Richie Richardson, the former West Indian captain, has slammed the West Indies Cricket Board for failing to resolve the ongoing sponsorship dispute, and said it was time for business-minded individuals to take over the administration of West Indies cricket.
Referring to the board's decision to sack seven senior players, including Brian Lara, Richardson told The Antigua Sun, "I am not totally surprised, but I am really disappointed. It's really sad. For some of our best players to be fit and not be represented on the West Indies team, is very disappointing and very disturbing."
Teddy Griffith, the board's president, announced last week that seven players, including Lara, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Chris Gayle, would not be considered for selection for the forthcoming series against South Africa and Pakistan, owing to their individual sponsorship deals with Cable & Wireless, a rival of the board's current sponsor Digicel.
Richardson said that the board should have settled the issues a long time ago. "For these things to happen, I think it is really poor. We should be focussing on trying to make sure that West Indies cricket is returned to what it was some time ago and not to be making silly mistakes and having fights between the board and players. It's just going to make things even worse."
This issue first cropped up in December last year, and has not been properly resolved since. "We've had a number of problems over the years, and the game has advanced and we have remained stagnant, if not retrogressed," Richardson continued. "I believe the best thing for West Indies cricket right now is to give somebody who has serious money and who is a serious businessman and who is willing to invest in West Indies cricket and restore it. The biggest downfall in West Indies cricket is the administration.
"I was frustrated with a lot of things as West Indies captain," added Richardson, who led them in 24 Tests. "I just thought when are we going to start realising that everybody is changing and we have got to move with the times?" He also said that the board never respected the players, even dating back to the era of Clive Lloyd, and that "We got the impression then that all that we could do was to play cricket."
Richardson stressed that the game was bigger than everybody, and all that were involved in the current dispute needed to "come together and resolve this".