Sir Vivian standing firm at the crease
By Ezra Stuart
Guyana Chronicle
March 27, 2003

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados - Chairman of the West Indies selectors, Sir Vivian Richards is not changing his guard or moving from the crease when it comes to the selection of the regional team.

The former West Indies captain and master batsman, who was never afraid to take on the fastest bowlers in his heyday, has warned the critics of his selection policy that none of the bouncers and yorkers they deliver to him will move him from his stance.

In explaining his approach to the selection of the West Indies during the World Cup in South Africa, Sir Vivian said rather than hastily discard players, he felt it prudent to give the performers in the preceding One-Day series in India, a fair chance to succeed.

"If you know your history about West Indies cricket, you would check back and see the number of players which we would've had in the past who have gone through the mill, bang bang, like that," Sir Vivian said VOB's radio sports call-in programme Monday night.

"Lots of players have this done to them and I felt that if we have something going in India - it's not the easiest thing to beat India in India - you must give individuals opportunity for them to go forward, rather than all these little splinter groups who have their ideas.

"This is how it has been (but) this is how I like it to be and if you do identify individuals who you think have got the ability, you have to give them all the chances for them to do good, especially after the series in India and that's the way it went. If I had the opportunity, I would do it again," contended Sir Vivian.

Sir Vivian, who was in Barbados to watch the Carib Beer match between India ‘A’ and West Indies ‘B’ and also meet with fellow selectors Gordon Greenidge and Joey Carew said he was "not overzealous about the fact that you would like everyone on your side" but noted "no one can ever have that".

However, he reiterated that the 4-3 triumph in the One-Day series in India was an important factor in team selection and keeping faith with certain players.

"If you understand the stats and look at the recent results that we had, it was just recently everyone did put us in a (high) place because of the way we played in India, so that's the criterion I felt for us to have those same guys in South Africa," Richards opined.

To this end, Sir Vivian defended the tour selectors for keeping faith with the opening pair of Chris Gayle and Wavell Hinds, who failed to give the team a sizeable opening partnership in the World Cup.

"They didn't quite come to the forefront and this is what sports is all about and I would like to think that we are all responsible for this," Sir Vivian said.

"No one is going to look to say I'm going to bail out of here. I am responsible for it. I am a responsible person and I hold my hand up but I will hold my hand up anytime if we think we are making the right decisions.

The Master Blaster also deflected criticism for not playing young middle order batsman and young pacer Jermaine Lawson until the last group match against Kenya when it was clear the Windies could not qualify for the Super Sixes.

"We are the ones here who are the judge at this particular point and like I said, one certainly does respect opinions but at the end of the day. If we look to everyone for them to make a decision for us, I don't think we will have a decision," Sir Vivian contended.

He said the non-specialist bowlers used in the matches that the West Indies lost could not be blamed for the team's failure.

"Everyone complained about the bits and pieces bowlers which we had but I felt they did well. We played seven batters and we got let down in that particular category," Richards reasoned.

Asked by a caller why Gayle or Hinds was not dropped, Richards said he had backed both to perform successfully.

“These are the individuals who I felt were capable of doing it. These individuals especially - we talked about maybe giving them equal enough chances for them to be as successful as can be.

“We saw a combination in India which held us in good stead to be able to come out winning that series 4-3. I was going to give them all the opportunity in the world for them to do good,” Sir Vivian maintained.

Richards admitted he was disappointed with the fact that the team did not perform to expectations in the World Cup but noted he is capable of dealing with criticism from fans.

“I was obviously disappointed with the way the team played but I am satisfied we can have all these various views, some nice, some not so nice and some personal but this is what sometimes our backs are made of. They are broad enough to handle these situations.

“My love for the game will never, ever change and seeing West Indies at the pinnacle, where we should be if we do get things right," Richards said.

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