Windies great cites regional cricket, pitches as roadblocks to progress
Former Barbados and West Indies opener Gordon Greenidge has described the present standard of regional cricket as “exceptionally weak”.
Speaking in an interview with ESPNsports the retired batting great suggested that the fortunes of the West Indies team would get no better unless something was done to improve the standard of the regional game.
“Regional cricket has to be stronger. At the moment it’s exceptionally weak, so it’s not going to produce the players you’re looking for for international cricket. How? I’m not certain, but something needs to happen. If it doesn’t happen, we’ll continue to be the way we are. It’s sad to see, but that’s the reality of it,” Greenidge said.
Greenidge, 65, had a stellar career that saw him appear in 236 international Test and One-Day matches, scoring 12 692 runs with 30 centuries and 65 fifties, while averaging 44.72 and 45.03 in Tests and ODIs respectively. He tallied 37 354 first-class runs with 92 centuries and 183 fifties in a career that started in 1970 and ended in 1992.
Greenidge explained that one of the major problems with the crop of current West Indies batsmen was that unlike other countries, most of them were thrown into international cricket without much first-class experience and had to learn among colleagues who were similarly green.
“They don’t have enough cricket behind them – first-class cricket, quality cricket. They come in without anyone in the team to tutor them, because everyone is of about the similar level of experience.
“It’s like they’re thrown into the deep end and either they swim or they sink. Makes it difficult for guys to speak to each other. I’m not sure that any one of them could give the other advice, because they’re all in the same boat,” he said.
Greenidge noted that the difference between the West Indies team of his area and the present, was that in his time it hurt to lose and playing Test cricket meant something to the players. He said the present players not only seem to lack intensity but losing games did not appear to matter enough.
“I don’t see the intensity in players today. The drive to represent the West Indies. I could be wrong, but I don’t see it. To play in a Test match, in that arena, for the West Indies. That is the best, the thing you hope for as a cricketer.
“To see players with broad smiles after they’ve just lost a game. That’s not on. A big no-no. It’s like people are thinking, ‘we’ve lost, never mind, on to the next one’. A team can’t not manage to make 200 in either innings and then go about the place smiling. It’s like it’s no big thing to lose a match. Every game should be played like it’s a final. You win, then you move on,” Greenidge said.
The former Barbados captain added: “When we lost a match, some of the guys wouldn’t even want to go out for dinner, we’d order room service. You’d sit there and discuss the game. We’d think: ‘yes, the opposition played well, but we had everything we needed to win that game, had it well in hand at one point, so what went wrong?’ We’d wonder where we lost our direction.”
Asked what was the best way for the young batsmen to learn more about their trade, Greenidge said they should watch the individuals who did it well. He said coaches should be able to demonstrate good batsmanship, rather than just talk about it.
“You can only get so far listening to someone tell you how to play this or that shot. Much better to watch someone playing it. The cut, for instance, was one of my trademark shots, but there are lots of batsmen who play it well, so watch a video clip of one of them. If you’re a coach, demonstrate, don’t just talk. It’s much easier if players see what to do for themselves,” he advised.
At a time when none of the current West Indies batsmen plays English county cricket – unlike the 1970s and 1980s – Greenidge, a stand-out at Hampshire, noted that playing in English conditions vastly helped his game.
“It helped all my techniques. You’d play on lots of different surfaces, on uncovered wickets, which I thought were unfair to the batsman. The bowler’s run-up was covered, so he’d have a dry spot to land on. Sometimes our bats had more mud on them than ball marks. And you had to score fast to set up a win inside three days. Those pitches made you think. Helped you develop the sort of technique that would bring you success when it was difficult,” he recalled.
Greenidge also suggested that the main pitches in Barbados and the wider Caribbean were not helping the West Indies’ cause.
“They’re (pitches) much slower now. Some of them have been relaid, or the preparation is different. That hardness you used to see in the Caribbean has gone. Unfortunately, you haven’t really seen the batsmen making use of the slower pitches. That’s one of the main problems in West Indies cricket,” he suggested.