Comprehensive plan needed for WI cricket – Sir Richie Richardson

         Sir Richie Richardson

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Former West Indies captain Sir Richie Richardson has urged Cricket West Indies (CWI) to come up with a comprehensive development plan to channel the region’s “immense talent” and transform West Indies into a competitive side.

Any such plan, Sir Richie contended, required the input of all stakeholders, especially if CWI wanted to establish “a strong cricketing culture” from the elite level to the grassroots stages and to ensure long term success.

“Quite often we focus on the end product, and the end product is the players. It is very easy to look at the players – and I can understand that – and criticise and see where they are going wrong,” Sir Richie told Starcom Radio’s Mason and Guest cricket show.

“We have to find a way to recreate a strong cricketing culture and how we’re going to do this is that it will take a concerted effort by the entire region, not just cricket boards but schools, parents, communities.

“We have to find a way to come together again. Someone has got to put a structure in place and I think that CWI has that responsibility to put that structure in place and work with all the other stakeholders.”

He continued: “You have to have a system from (CWI) right down to schools cricket. Once we can get that going and get everybody on the same page working together from the grassroots right through, I believe we can start to see a chance.

“It’s not going to be easy but I believe it can be done because our talent is immense; our talent is embedded in our genes and nobody can take that away from us. It’s for us now to harness that talent, pull it together and find a system to bring that talent through.”

Sir Richie, who now serves as an International Cricket Council (ICC) match referee, was a member of the last dominant West Indies side. He made his debut in 1983 in a side captained by the great Sir Clive Lloyd and played alongside the likes of Sir Vivian Richards, Michael Holding and Malcolm Marshall.

By the time he had played his last Test 12 years later, the Caribbean side were showing signs of decline and have since tumbled from the pinnacle of world cricket.

Sir Richie, a former West Indies team manager, said he believed there was a path back to the top for the former world-beaters but the process would be a strategic and gradual one, requiring lots of investment.

“There’s always light at the end of the tunnel. If you don’t think there’s light at the end of the tunnel then you’re wasting your time,” he pointed out.

“I’ve always said the world is a round place. We’ve had our time and I’m sure it will come back again, maybe not as soon as we’d expect and we may not be the same, but as human beings we always want to be the best we can. We’re going to be trying to improve at all times.

“People in authority are going to try to do the things that can improve our game and I believe once we rally together, keep believing we can be better, invest in the players, invest in the young players, invest in a proper development system, then I can see our team becoming competitive again.

“I’m sure once we put all the right things in place, develop a strong culture again from the grassroots right through then I believe we can be very competitive again.”

West Indies are currently ranked eighth in Tests – only above Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and Ireland – and ninth in One-Day Internationals.

They are reigning Twenty20 world champions but have slumped to 10th in the world since that conquest in India four years ago.