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We’d like to again dominate Test cricket: Richardson

‘The purists may not like T20, but it’s here to stay’
Richie Richardson. Picture courtesy: WICB

Dhaka: Former captain Sir Richard ‘Richie’ Richardson, who has been the West Indies’ manager for the past three years, spoke to The Telegraph on Saturday afternoon.

Incidentally, Andy Roberts and Curtley Ambrose have also recently been Knighted.

Excerpts...

Q Sir ‘Richie’ sounds impressive...

A (Laughs) The Knighthood is an honour... It’s a recognition both for my small island nation (Antigua), which has produced 17 Test cricketers, and me... It’s humbling.

Has Knighthood brought about a change?

I’m still the same person... I’m operating the same way. Some people, perhaps, could be giving more respect. I know that many are happy.

You haven’t altered your visiting card...

I will, when this lot runs out!

To talk of the World T20... Who are the players who could make the biggest splash?

I don’t like singling out anybody because you never know what could happen... But, yes, you have Chris Gayle and you have Virat Kohli... There are others as well.

Do names matter?

No matter how big a player you are, you still have to perform... Form on the day matters, not reputation and records.

You finished your international career long before T20 came into being. Would you have enjoyed this format?

Sure, I would have. Some of my innings were the T20 type, you know! I did play T20 in England, though, when I was wearing the Lashings colours at the league-level.

To what extent do you see T20 getting into the territory thus far held by Tests and ODIs?

T20 is needed to help raise finances and help spread the game... You can take T20 to China, not Test cricket. The purists may not like T20, but it’s here to stay. It can’t be wished away.

What about Test cricket?

It has to stay. I still believe that every young player must aspire to play Test cricket for his country. I’m clear about that.

From the outside, what do you feel are the challenges presented by T20?

Players have to think fast, for time and the overs don’t wait... Also, this format calls for plenty of innovation. To flourish in T20s, you need to innovate. You have to take chances, but you may not be crucified if you fail.

You do need a game plan...

Of course you do. You need a plan A and a plan B and a plan C... It may so happen that plan A doesn’t last more than an over. You need multiple plans and, clearly, the captain has to be sharp.

Is it, then, tough captaining in T20s?

It must be, yes... A captain has to be flexible. Experience, I suppose, will help him adjust quicker.

Can T20 make heroes out of some pretty mediocre players?

Look, at the international level, anybody who is selected for his country cannot be mediocre... You don’t, for example, have to bat long hours in T20, but the format presents other challenges. No.1 being that you have to make the right decisions quicker. However, I do feel that the standards for bowlers are lower in T20s... No disrespect to anybody, but two wickets could get you the MoM award.

To dwell on your role... There were issues before you became the manager in 2010-11... Are you like an elder brother in the dressing room?

I can’t take credit for the smooth manner in which things are being run... Systems have been put in place and the head coach (Ottis Gibson) has also been playing a big role... I’m fortunate to get the players’ respect and, in turn, I respect them... I don’t throw my weight around, I’m not a dictator... I just be myself.

What if a problem crops up?

I’d like to deal face to face with the player/players involved. Or, the support staff... It’s best to sort things out internally. But if something can’t be resolved, then I’ll have to involve the West Indies Cricket Board. The quicker a problem is dealt with, the better... I don’t have a problem working with people... Fortunately, I don’t have many enemies, I mostly have friends.

Were there uncomfortable moments when the ODI captaincy was taken away from Darren Sammy and given to Dwayne Bravo?

That decision was made by the selectors and they had their reasons. Such decisions have to be respected, for it’s about West Indies cricket.

In terms of goals, what’s the priority for the West Indies?

To be among the top four in all formats, to climb back to No.1 in Test cricket gradually... We’d like to again dominate Test cricket and, if we do, we’ll dominate in the other formats as well. I say that because Test cricket produces the best players.

[Currently, the West Indies are No.8 in Tests, No. 8 in ODIs and No. 6 in T20s.]

Finally... Getting Saqlain Mushtaq on board has been a smart move...

Saqy fitted in straightaway, he’s like one of us... He was a great bowler and is a great person. Indeed, I find him inspirational and he’s opened my mind on issues of life. Saqy is such a positive thinker and a positive influence in the dressing room.