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Speaking at the Sticky Wicket’s inaugural induction Hall of Fame ceremony here Thursday night when bronze sculptures were unveiled of 12 of the West Indies’ greatest cricketers, the fast-bowling icon called for a development programme in the Caribbean.
“I think our cricket is heading nowhere at present. I think we need a development programme and our development programme cannot be sustained financially by the West Indies Cricket Board,” contended Roberts.
“If we are to follow the rest of the world, we have to have the finances,” added Roberts.
Roberts said he hopes Antigua-based American investor R. Allen Stanford, who conceptualised the Hall of Fame, would assist with such a development programme.
“I would like for him to be the one who put the funds up so that we can have a development programme so that we will be able to compete with the territories like Australia, India and New Zealand,” Roberts said.
“We have been left far behind, particularly as we had the golden era of the late 1970s and early 1990s when we swept all before us,” Roberts noted.
“Perhaps, we should be demanding that those in authority approach more corporate sponsors, not only Allen Stanford but in other territories so that we can have these development programmes around the region,” Roberts suggested.
Roberts, who captured 202 wickets in 47 Tests and was the fastest bowler to reach the 100-mark, doing so in just 19 Tests, charged that “the time for talking is far superseding and the time for action is now.”
Pleading with the West Indies Cricket Board that “time is running out on us”, Roberts said the 2007 World Cup “is here upon us and we hope that we can have a development programme that will assist West Indies cricket.”
“Help us to get back to the top and with the aid of the fellow inductees here, I think we can lift our cricket back to where it was. We need to get our house in order so that we can rise like the phoenix from the ashes,” Roberts said.
Apart from Roberts, three cricketing knights, Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Everton Weekes and Sir Vivian Richards, were also inducted into the Hall of Fame.
The other inductees were George Headley, Lance Gibbs, Clive Lloyd, Michael Holding, Malcolm Marshall, Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh and Brian Lara.