Sir Vivian Richards believes that complacency cost England dear in their recent Test series in the Caribbean, as West Indies held onto their 1-0 lead to reclaim the Wisden Trophy for the first time in nine years.
"It appeared to me that England came out to the Caribbean this time, and felt they could take West Indies for granted," Richards said in a column for the Johnny Walker Know Your Boundaries campaign. "From my experience, [complacency] is always a recipe for disaster, thinking you have a game or a series won before it is played."
Though the series ultimately went down to the wire, with England falling just two wickets short of victory on the final day in Trinidad, the application shown by West Indies impressed Richards, who famously never lost a series during his time as captain between 1985 and 1991.
"I was happy to see that West Indies stuck to their task throughout the series, and though England came at them hard, they responded strongly each and every time," he said. "For most of them, it was, perhaps, the first time they have experienced winning a Test series against a big side in the world of cricket, and so they should remember this feeling, remember what they did to achieve, and try to do it more consistently in the future."
"It got a little too close for comfort at the end, but I am glad to see that West Indies continued to show the fight and the character they have exemplified throughout this series," he said. "Twenty20 may be the new cricket craze, but there is nothing like winning a Test match or a Test series, and I hope the West Indies players savour it and recall it every time they step out onto the field in the future."
Richards was particularly impressed with Ramnaresh Sarwan, who scored more than 600 runs in the series including a career-best 291 at Bridgetown. "He's never batted so well before in his life, and it is a series, I believe, he will remember for a long time. No matter how good the pitches might have been in this series, some of the totals that England posed were pretty intimidating, and he was chiefly responsible for West Indies putting them in their true perspective."
Despite the euphoria of a first series victory since 2004, Richards expressed his regret that there weren't more locals in the grounds to witness the team's achievement. "The England supporters, as they usually do, travelled in large numbers, and outnumbered West Indies supporters in most cases," he said. "Maybe, some people are still disenchanted with the team, and adopted a wait-and-see approach, but I thought following the win in Jamaica, this would have encouraged a lot more people to attend the matches.
"But I think winning this series would change some of their attitudes, and they would start believing in the players a little bit more, and we will begin seeing a lot more bums on seats in the future."