Clive Lloyd and the Will to Win
Mon, Jan 17, '05
Clive Lloyd is the longest serving and most successful captain of all-time. Appointed to lead the West Indies in Indian and Pakistan in 1974-75, his contribution as a captain and as a batsman was crucial in their success.
Lloyd became captain because he seemed to hold out the promise of the merit and with the greatest potential for leadership on the field, which implies tactics, on and off the field, which means keeping the players together and working in harmony. The purpose of this article, however, is not to highlight Lloyd?s performance-par extraordinaire, but to share with you his thoughts on his role as captain and factors generally affecting West Indies cricket among other things.
I feel more so because of the dwindling fortunes of the West Indies side -- once, the pride and hope of the Caribbean -- over the past few years.
Former West Indian fast bowler Michael Holding, writing in his column in the 1995 edition of the Red Stripe Caribbean Cricket Quarterly says: ?It is no surprise that the sudden erratic West Indies performance should coincide with the general lack of discipline that has crept into the team.? This is after we had lost to the Aussies at home in 1994-95.
Nearly ten years later, Lloyd spoke of the discipline of the team when he was captain and its ?pride, passion and professionalism? and lamented the absence of these qualities in modern times.
?Any time the West Indies lose, I cry,? says Gibbs, who still has West Indies cricket at heart. Poor Lance! He must have been shedding a lot of tears over the years.
Gibbs, who took 309 Test wickets in 79 appearances for the Windies, said a careless approach had cost the tourists dearly. ?I don?t know if these fellas are realizing the pain that they bring to some of the fellas who played this game at the highest level.
?We must take note of this and try and do something better.?
?Losing has become a fine art for the Windies,? says Colin Croft.
?If the West Indies team was not, as a unit, even with Shivnarine Chanderpaul?s excellent efforts, embarrassed at what transpired at Lord?s for the first Test, then they cannot be embarrassed at all. The batting, in parts, was acceptable. The rest simply stunk, for any level of cricket.
Having lost 29 games of the 40-odd played in the last seven years, I would not hold my breath thinking that this recent defeat would make the West Indies any better, any stronger or any more reflective. Losing has become a fine art of the West Indies cricket team and one sometimes wonder if some of the players care at all.
?Stop making excuses,? says Ian Bishop who let fly at the West Indies team, accusing them of performing poorly and then making excuses about the side being inexperienced. Channel Four?s website reported Bishop as saying that, unless the excuses stopped, the team wouldn?t start winning.
Lloyd, the man who had been instrumental in making the West Indies the dominant force in world cricket virtually spent all his life in cricket. ?It has been a fruitful one-there?s no doubt about that!? He doesn?t regret taking up cricket both as a sport and a livelihood. It has given him a lot of insight into different facets of life.
Touring, going to different countries, observing the different cultures, the numerous friends he made are very important. It has been one of the most fulfilling phases of his life. It was the celebrated writer, C.L.R. James, the doyen of cricket writers in his book, ?Beyond A Boundary? wrote: ?What do they know who only cricket know??
Lloyd has known other things beside cricket. Traveling cited Lloyd broadens one?s outlook on life and the cultural side has been excellent. Traveling also has been the main changes in the game of cricket.
There had been many more tours and this has been good for the game. But, in future, thought has to be given to the length of the tours, to be undertaken, as they seem to be getting longer and longer. More games are being filled in and the human body is just taken for granted.
Quite a multitude is following the game of cricket. Lloyd recalls, in Australia 90,000 people at one?s day game, with figure like that-at any sport-it is doing pretty well. Even when we were beating England- so sorry, not any more, it?s pay back time-the English people still came out because they wanted to see a good game and their talent was being displayed and there was such camaraderie-it was excellent. Any sport being played in this manner can go from strength to strength.
The West Indian cricket over the years have been engaged in playing cricket in England and Australia and still play for the Test side when the Test series come along. Lloyd said: ?Most of our players have been exposed to playing in England-either at League or county level-they have become better players.? We can consider this as a plus for our side.
Ninety percent of the West Indies team played county cricket. No so these days. ?I would imagine that this is one of the reasons for the decline in the performance. The fact that they are not exposed to different conditions and different quality of bowlers is basically another good reason why we have not been doing too well. If we were playing competitive cricket, our players would make more runs. No doubt about it. When you?re in England, you get 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. 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.?
?I think England is trying to get rid of most overseas players. We have got to try and keep our West Indies cricket and cricketers alive. We have to maintain our pitches to the first-class level.?
?Captaincy has always been a difficult thing, a different mantle for anyone to wear. The old adage: ?uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. Whenever there is victory, the team comes in for a lot of praise, but when there is defeat, it is the captain who takes the flak.? The judgement one has to exercise with different personalities and the kind of temperament one needs to have, in the West Indies team over the years.
Lloyd, whose captaincy was the hallmark in his illustrious career, led the West Indies in 74 Tests in 18 series over a period of 8 years with 36 victories and remarked that during his team as a player, he had an insight into what captaincy meant, observing all that went on even though it never occurred to him that one day he would be captain.
?When I began my role as captain it wasn?t easy because we were not winning a lot. We were always being watched-what we were doing and, what we would do.?
His tenure of captaincy was punctured by the Kerry Packer ?World Series? cricket crisis, which resulted in his resignation, the first and only occasion that a West Indian captain has withdrawn from leadership while in office. During Lloyd?s absence between March 1978 and December 1979, another Guyanese, diminutive Alvin Kallicharran led the Regional team in nine Tests.
By the time India visited the Caribbean in 1976, West Indies? rehabilitation was under way as Lloyd put complete faith in an all-out pace attack. He became the first captain in the history of Test cricket to employ a four pronged pace attack consistently over a prolonged period. But what is responsible for this strange and welcome transformation is worthwhile mentioning?
The fast bowling syndrome was thrust upon Lloyd because of two significant occasions. First, the West Indies was annihilated by Australia in 1975/76. The people directly responsible for the beating were pacemen, Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thompson, Max Walker and Gary Gilmour.
The West Indies found no quarter and nowhere to hide from those fast bowlers. The Australians won an overwhelming 5-1.
Then in 1976, in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, in the 3rd Test v India, Lloyd and the West Indies gave India 402 runs to make in the second (fourth) innings to win the game. The Queen?s Park Oval is still the best pitch in the Caribbean for spinners.
The three spinners of the team at the time, off-spinner Albert Padmore, orthodox left-arm spinner Raphick Jumadeen and Imtiaz Ali, the back-of-the-arm right hand leg spinner would make no inroads in the Indian batting ending with only two wickets between them. India won by 5 wickets.
Lloyd openly swore that this would never happen again and he would rather die with his fast bowlers. It did not and he did not!
The score line contributed to the remarkable record of eleven consecutive wins that the West Indies secured at that time, and was the crowning glory of Lloyd?s captaincy. The captaincy seemed to add consistency to his batting: he made 12 of his 19 Test centuries as captain.
?I used to embarrass the young players in doing well. When I had my team, I was making runs. I made 12 centuries and was averaging in the 70?s, so the younger player were motivated to do well.?
?The most important factor, I think, is to place trust in your players so that in turn will place trust in you. The most important requirement for a successful captain is respect. I have been rather fortunate that my players have respected me as a man and as a cricketer and consequently as a skipper.
?Assuming the father figure role, so that they could feel free to discuss any aspect of the game with me. At the same time trying to improve their lot monetarily, because they were giving their best part of their lives to the game. Thought not without a certain amount of problems, I have managed to combine these well, and it has come out good in the end.?
Explaining the game and how important it is to the West Indian person-that winning and trying to build would gain them the respect of all-did prove fruitful.
Lloyd advocated sponsorship to write off the little losses and things like the Red Stripe. In that way, we can have better facilities, better cricket grounds, dining and washing rooms.
When asked: ?What do you hold as the New Caribbean Man, not only in terms of leadership but for continued domination in world cricket?? Lloyd asserted: ?What the Caribbean people should look at is that we have a cricket team that played together. We come from different countries, with equally different backgrounds. But as the same time, we should think of togetherness-of playing sports for the West Indies, and living together-a Trinidadian or a Guyanese should be allowed to live in Barbados, if he so wishes. That is the way we should start thinking-togetherness-thinking as one.?
A year or two before he stepped down from the captaincy he was asked what he was bequeathing to West Indies cricket. ?I am bequeathing a type of spirit that was sadly lacking-?The Will To Win?-the will to show the world that we are not just a bunch of calypso people (seems so, with how things are going with the current West Indies side) but people of strong values about life-just like anyone else. Given the opportunity, we can do as well or even better than anyone, anywhere in the world.?
Lloyd?s performance as a Test captain is unrivalled. He skippered West Indies in a record 74 matches, including 26 successive games without defeat. He led them to a record 36 victories, and, on his retirement, Lloyd?s aggregate was second only to Sobers.
In his retirement speech to the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) in April 1985, Lloyd whose 7515 runs, in 110 Test matches for an average of 46.67 with nineteen centuries said that he regarded his career as the ?continuation of the revolution started by Sir Frank Worrell.?
While, according to Joel Garner, one of the perpetual trump cards in Lloyd?s pack: ?Worrell inspired his men, Sobers led mainly by example and Lloyd combined the best features of both.?
Yet, perhaps, the most distinctive aspects of Lloyd?s captaincy, was the rapport he enjoyed with the West Indies public at large. Less detached than some previous captains, he recognized the importance that winning had on the moral of the Caribbean nation.
In his book, ?From Pioneers To Packer,? Clayton Goodwin wrote that Lloyd: ?has apparently stepped straight from the crowds on the terraces, onto the field of play and shares the public?s hopes, their fears and their sentiments.
He opened up the game, when they would, and made mistakes when they would.