Ten Questions for Andy Roberts
Sat, Feb 4, '06
It's not easy to pin down Andy Roberts for an interview. But when you do catch up with him, the ensuing conversation is well worth the effort.
An outspoken businessman who once handled a stint as West Indies head coach, Roberts is now busy helping to organise the Stanford 20/20 tournament, serving as chairman of a Technical Advisory Board made up of 14 West Indies cricket legends.
In this phone conversation with CaribbeanCricket.com, Roberts talks about the progress of plans for the tournament and other matters affecting West Indies cricket...
1. Why Twenty/20?
Why not Twenty/20? Everyone has an opinion on what it should be and what it shouldn't be. But, when you go a first-class match in the region, how many people do you see going to watch the games? How many people are excited to go to a Test match? Go to the Carib Cup games, tell me how big the crowd is. We need to generate some excitement in West Indies cricket. It has to be something new and fresh.
Let me ask you this Ryan, if Mr Stanford said he was starting a new 50-over competition or a new four-day tournament, do you think it would generate the same publicity and anticipation as the Twenty/20? This is the best way to do it at this time.
2. Mikey Holding calls it rubbish cricket...
He's entitled to his opinion. You may think it's rubbish cricket because it's only 20 overs and all the batsmen are slogging. But, the truth is, it's not a slogfest. You might not be able to build an innings like a Test match but it can certainly help a batsman create new ways to push the score along. Didn't they say the same thing about one-day cricket in the 1970s? Well, now when you look back, one-day cricket created improvements to Test cricket.
I don't mind the Twenty/20 concept at all. Give it a chance and it might very well be the thing that revives cricket in the West Indies. I know for a fact it will definitely be one way to bring people back to the cricket ground.
3. What's in it for Stanford?
He is a businessman. His business is finance. He told me that the better West Indies cricket do, the better his business will do. The more people coming into the region means more people will require financial services, which is what he provides. He has an interest in seeing West Indies cricket come back to where it was.
4. Were you surprised by the WICB's initial reaction?
Nothing the WICB does surprises me. But, I'd like to find out who is the WICB that issued that statement. First it was the WICB. Then, it was the individual presidents of the territorial boards. At the same time they were talking about [Stanford] being divisive, all of those territorial boards except for Barbados had submitted plans and were in favour of participating.
I also find it strange that the press release came from the secretariat in Antigua. Did they issue it on behalf of the territorial boards? If it was from the individual presidents, why is the secretariat involved in that. Why can't Jackie [Hendricks] put out a press release from Kingston. All these things are just par for the course with West Indies cricket, nothing surprising.
I'm glad that is behind us now. The WICB has endorsed the tournament and we'll be working together going forward.
5. But, the WICB won't get any of that $28 million in their hands...
There are other ways to help West Indies cricket without giving money to the WICB. Why do people think you need WICB to help develop West Indies cricket. We all know the history of the WICB and money. I am very happy that the WICB is not spending that money.
Look Ryan, I've been involved with West Indies cricket for a very long time. I've been involved with the development unit when we used to get $1.2 million a year to help the territories develop cricket. All we asked was for the territorial boards to send in their programs to draw down on that money. They refused to send in programs. They wanted the money to bypass the development unit and so the board started giving the territories $100,000 a year.
I know for a fact that in the Leeward Islands, that money never went to development. It was spent on everything else but development. How can I be giving you money year after year and nobody knows what you're doing with it.
Now Mr Stanford is saying, OK, tell us how you're spending it. we'll give you the money in installments and we'll follow up to make sure it's going where you say it's going. Development is not for the people at the top. You have to develop your infrastructure where young players can have access to new facilities. You have to take the game away from the traditional areas and into new places to find cricketers.
6. What's wrong with this picture? Here's Stanford distributing US$100,000 to individual territories at the same time the WICB can't find US$135,000 to pay players...
Don't ask me too much about West Indies cricket. When it comes to West Indies cricket and the way the directors have destroyed everything, I don't know. To be honest, I really don't know...
7. How are plans progressing for the Stanford Twenty/20 tournament?
Where we are today is where we thought we'd have been all along. We've starting disbursing money to the northern islands (Bermuda, Jamaica, Cayman and the Bahamas). In the next few weeks, we'll go to the other territories to distribute the money and see first hand how they plan to use it.
You have to remember it's a two-fold program. You have local/regional Twenty/20 tournament. After that, there will be a Caribbean superstar team playing against an international team. A lot of money is going into that second phase. The plans are coming along nicely for everything.
8. World Cup 2007 is just over a year away. How are those plans coming along?
The Stanford Cricket Ground [near the Antigua airport] will be ready for the Twenty/20 tournament. We'll have brand new facilities. Brand new pitches. A newly relaid outfield. new floodlights. New scoreboards...
9. I asked about World Cup 2007...
I better not speak on that issue. The less I say about the World Cup, the better.
10. Word association time: Ken Gordon?
Never met the man.
The plans for a Clive Lloyd cricket committee?
To be honest, I don't know what good that will be. We had [WICB] directors who thought very little of the cricket committee in the past. They were full of themselves. They acted like they knew everything and ended up proving that they didn't now anything. They ignored everything coming out of the cricket committee and look at what happened. West Indies cricket has not only reached a cliff, it has fallen off the cliff and can't find a foot to stand on.
All these new plans don't mean anything to me. I've seen this stuff before, year after year. Who says Clive Lloyd will have the time to do it? Who says he'll have the personnel? He can't do it himself and, even if he could, will the directors start acting on recommendations all of a sudden? I don't have high hopes.
BONUS QUESTION: There are elections scheduled for the LICA (Leeward Islands Cricket Association] presidency this weekend. Your expectations?
Just one comment: Nobody wants the top position. Because if anyone had wanted it, Carlisle [Powell] won't be president. He would have been removed a long time ago. That's all I have to say.
* Andy Roberts was the first Antiguan to play for the West Indies team. He played in 47 Tests as a fast bowler in Clive Lloyd's all-conquering side, finishing with 202 wickets at 25.61 apiece.