An emotional Vivian Richards, who resigned as chief selector of West Indies a few days ago, has spoken out in anguish about the players' "lack of fight, commitment and passion". He spoke about the legacy of West Indian cricket, and of how the current team seemed not just unconcerned, but actually unaware of it.
"We [West Indians] are very passionate about our team and the legacy of [the] great players who have representated West Indies proudly," he said, according to a report in the London Mail on Sunday. "But there are a lot of people who felt that wasn't the case with the present mob. We need to instill in some of the younger players the respect for what their cricket legacy is all about.
"Let the guys at the academy watch tapes of some of the great players of the past until they fall asleep," he continued, "and then wake them up again and say: 'This is what you are representing and this is how we want you to go about representing it.' There is no doubt that we have some ability, but it is no good having two good days and then not turning up for the other three."
Richards's resignation was triggered by West Indies' 0-3 loss to England recently, which left him shattered - no surprise, given that he was the pivot of Clive Lloyd's legendary West Indian team of the 1970s and '80s, one of the greatest sides of all time, and then captained West Indies himself with a fair degree of success. As a player, he helped his side administer a few whitewashes, but was never on the receiving end of one.
"I'm not taking anything away from England, who were very well organised," he said. "But to try to hold on to such a prestigious record, you expect a certain amount of spirit, passion and fight - and those things were missing from the West Indies team."
In his time as captain, Richards would have dealt with indiscipline with an iron fist, but Brian Lara, West Indies' captain, was given to a softer approach, which reportedly led to a rift between the two (though Richards recently denied any schism). He was reportedly furious when some of the players attended a sponsor's party immediately after the team was skittled out for 47 in the first Test, but the players did not appreciate being told off by him. Dinanath Ramnarine, the president of the players' association, recently remarked that some of the players had been "verbally belittled and threatened in public by selectors", an allegation that Richards dismissed as "ludicrous".
Richards also had some gentle advice for Lara. "By coming back to score 400 in the last Test after being given a working-over by [Steve] Harmison, Brian showed his greatness as a player. But he must also be a motivator, not just for the few hours of [the] match, but to lead from the very top, to take control of situations.
"It is up to him to inspire his players for the task ahead. It is his duty."