Richards should not be under any illusions
June 15, 2002
So the Master Blaster is back but Sir Viv Richards wonít be under any illusions as to what his appointment as new chairman of the West Indiesí selectors entails.
He would already know that it is, as Reverend Wes Hall aptly described it, a "thankless" task.
When the new president of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) was himself in the same position, he told me: "We know we will be criticised. We know we will get all the blame for the rain and none for the sunshine".
Richards enters during what has been, figuratively, the most protracted wet season in West Indiesí cricket history. He is realistic to know that there is no magic formula for suddenly dispersing the dark clouds and replacing them with bright, blue skies.
He and the other selectorial beginner, his former teammate Gordon Greenidge, will find the same pool of players on the table before them as did Mike Findlay and his panel.
The veteran, Joey Carew, can appraise them of all the dozens of names they have gone through in recent times and of all the disappointments.
They might, just might, from time to time come up with the inspired choice of some exciting new talent. But, in these days when players are on view from the age of 13, the sudden emergence of another Sonny Ramadhin or, for that matter, Wes Hall is unlikely.
Hopefully, they will resist the temptation of recycling failures, as Findlayís lot did with Stuart Williams and Junior Murray for the recent series against India, and not be inclined to too quickly discard individuals with obvious natural talent, like Ricardo Powell.
But the revival of West Indies cricket depends far more on strong and imaginative leadership, on and off the field, and the quality and depth of the development programmes than on the selection of the Test team.
What makes Richardsí installation especially signify cant is that it brings what Hallis fond of calling an "icon" back into the mainstream of West Indies cricket - and there is no greater "icon" of the modern age than Richards.
It may not be surprising to know that Richards, whose cricketing being was based on meeting challenges head on, should be so keen to now take on a task as prone to pitfalls as any that faced him at the crease. But it is heartening, nonetheless.
Hall, whose remarkable career has encompassed not only cricket as player, manager, selector and now president but several years in the cabinet of the Barbados government, once said: "Iíve found more politics in the West Indiesí cricket spectrum than I found in the parliament of Barbados."
Brian Lara was recently quoted as saying much the same thing.
Explaining why he was no longer interested in the captaincy, he told the cricinfo.com website: "Nowadays, there is too much politics regarding the team selection. You canít lead the team as you wish and I donít think that the situation will change in the future." he added.
Lara and other contemporary players might fell less cynical about the influence of politics on selection with Richards calling the shots.
His playing career confirmed him as a strong, no-nonsense character. And it is his ability to treat the lobbyists that exist at all levels of the game in the Caribbean - from prime ministers to posses, from board members to just plain bores - with the same contempt he did opposing bowlers that will be Richardsí most telling asset in his new post.