We've lost our way big time, says Richards

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By The Telegraph Online in York
  • Published 5.06.05

New York: As the West Indies prepare to take the stage as hosts of the 2007 World Cup, one of their most iconic players paints a bleak picture of the state of the sport in the Caribbean.

“I think we’ve lost our way big time,” former West Indies skipper Viv Richards said on Saturday in an interview before accepting the Caribbean Tourism Organisation’s award of excellence at a gala in New York City.

Sir Viv helped the West Indies win the first two World Cup titles in the 1975 and 1979, but has since watched the team descend to shadow of its former greatness in the 1990s.

He blames the decline on regional cricket administrators for not concentrating on what’s important ? the players. All the attention is on aesthetics and new stadiums being built for cricket’s premier event in 2007, Richards says. One will be named after him in his native Antigua and Barbuda.

“I would love to see emphasis placed on getting the team in a proper competitive position... But it looks to me the other way round,” he said.

Perhaps that is why, people like him are being drafted “to maybe explain what’s gone wrong,” he said.

An imperious batsman and brilliant fielder, Richards amassed a total of 8,540 runs in 121 Tests, as well as 6,721 runs from 187 ODIs.

“He was one of the most imposing personalities in cricket who proved to the rest of the world that despite our small size we in the region can achieve greatness,” the tourism organisation’s chairman, Pamela C. Richards, said before the ceremony.

“The Caribbean is as proud of him today as in the days he struck fear in the hearts of opposing teams.”

Now increasing numbers of youngsters in the Caribbean are turning to soccer and basketball, and Richards says regional cricket administrators must shoulder the blame.

“The administrators wanted all the glory for themselves,” he said, adding that the “product” that is the West Indies team, was not promoted and administered well. (PTI)