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January 26, 2008
Even as stand-in captain Dwayne Bravo was seeing his side come off second best to South Africa in the second one-day international in Cape Town, two legends of West Indies cricket were divided over the future of the captaincy.
According to Sir Viv Richards, Chris Gayle, who has won praise from manager Clive Lloyd for the way he led the team in the Test series defeat against the hosts, cannot get his vote just yet.
"I think the jury would be still out at this stage," he told the Express, explaining his misgivings about Gayle. "The team looks to be responding to Gayle...I thought when he was a player and you had other captains, there were times where he just looked...like he wasn't quite in touch. But now, there is an alertness about him. I've always felt to be in that [captaincy] position, you had to be a supportive soldier before."
Richards did concede, however, that "he looks to be comfortable with the individuals. Him being in a responsible position, you may get the very best out of Gayle".
But Richards' former teammate, Michael Holding, was in no doubt about what the West Indies selectors should do. "In my opinion, if I was a selector, I wouldn't have a problem. The captain would be Chris Gayle," he said. "I think everyone knows I was championing for Ramnaresh Sarwan to be captain and he was eventually appointed captain. But Sarwan has had injuries, Gayle has come in, has done a very good job. I see no problem with Gayle continuing in that job and Sarwan being vice-captain."
Holding also did not feel a Gayle appointment would cause friction within the ranks with Sarwan, who was unavailable for the tours of Zimbabwe and South Africa, due to injury. "I know a little bit about the guys who are playing for West Indies...I don't think it would be a problem because Gayle and Sarwan are very good personal friends, so I don't see it being a conflict where that is concerned.
"The rest of the Caribbean and the public in general might think there might be some conflict there, but I don't think there will be a conflict for the two gentlemen. And I don't think, on a matter of principle, there is anything wrong with keeping Gayle as captain."
Holding could not identify why exactly Gayle has had the impact he has had thus far. "I never saw Gayle to be an effective leader, [but] obviously he's doing something right. I'm not on tour with them to see what the guys are doing or how effective he is in the meetings and or in the relationship with the team. But you can see a chemistry there. There is a chemistry there, the guys are reacting to him, they respect him, he respects them. And if it's working, why change it?"
As for West Indies as a whole, a cautious Holding said he saw signs that real change may be coming. "I think there is a chance of that [losing situation] being stablised," he said. "People keep on talking about turning the corner... We have turned so many corners over the last ten years, I can't be bothered with that. What we need is some stability. What we need is a leveling off. And what I have seen, there seems to be some sort of, if not a leveling off, a slowing down of the decline and that is what you're looking for."
© Trinidad & Tobago Express