Reprint: Clive Lloyd Unplugged
Wed, Jun 23, '04
by RYAN PATRICK
Back in 1999, when Clive Lloyd was manager of the West Indies team, I interviewed him on a range of topics related to cricket administration in the region. Re-reading that interview can be an eerie experience.
In this Q&A, which CaribbeanCricket.com is republishing in its entirety, Lloyd talks about his frustrations with the West Indies Cricket Board, the lack of proper training facilities, Brian Lara's captaincy and the future of West Indies cricket. He could have been talking today...
Without a doubt, we need to catch up with the rest of the world in the field of technology. We need video equipment at all our venues in the Caribbean. It is also important to complement the technology with a good coach. So the coaches have got to be people who know the game and are able to analyse the video tapes and pick out faults. The good coach knows what to leave alone. At the same time, he must be able to identify players' faults and find ways to correct them.
It is important that that we have a cricket academy to deal with all the other aspects of a cricketers' life. His education needs to move along with his cricket and the Academy can help with that. These days, when a youngster goes on tour and makes a hundred, he is put in front of the television cameras immediately. They must know how to answer questions in a professional manner. It is the whole thinking about our cricket. Our players come through very quickly so they don't pass through all these phases like the other countries. And, in most cases, they are unprepared for the demands of the international game. The academy should be for kids from the age of 12. So that by the time the player makes the Test team, he is the real deal. He is totally prepared for everything that comes along with it.
We need to do full medicals will all our players. I'm talking about complete medical checks that go through everything. Heart, eyes, lungs, blood pressure... everything. Because, if you're not physically fit, you're never going to succeed. Cricket is a high-pressure game. You're under pressure all the time. So, we need to do medicals on our players all year-round. We need to limit the stress that players are exposed to. At the end of the tour, there should be another check up to make sure our players are at their peak health-wise. If we had such a thing, maybe the situation with Malcolm Marshall might have been detected earlier.
These things are important things that we are not doing. I plan to write a paper on this issue and present it to the (West Indies) Board calling for complete fitness checks for all the players.
After the One-Day competition in Canada earlier this year, you called for a full-time physiotherapist to accompany the team on all tours. Will there be a full-time physio for the New Zealand tour?
These guys always do things too late (shrug). Why I called for a full-time physio is because if the physio tells me a bowler has a strained muscle, I'm thinking a strain will take him a week to be ready to play. Then I find out that it is a wrong diagnosis, it is a tear and it means he can't play for two months, so that messes up my situation. How can we plan for a series when we can't even diagnose the injuries on tour? That is what I'm talking about. We have got to be professional.
If you expect the players to be professional it has to start at the very top. To tell you the truth, I only said yes to being the manager a few days ago. I was at one stage thinking not to go on with this thing any longer. I have to be honest and say this - a lot of people don't know what I have to put up with. People feel that because I'm Clive Lloyd, I'm going to wave a magic wand and everything will be fixed. But, it doesn't work that way.
We have players who do not have a first class hundred in the team. There is no way you can play for any team, even Kenya, if you don't have a first class hundred. So, it shows you the depths to which we have gone. Powell has gone one century, Hinds has one century. These guys couldn't get into the Zimbabwe team. What we have is a bunch of youngsters learning the trade on the job. That makes it doubly hard for all of us. These guys have flaws and faults that need rectifying and we can't rectify them on tour.
There is no longer a wealth of batting talent in the West Indies. Why is this?
When I retired, I felt we didn't do the things we should have done. We should have been preparing for the future by working on the youths. Now, we have to play a fellow like (Ramnaresh) Sarwan who has the ability but he doesn't have a hundred. He has been around a long time but he has not put up a single big score. I'm not writing him off but someone has to take him in hand and work with him. There is no use saying he's got the ability. There must be a reason he is not making runs when he gets the chance. We have to fix that.
You have constantly called for more involvement in the selection process. You want to be more involved in the day-to-day structure. How is that working out?
My contract more or less says I'm to work on the development of cricket in the region. But half of the things I'm supposed to do haven't been done. I'm told I can't be a selector because I don't live in the West Indies. Well, I'm been living overseas for 30 years and was captain of the West Indies during those years. We have a physio who lives in Australia. But, they say I can't be a selector. To me, all those things are a slap in my face - I can't stand the system under which I have to work. I am very frustrated with the way things are set up, and a lot of people are blaming me for things for which I have no jurisdiction over.
I don't have a say in picking any of the teams. They had the one-day tournament (Red Stripe Bowl) in the Caribbean recently and I wasn't even invited. Now, if we have to play a one-day tournament, they will have to give me a side that I know nothing about. Now, I'm the manager of the team and I'm not part of the discussions to select the side. Now, I'm on tour with a bunch of fellows who I'm seeing for the first time. They will tell me that so-and-so batted well but, as the manager, you want to see how they handled pressure situations to make decisions on tour. So, it is very frustrating.
I was offered the contract for the New Zealand tour and after much thought, I decided to have another go at it. It is only until January 2000, so I'll see how it goes. But, I was on the verge of saying I've had enough.
On the same note, the Board's Cricket Committee is facing the same frustrations, complaining about being ignored on cricket issues. It seems to be a circle of the same frustrations...
If you have a cricket committee, you have to allow the committee to do its work. Anything about cricket has to go through that committee. I worked on numerous such committees in England and the system worked because the cricket committee made the cricket decisions. If they make the decisions, those decisions should stand. I don't know what the problem is - there might be people there (in the Board) who want to wield the power. It might simply be a power thing, who knows?
Even the Malcolm Marshall situation. He was the coach and a selector. Then, all of a sudden, he wasn't the selector anymore. Nobody told him why even though his contractual arrangements said that he should be a selector. But that is how they do things. It is frustrating and heartbreaking for me because no one wants to win more than I do. But, when I have little control over things and then have to take the blame, that is a bitter pill to swallow. I don't know if people think that I love the fact that the team is being beaten.
When you captained the West Indies team, your guys had that fire and pride out on the field. It seems we don't have a bunch of players with the same fire these days...
When I was captain, our players had discipline. We played with pride, passion and professionalism. I used to embarrass the young players into doing well. When I had my team, I was making runs. I made 12 centuries and was averaging in the 70s so the younger players were motivated to do well.
Another thing that has destroyed our cricket is that we don't have a lot of our batsmen playing any meaningful cricket. Take Chanderpaul for instance, he hardly plays at home in Guyana. He plays when he likes. He gives up his wicket easily. So, while the team is idle, he is sitting around and not playing any meaningful cricket. Then, he arrives on tour without proper preparation and he is not getting runs.
Then he tells me it is raining in Guyana. Well, that is not a valid excuse. I told him: Go play in Barbados, Trinidad so you can get some practice in match situations... He didn't play any form of top class cricket after the World Cup and that is why he hasn't' been making runs... he's got the ability but the attitude must be fixed.
People like to say that I inherited a good team back in the 1980s but they forget that all the great ones played their first Test matches with me. They were brought along. Greenidge had never played a Test. Richards never played any Test match. They were making low scores but we stuck with them and they were developed into great batsmen.
Back in the early 1980s, our young players were all playing professional cricket in the leagues in England. Ninety percent of the West Indies team played County Cricket. Not so these days. Is this one reason for the decline in the performances?
Yes, I definitely think so. The fact that they are not exposed to different conditions and different quality bowlers is one of the reasons we have not been doing too well. If we were playing competitive cricket, our players would be making more runs. No doubt about it. When you're in England, you get about six innings in a week.
You develop a professional attitude. When these guys stay in the Caribbean, they play only on weekends. Sometimes, if it rains, they don't play any cricket for two-three weeks. They don't have indoor net sessions. They don't have bowling machines in the Caribbean. So, our guys are less prepared than all the other players. I have been recommending that our guys try to get professional contracts somewhere to play more meaningful cricket when the West Indies team is not playing.
There has been some talk recently about two separate captains for the Test and One-Day teams. Some even suggested that the captaincy be rotated to relieve Brian Lara of the responsibilities. What are your views on this?
I don't see any problems with a single captain for both teams. Australia started that experiment because their Test captain at that time (Mark Taylor) was not too much of a one-day player. It worked for them at that time. But, we don't really need separate captains. Our captain is an excellent one-day player. Brian has got a lot of runs in one-day cricket.
We must realise that Brian does not have a lot of talented cricketers around him. And that is the situation he is exposed to. At the end of the day, they will look at his record and judge him. But, I think that would be unfair to him. Because, no one is going to look at the team he had to work with. That is why it is important that we do something to surround him with the players to help him win.
Carl Hooper recently spoke about a possible comeback to international cricket. Is this something you welcome?
I don't think he should have left in the first place. It was a bit unfortunate that he retired. He had his reasons so we have to respect that. But, Hooper is a class player and to replace such an experienced player would take quite a long time. If we had Hooper for the World Cup, I have no doubt we would have qualified for the final rounds. We won the same amount of games like the other qualifiers but our run-rate was slow. And, I think our run-rate was slow because we did not have Carl Hooper in the line-up to force the pace. I would welcome him back in a heartbeat. Perhaps the second time around we will get the best out of him. He is still the best player of spin we have around. Probably the best player of spin bowling in the world. You can't give away that sort of talent. We tried to talk him out of retiring but he had already made up his mind.
Can you talk a bit about the future fast bowling replacements for Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh. There have been criticisms that you have been shuffling them in and out of the team without giving them a chance to prove their worth. How do you respond to this?
We have only been shuffling them in and out of the team because we still have Ambrose and Walsh who are very great bowlers. Even in one-day cricket, these two are among the best in the world. Now is the chance for these guys to show what they have.
We are going to New Zealand and Ambrose is not there. So, now is their time to show what mettle they have. This is a big test for some of the younger fast bowlers. This is the challenge. They have to step up and take advantage of Ambrose's absence. If these youngsters feel they should always be in the team, they have to go out there, take the ball, and do great things. Malcolm Marshall was on the fringe when Roberts and Holding were the main bowlers. But, Marshall was confident about his ability. When he got the chance, he proved that he belonged. So, it is up to these guys to say "Here is my chance. Let me run with it".
These bowlers must step up and let us know that we can't drop them from the team. That is the attitude and mindset I am looking for. Walsh and Ambrose have more than 700 wickets between them. They are certainly coming to the end of their careers and we need replacements very soon.
What about your fellow Guyanese Reon King? Is he the real deal?
He is a good cricketer. He has been working hard for a while now. His problem is that he is not steady enough. He is very sporadic. King needs to work on picking a line and bowling consistently on that line. He is quick and gets a bit of movement. If he gets it together and bowls consistently, he should be around for a while.
But, all our bowlers must learn to bat. Our tail-enders in the 80s used to give us 150 runs easily. We didn't have one-dimensional cricketers. These days, we don't have bowlers who can bat so our tail is very long. They must go in the nets and work on their batting. We are looking for bowlers who are going to win games for us. If we find a spinner who can be a match-winner, he must play. In my time, if I had a Shane Warne or a Saqlain Mushtaq, they would have had to play every game. It just happened that our fast bowlers were doing the job. But, we must look all around the barrel to find out what will win games for us. It is all about the resources available to us.
The New Zealand tour is no longer an easy stop on the professional circuit. With such an inexperienced West Indies team, how do you rate your chances?
I think we have to be at the top of our game if we want to be successful. Like you said, it is no longer easy. New Zealand just beat England. England then beat South Africa so, there is no such thing as an easy tour anymore. They have a lot of talent and ability. New Zealand has a lot of good all-rounders. And, that might be the difference. Their bowlers can bat and their batsmen can bowl too. So, they are not one-dimensional. They are playing at home and that is always tough. It will not be as easy as people think. We have to work hard and our young batsmen have got to put down their heads. These guys have to set individual goals and go out there and work hard.
Are professional cricketers playing too much cricket these days?
It is tough. Up to when we went to Canada this summer, India had played 52 one-day games on the trot. That is a lot of cricket. And, sometimes it shows in the performances. These players are tired and jaded. The ICC needs to have a better structure to ensure the players get proper rest in between tours.
Courtney Walsh will likely break the world record for Test wickets on the New Zealand tour. Can you talk about Walsh and his contributions to West Indies cricket?
That will be one of the highlights of the tour for me, personally. I'm glad I'll be there when he breaks the record. I was there from the inception. He played his first Test match for me. I was there when he broke Marshall's record for the most wickets by a West Indian and I'm looking forward to it very much. He is a warrior. Courtney is a trooper. He is probably the closest to Malcolm Marshall in terms of match-winning performances. He is a work-horse. A hell of a nice guy and has always worn the West Indies maroon cap with pride.
He wears his heart on his sleeve and you couldn't ask for a better cricketer, really. A great, great teammate. He would bowl fast from the beginning to the end and at the end of the game. He seems to be getting better as he gets older. He is very accurate and he is a good thinker and he will be very difficult to replace. They can talk all they want about the youngsters that we have but, from what I've seen, I don't see any of them with the great cricketing brain like a Courtney Walsh or a Malcolm Marshall. They will probably develop that later in their career but, they don't have that spark in their eyes that Walsh and Marshall had when they were that same age.
You don't seem too high on the young crop of fast bowlers?
I'm hoping for the best from them. If I was a fast bowler in this team, I'd be seeking advice and help from Ambrose and Walsh on a daily basis. I'd be questioning them on every aspect of the game. They do to an extent but, when they go out there, you don't see them with that same professional approach. Look at the wides that we gave away in the last few one-day tournaments. That must not happen. The bowlers need to work those things out. We are at the back of the line where the technology is concerned. All the other teams are moving ahead. We are just standing around and looking on.
Look at the Red Stripe Bowl recently. There were no big scores. Our one-day tournament needs to be a big thing. We play one or two games a year and that's that. We should make it a big deal. It should be home-and-away and it should be an important part of our cricket. If we want to win World Cups, we must treat one-day cricket as important and Test matches.
You will be teaming up on this trip to New Zealand with Viv Richards as your coach. What can we expect from Richards as coach?
I'm sure he won't suffer fools gladly. He is a guy who wants to win and wants to win badly. When he was my vice-captain we worked together very well, and when he took over the team and I came back as manager we had a great relationship. I feel that he will want to pull it together. But, like I said earlier, don't expect miracles. We must remember that the talent is not there. We have a couple of good new guys bursting out on the scene and this might be the turning point.
Viv will definitely work hard and instill a level of pride into these youngsters. He is a tough guy when it comes to working hard and giving of your best and that might be the best thing for these younger players who are now coming along. I look forward to the tour. As a player, Viv Richards was the most confident batsman around. He dictated the pace of the game. I'm hoping that confidence will rub off on this team. I'm looking forward to working with him.
We're not going to New Zealand to lose that series. We are looking to win. But, we need to have support for Brian Lara. We need guys who will go out there and put their minds to the task and work and work hard. It is a short series so these guys need to snatch these opportunities.