miserably and the coach, captain, selectors and board remain firmly entrenched. I am sorry to say that I agree with the comment posted. We need a clean slate to start to write on. The board needs to go, the captain needs to go, and to save face and the inevitable the coach should duck out now......At the end of his tenure the WI will be at their worst ever. We need to make changes at school and club levels and build a foundation on which our international cricket can grow. We need change and realistic and effective change and we need it now!!! The board and present coach will not advance us one inch........

  • Dummy4 on May 5, 2011, 2:08 GMT

    I believe that Mr Roberts have spoken from the heart. Over the years has displayed that sort of levelheadedness even on the field of play. He has touched the very heart of the many issues facing our cricket. The WICB is in self denial for some time now. The members have place veils over their faces when the problems of West Indies cricket is before them. Andy said it right some of them should go they forget or they don't know the rudiments of the game. Over the years we have been having problems with our cricket. Even the man on the street knows why our cricket has decline thus far.Too little and the mediocrity remains a problem The board never address that, the problem of cricket at the grass-root level has never been properly address also, our wickets have been deteriorating over the years, hence the quality of good players are few and far between.Teams which were of lesser statue have manage to put systems in place to develop their cricket while we are behind fighting one another.

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