Calcutta: Clive Hubert Lloyd, who captained one of cricket’s greatest (and most menacing) teams, for a decade from the mid-1970s, spoke to The Telegraph on Friday.
A legend who has starred in many roles, Lloyd is currently in Port of Spain for the inaugural edition of the Limacol Caribbean Premier League (LCPL), the newest T20 tournament.
Lloyd’s comments on India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and the absence of cricketers from India, in the LCPL, were published in these columns on Saturday.
The following are excerpts from the rest of the interview
Q What are your thoughts on T20 as a format?
A It is an exhibition... Obviously, people might think that not a lot of intelligence is attached to this format, but T20 isn’t just a matter of hit and giggle. You have to put some thought into your game. Nowadays, players get a lot of information, which wasn’t so before... What’s pleasing is that there’s much improvisation in T20.
Surely, you would have enjoyed the T20 format...
(Laughs) I would have had to bat up the order... Otherwise, with Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Viv Richards and Alvin Kallicharan around, I wouldn’t have got to face a lot of bowling! It would have been very interesting seeing how the batters scored off the likes of Andy Roberts, Malcolm Marshall and Joel Garner.
Rahul Dravid, for one, feels that T20 could swallow up Test cricket. What’s your opinion?
Well, people seem to think so... Dravid, though, made some very good observations (in London) about Test cricket and what T20 can do to help the game. What he said is that Test cricket is a true test of character, Test cricket is an examination... It gives an insight into the mind of a player, determining how he can think... People are still watching Test cricket, an example being the ongoing Ashes. If the West Indies does well in Tests and the tickets are affordable, then people will definitely watch the matches... I don’t think Dravid dislikes T20. Indeed, nobody would, as it’s giving the fellows a very good living.
So, can Test cricket and T20s co-exist?
Oh, yes. The Test Championship (being introduced from 2017) should be there, as it will give an impetus.
Had you been the captain in this T20 era, what would your approach have been?
In T20, you’re defending most of the time. But my bowlers were the attacking type and they would have wanted a slip or two. I would have liked to see how (Tillekaratne) Dilshan played the scoop against some of my bowlers.
Would it have been easier or tougher captaining in T20s?
It would have been challenging and I would have enjoyed the experience... The opposition comes with a plan and you have to see how you can destroy it. Quickly.
Do you pity the bowlers in T20?
Yes... A medium pacer could get a stiff neck looking up and seeing the ball disappear time and time again! It’s terrible for the bowlers, but that’s the way it is. Some may not think that’s cricket, but the game has different facets and we need to like them.
The mindset of a cricketer matters...
Intelligence comes into play and it is about working out situations, especially the tight ones.
How would you describe your mindset over the 110 Tests (7,515 runs, 19x100) and 87 ODIs (1,977 runs, 1x100)?
We were always a positive lot... We were a confident team, because winning is contagious, just as losing is. Some members of my team are coaches in the LCPL and are not accustomed to losing. They have, after all, been winners.
Is Chris Gayle the biggest game-changer in T20s?
Chris is my first pick, but there are other good T20 players too... Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Shane Watson, Ross Taylor to name a few.
What are your thoughts on the LCPL?
I’d say it has been very successful... The good thing is that people have accepted players turning out for a franchise from a different region. Every franchise has got gifted players from overseas and they have gelled. I’ve noticed the overseas lot helping their captain with field placements. It’s important to be involved.
But is the LCPL actually going to give cricket in the Caribbean a boost?
I’m hoping it will, yes... If the West Indies Test team performs much better, then I’m sure the same crowds will throng the stadiums... We need to win trophies and win them regularly.
[The West Indies won the last World T20, in September-October 2012, their first World success since the 1979 World Cup.]
Is too much money in the T20 leagues spoiling the cricketers?
To an extent, I am worried... It’s important for the senior players to be available for domestic cricket (and not run off to a T20 league)... An understanding of some sort has to be there... I’m not saying that the players be robbed of their earnings, but if there’s domestic cricket, they should come back to their country and help in developing the next generation.
In the West Indies context, specifically, what needs to be done?
(Passionately) We should have more A tours... If you need a player (at short notice), you could pluck him from the A team and put him in the Test arena. Right now, our domestic cricket is not as strong as it used to be.
You must be quite busy, as an ambassador for lotion-maker Limacol, the sponsors...
Many years ago, I’d done an ad for Limacol in Queensland! My role is to take things forward, make people realise it’s a good brand... When we played for the West Indies and travelled to Guyana, we used to carry a bottle of Limacol... It kept us cool in the hot conditions... Getting back to the present... Some people, the traditionalists, are not too happy with the LCPL... But there’s entertainment, with young people watching, and a lot of them would probably want to play the game.
The last one... What’s your message to the emerging generation?
Learn the rudiments of cricket, master them... That done, you will be able to play in any format... Don’t let money spoil you and don’t think it’s only T20 that can make you rich... Money is a subsidiary of success... I’d like the emerging generation to be professionals in every respect.
Footnote: Gayle’s Jamaica Tallawahs will face Guyana Amazon Warriors, captained by Ramnaresh Sarwan, in the LCPL final which begins in the early hours of Sunday (IST).