A boost for West Indies cricket

ON a recent visit, the `Super cat' of West Indies went around the Press Club of Mumbai, looked over the fence at the Bombay Gymkhana, right across the Azad Maidan and asked: "Is this the ground from where all the cricketers come from?

G. VISWANATH

ON a recent visit, the `Super cat' of West Indies went around the Press Club of Mumbai, looked over the fence at the Bombay Gymkhana, right across the Azad Maidan and asked: "Is this the ground from where all the cricketers come from? I remember playing squash at the Bombay Gymkhana." Well, Clive Hubert Lloyd, is used to coming to Mumbai, a city where he has plenty of admirers and friends, No. 1 being one `Sunny' Gavaskar.

Former West Indian captain Clive Lloyd who was in Mumbai recently. -- Pic.S. SUBRAMANIUM-

Before he settled down for an interview, Lloyd talked about the Leeds ground, bowlers with suspect actions and said: "I think the authorities should have a special panel to look into video tapes of bowlers with suspect actions from all the countries and decide the course of action. Excerpts:

Question: Ten Sports has signed up with the West Indies Cricket Board. What are the benefits that will accrue?

Answer: According to me, Ten Sports has made a very good move in the sense that West Indies cricket looks to be on the up. They did extremely well in a couple of Test matches against Australia. Ten Sports has timed it well and it will give West Indies cricket the lift it needs. Suddenly there will be lot of good teams in the West Indies and lot of cricketers seen in the next five or six years.

Will all the island nations get a share of this money? The Indian Board distributes a percentage of television rights money to its affiliated units.

I presume exactly as it is believed. The money will be used to improve our cricket, generally the infrastructure. The players are being paid pretty well I think. In the Caribbean you have to fly from one island to another. You cannot drive from one island to another. It's very expensive. So our cricket does need this sort of injection of money. I am sure they will use it to their advantage.

Now with the World Cup to be played there in 2007, we need to upgrade the facilities and we have to make it a world-class event. And with Ten Sports coming, there is an excellent opportunity to improve everything connected with cricket.

What's your perspective on West Indies cricket following its performance against Australia?

We actually needed another batsman against Australia. Probably with Carl Hooper, we could have run them closer, or maybe won another Test match. But I must say, they did not look too bad, the youngsters are coming through. But then we have to get that consistency. We have to see how they go in the couple of series this winter and see how they measure up and then probably we can make guesswork of what's happening.

It appeared Brian Lara was keen and eager to set things right. He took a major share of the responsibility.

Oh yes, he realised the importance of doing well. It was his second stint around as captain. He is not getting any younger and he needs to be there for the sake of the youngsters and for West Indies cricket of course. He is still a tremendous cricketer and he understands his position. He is showing maturity and batting with authority. He is stamping his class in the side. Brian Lara in good form is a match winner for any side.

Do you think West Indies cricket made the right decision with Lara?

Well, don't forget that Carl Hooper took charge and did very well. There is no doubt about that. The way he left was not the best way. It was not a very good situation. He was an integral part of that side. He could bat, bowl and catch well. But that happened and we had to move on. You don't replace a player like Carl so easily.

Well, two things have happened in West Indies cricket. Sir Viv Richards became the Chairman of selectors and Gus Logie was appointed coach. Your comments

Gus did a lot of work with the youngsters. He had some hand in most of the guys who are in the team now. He is doing quite well. He knows the run of things. I don't see anything wrong in his appointment. He will be judged by how well the team performs in the coming tours.

Viv has always been a rather forthright person. He is very strong and speaks his mind and probably the West Indies cricket needed somebody like him who will give the players the impetus that is needed. Yes, I think he is an excellent choice.

Recently Sunil Gavaskar raised the issue of sledging at the Colin Cowdrey Memorial Lecture.

Sledging is in the code of conduct. A player can be fined and can be banned from matches. So it is not something that's acceptable. Well, there are lot of people, the youngsters especially, watching Test matches and we want them to inculcate the right sort of attitude.

Sledging is something we won't tolerate.

What was it like when you led the team against Ian Chappell's side in the 1970s?

Well, we did not have any problem because they would have found it very difficult to swear against Joel Garner who was seven foot something. We did not need to do that anyway, I would not have tolerated such things anyway. We had one problem in New Zealand (Michael Holding kicking the stumps), which was a bit unfortunate. I have apologised for that many times.

From that tour people realised that we need better officials out there. You have great referees in football. It needs to happen in cricket because it's our living and if you are having a bad official giving you out when you are not out, you can be dropped and lose your livelihood. So we need the best people to officiate. We are changing all the time; we have a panel of eight best umpires in the World. They have to be at their best most of the time; it's their livelihood, too.

But probably it went out of control with Glenn McGrath and Ramnaresh Sarwan.

Well, it's again up to the umpires and the Match Referee. I don't want to blame anybody. We can give judgment on what we saw on television.

Do you think the umpires should be allowed to refer the ` nick' decisions to the third umpire?

What this means is bringing in different technology and all that. Probably the next thing could be the umpire wired up to the stump camera so that he could hear that ` nick'. It might help, but then again it will be like putting pressure on the umpire. I think the only aid is the batsman walking when he `nicks' it. These days it doesn't happen. Players hit the ball to second slip and stand there with hope! We don't have the technology good enough to see a ball cleanly taken yet. Until then, we have to just go along with what we have. But it's just the honesty of the players that matters.

During your last visit to Mumbai you said that Bangladesh should be allowed to field two ` foreign' cricketers who have played Test cricket. Recently Ian Chappell concurred with your view.

The point is that once you decide to get into that arena then you should be amply served in all the departments of the game. You should have the facilities, cricketers, umpires and everything in place before you are accepted. But in order to keep a particular standard, I thought that the two players might help, in order to face the pressure of international cricket. Bangladesh with two experienced players might have scored 400 runs plus against Pakistan in the recent Test and take the game into the fifth day and so on.

Bangladesh has shown some improvement after the series against Australia. Dav Whatmore appears to be doing well with the players.

Dav is a top class coach. You can only work with what you have and the captain is only as good as his players. I am sure he will inspire the Bangladesh players and give them the impetus that's needed.