Test team should build around Chanderpaul - Gibbs
Former West Indies offspinner, Lance Gibbs, believes that the West Indies need to build their current team around Shivnarine Chanderpaul, the West Indies batsman, if Test success is to come into the frame once more, as November's India tour looms.
Gibbs indicated that Chanderpaul's experience and talent are the right ingredients to nourish younger batsmen such as Kirk Edwards and Darren Bravo in the subcontinent. "Chanderpaul is one of our premier batsmen - the premier [one] actually," Gibbs said. "We need to bat around him and mature these inexperienced players in his presence. That maturity is not there right now but, as with many teams, we all have our ups and downs, but now we need to turn that proverbial corner which everyone always speaks of, every time we do well."
He backed Darren Sammy as Test skipper but noted that for Dwayne Bravo to continue the strides of West Indies' T20 world title last year, and in hopes of improving their results in the 50-over game, Bravo needs to improve as limited-overs skipper. "Dwayne tries to do too much. He needs to focus on certain areas and not try to do so much. We saw his death bowling exposed in the CPL, but I have faith in him as much as I know Sammy will deliver in India. The squad's a good mix. Hungry and young too."
With the likes of Kirk Edwards and Narsingh Deonarine impressing during the present A team tour in India, Gibbs reiterated that there was a good blend of youth and experience in the Sammy-led 15-man squad, which also faces New Zealand in a hectic run-in to end 2013.
"We haven't played Tests in a while but the state of our cricket and Test team isn't too bad. Zimbabwe and Bangladesh were good to practice against in the last year, and we did improve. Each nation goes through these motions in the sport and we as a team need to move from strength to strength. Let's play good cricket and get the fundamentals right. You can see a team like England and say they're the best, but it's only in the past few years they've stepped up so I'm confident in the Windies."
When asked if T20 cricket had hampered the progress and development of the region's youngsters, and even star players such as Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine, Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo, he said that players should play all disciplines. With the aforementioned players still to make Test waves in recent months, Gibbs added that he didn't think the lore of Tests or romance of ODI cricket had dissipated. "It's an evolution of the game. Test cricket is the ultimate, but we have to roll with the times for the sake of the crowds. T20 has given exciting cricket as seen in the IPL and CPL, but remember, Test cricket stands on its own."
"We all start off in the Caribbean playing 10, 20 or 40-overs, then we develop our 50-over game, our county cricket and as first-class players. Things change and we can't look back, only forward. Players make a living from this now and back in the day, footballers, cricketers, boxers and such were barely making money but now, all kinds of sports are lucrative once you have the talent."
He indicated that once the talismans of the sport gave back to the game, things would bode well. He referenced the CPL's youngsters rubbing shoulders with various West Indies and international stars, which acted as a nursery to their learning and growth earlier this year. "CPL had stars from Pakistan, Bangladesh and New Zealand come over so I think we're well-prepped for what's to come ahead."
West Indies will play two Tests and three ODIs, with the first Test match set to start on November 6.
Renaldo Matadeen is a sportswriter and social media manager for ESPN Caribbean. He tweets here