December 21, 2012

'About time West Indies came back'

Richie Richardson, the West Indies manager, doesn't only take care of team logistics, he also is a mentor to a young side finding its feet in international cricket

There's a good chance West Indies will win five Test matches in a row when they take on Zimbabwe in March next year. This streak would better the four in a row they won in 1993, albeit against much stronger opponents.

This West Indies team has defeated New Zealand at home and Bangladesh away, but it would nonetheless be an achievement for the players, who have turned a corner this year.

As the team manager, Richie Richardson, who captained West Indies during their 1993 streak against Australia and Pakistan, will be watching from the dressing room when Zimbabwe come to Barbados. He is one of the lesser-mentioned cogs of the West Indies machine under Darren Sammy.

For all the goodwill they have received for their recent success, West Indies' progress has been slow, and the four wins are nothing compared to what Richardson's team achieved, starting with the famous one-run win in Adelaide that turned the 1992-93 series in Australia in West Indies' favour. They went on to win the final Test, at the WACA, by an innings and 25 runs, and the series 2-1. The next two were comprehensive wins against a Pakistan attack led by Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis.

Things have changed so much for West Indies cricket since then. Victories against New Zealand and Bangladesh are now causes for celebration. This new sense of success was missing from the side in the past decade.

"Since I have been here, there is certain improvement, in terms of commitment," Richardson said. "Players are buying into what the coach has to offer. It is paying off. [They are] working harder and with more commitment."

It has been slow going between January 2011 and December 2012, but the last six months might give Richardson a brief reminder of how things were back in the day.

These days he spends most of his time dealing with logistical and managerial issues, though he tries to spend time talking to players as well. "I like the idea of working with younger players, paying attention to them. I make sure they do the right thing.

"I hope we can really rise again. I believe we can. We have dominated world cricket for a long time and we had a lull. I think it is about time we came back."

Richardson said working with Sammy is easy. "He often asks me questions, and I feel free to discuss bowling, batting and captaincy. It is very important for captain, coach, manager and senior players to have a good relationship. Sammy works well with anybody, always smiling and open, approachable."

Richardson says it's nice for captains to have a large support staff at their disposal, a luxury he didn't enjoy during his captaincy years. "Captaincy is always tough but if you want to compare between my time and now, I was a player, captain, father, counsellor, coach, everything. It is easier for players with the support staff these days. Everything is more controlled, [we have] several coaches, we have everything available now, but back then we had nothing. We had to do everything based on memory. Things are better. That's how it should be, because the game is becoming more and more professional and you have to do these things to [keep up] with the rest of the world."

West Indies coach Ottis Gibson appreciates the "tremendous" support he receives from Richardson. "He has been brilliant for me to bounce ideas off," Gibson said. "His attention to detail, in terms of touring, the movements of the team, the logistics of the team, is second to none."

But Richardson is not your everyday team manager. In Bangladesh he strutted out of the airport and declared the team had arrived to win everything on the tour. And though West Indies lost the ODI series, their improvement didn't go unnoticed.

Richardson also offers advice to batsmen and slip fielders, though not often. Gibson, in fact, welcomes Richardson's input. "He's a Level 3 coach in his own right," Gibson said. "He spends time talking to the young players, especially about batting in Test cricket. He was one of the best slip fielders West Indies ever had, so to be able to offer advice to the guys, he gets involved in some of the practices."

It is hard to imagine whether a fifth consecutive win will make Richardson feel the way he did after his streak in 1993. But as the manager and senior-most member of this West Indies set-up, he will take pride in seeing his charges experience the success he did on a routine basis during his international career. And five straight wins will certainly mean more to West Indies cricket today than they would have in 1993.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on December 24, 2012, 10:52 GMT

    viv richards used to say " doh wanna hear man wanna see "

  • trevor on December 23, 2012, 8:21 GMT

    Johnson,Gabriel,Roache & Best who was maliciously kept out of WINDIES cricket along with Rampaul appears to be the answer to the WI bowling attack; The spinners are match winners. Shillingford,Benn, Deonarine & Narine along with Samuels have proven their worth.The administration of the team needs to improved THEIR selection of the team. The Windies must find a way to incorporate Edwards, & Deonarine into the test team, they must be given a chance to prove their worth; Taking them on tour and not playing them in a major match is senseless. Russel needs to play more often, so does Simmons;Give them a chance , if they fail consistently,then they would've had their due. We need to have 2 captains, also they can be more variety between the TEST team and the ONE DAY .The batting is still the problem,Samuels has risen to the occasion, Bravo is on his way, Edwards and Deonarine along with a young talent like Roache, Shillingford looks good for the future.Groom the future Cpt. now.

  • Dummy4 on December 22, 2012, 17:29 GMT

    WINDIES..pls come up with somthng like your batting power houses and pace batteries of the 70s,80s, fedup of seeing these players which according to andy roberts (vid on youtube) are all mediocre players..according to him they simply look good bcz they play against mediocre players who are in abundance these days :) apart from pakistan, windies has been the team i liked most upto 10 years ago :)

  • ethel on December 22, 2012, 12:43 GMT

    As a former back foot player who mostly depended on bowlers to pitch short for you to score runs is our batting coach! No wonder Smith was bowled like that with an in-swinger pitched on a good length. Desmond Haynes would have been the perfect batting coach when i compare his technique with yours. But i digress! Since you are one of those responsible for choosing the final 11 to go on the field why not let sammy be the 12 man and captain from the bench? No, it is as idiotic as allowing sammy to continue captaining the team and cannot maintain his place there.When Best, who was not given the chance to develop when he was younger,cannot play who is going to replace him? No wonder the youngsters are turning to other sports....they have no one to look up to We had Wes Mall,Charley Griffith and lawrence Rowe.

  • Earl on December 22, 2012, 1:28 GMT

    Moppa,,I agree with you 100%.I think that poor team selection is what is going to hold West Indies back.Young, hungry good players have to be incorporated into some form of the game.I think Deonarine would of bowled better than Narine did and his fielding and batting would of strengthened the team.He bowled well against a stronger Australian team on less helpful wickets.

  • Dummy4 on December 22, 2012, 0:45 GMT

    West Indies is surely in good position to step further up the rankings in both test & odi's. there are however a few things that need ironing out. Edwards & Best are both 30+ & unreliable Rampaul is not much younger & has frequent fitness issues. These 3 will be good enough for another 2 years or 18 months max. we need to look at getting Gabriel & Johnson into the test setup quickly as support for Roach who has come on nicely in 2012. Sammy's bowling stats especially since year are not good enough to be a part of a 4 man attack or even backup bowler for that matter. We could look to include some1 like deonarine who seems a more likely allrounder candidate. Sammy falls more in the category of support staff / 12th man - fielder where he can help the team best. Narine needs some serious coaching & practice with a decent spin coach before he can be considered for Test cricket

  • ethel on December 21, 2012, 22:42 GMT

    We need a bowling coach. Gibson is not doing a good job. He has a lot of say in who is selected and to have at least 3 fast bowlers at his disposal and pick only one tells me that he does no know what he is doing. Ban--dash has quite a few good spinners who are better than the one we had but instead of throwing something at them that they are not accustom to he insisted on using jackers to bowl them out. I am sure Benn ans Shillingford would have done a better job. Furthermore Sammy playing only as a captain is not good enough..I think that you are better off learning to wicket-keep. As a medium pacer who has no knowledge of swing the ball makes you just a bowler hoping to get a wicket . If having a good relationship is the only cryteria sammy possess it is not enough to be the captain. There are too many simple mistakes made by him.

  • Dummy4 on December 21, 2012, 22:30 GMT

    WI do have the talent and ability to win against any of the top three or five teams. I need to select by merit. Take for example Deonarine made the highest runs in their regioanl competition and he did not play a single match in Bangladesh. He is also a competitive one day playe rand he was sent home. Sarwan for another example. When will the fans get to see Sarwan playing for the WI again? There are a lot of young fast bolwlers who are knocking at the door and I want to know what will it take to introduce these guys in internantional cricket. The problem also lies in regional inclusion where players from the smaller islands are playiing in matches because the venue is at their homeland. The only way to change this is to field two teams, one for tests and one for ODI's fieldig two separate captains. At this moment India might be exploriong these options leaving just the WI to figure this one out.

    I hope this helps the WI administration to focus on this idea. Good Luck.

  • Girik on December 21, 2012, 13:26 GMT

    @Moppa, interesting point about many West Indians moving to basketball as their preferred sport. I personally don't know to what extent that occurs but we all definitely know that athletics has had an effect considering the likes of Bolt and Blake love cricket and may have had fruitful careers but the temptation of being the world's fastest men took them away (among others probably).As the world globalises and a monoculture slowly develops, people from all cricketing countries play a larger variety of sports from childhood. Makes the balance of enticing youngsters through Twenty20 while supporting the longer forms of the game (particularly Tests) all the more difficult!

  • Ben on December 21, 2012, 11:01 GMT

    @Vivthegreatest... while Sammy will never be a world beater, he has given this team something they have lacked for a long while, cohesion. The discipline this team is now showing is as much a reason for their ascent as anything else, and Sammy must be credited somewhat for that. As for you wanting Fidel Edwards in the team, why? He is so hit and miss, and an average of almost 38 after 55 tests is evidence of this (and an economy rate of nearly 4!). Sammy's role isn't as a match-winner. He is the stock bowler that keep on the pressure while others attack at the other end. His job is made harder by bowlers like Edwards waywardness. If the Windies can get Best and Roach bowling consistently well, then Sammy will be the perfect foil, much better than Edwards will ever be.

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