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Don’t Test Lara’s standing, look inward

It is necessary to instill cohesion, professionalism and discipline in the West Indies team to get better results, writes Viv Richards.

india Updated: Apr 19, 2007 01:24 IST

The exit of the West Indies from the World Cup has been a great blow to the people of the region. There is a slew of e-mails to various newspapers as well as call-ins on television and radio shows asking for answers about the spiritless performance the hosts put up in the Super Eight. Everybody is seeking answers for what happened in the World Cup, but I am skeptical about whether those in the board have the ability or the right to provide these answers.



I am still at a loss about why the West Indies performance was so listless in the big games of the tournament. The players seemed to be under some tremendous mental stress and at no point did the team look like they had the mental aspect of the game, the self-belief, required to win. The team looked less like a unit, and more like 11 individuals who had no gameplan in the middle. This is particularly unfortunate considering the team had been playing quite well of late and had even reached the finals of the Champions Trophy.



The immediate fallout has been the retirement of Brian Lara from one-day cricket, and there is some talk about whether he should be persisted with in the Tests. My questions is this: Are those who are deciding on Brian Lara’s future worthy of making such a decision? Should they not be held accountable for their inability to produce a team that was motivated and committed enough to compete in this event? Their inability to enforce discipline among the players and their insular attitude that is unmindful of the strides taken by other teams has to be questioned.



There is a road ahead, but are the leaders of West Indian cricket capable of navigating that road? As far as Brian is concerned, I am sure he will be the first to admit that he did make some tactical errors in the tournament. His decision to enforce power play between the 45th and 49th over against South Africa was particularly baffling. I also agree with the system of holding the captain responsible for the team, whether in good times or in bad. However, to jettison him will not get you the results. The rot starts from much higher, and it’s necessary to completely overhaul the system.



As things stand, the West Indian team lacks cohesion, professionalism and discipline. A team like Bangladesh, who are the babies of international cricket, have more cohesion on the field than the West Indies. They have passion, spirit and their discipline is reflected in their fielding. All this is lacking in the West Indies at the moment. The fielders look distracted and there is simply no support for a bowling attack that needs good fielding to back it. This is serious cause for concern. The hosts may win against Bangladesh and England to restore pride. There are individuals in the team who are hurting at the moment. However, even if they win the games on Thursday and against England, they might not win over too many people. Fans will merely see as a spray of bullets long after the war is lost.



As a cricketer from a successful era of West Indian cricket, it pains me to see the current state of affairs. However, I have burnt my fingers once while trying to help the board with the team. I cannot be answerable to a set of people whom I consider incapable of making decisions. I would love to help, but the set-up has to be forward thinking and progressive, not as insular and narrow-minded as it is at present.