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November 6, 2000

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The Rediff Cricket Interview / Clive Lloyd

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'The people could not respect the game that earns them a living'

Nice guys never rule the world," once said Clive Hubert Lloyd, one of the most successful captains of West Indies cricket. But the irony of it all was he did rule, with his four-pronged pace attack.

A disciplined and ruthless professional, Lloyd is a gentle and soft-spoken giant off the field. He claims that the key to his success was his immaculate record as a batsman which embarrassed his teammates to perform well.

Clive Lloyd Currently involved with Lancashire County cricket, he left the West Indies side with bad taste in the mouth. He says he was never given a free hand in team selection, which was the main reason for his quitting.

Faisal Shariff spoke to him when he was in Bombay recently to find out among other things his views on the game, particularly West Indies cricket, and match-fixing. Excerpts.

What's your reaction to the widespread match-fixing allegations?

It's only people who made statements, and until the ICC have made the necessary sort of investigations you can't accuse anybody about it. But if it is something that has been happening, it needs to be weeded out, and that too quickly.

What was your reaction when the Central Bureau of Investigation named Brian Lara?

Well, everybody... not only Brian Lara; any cricketer that was named because of the people that you know and play with. So can't really castigate anybody, because it really is that situation where these people are refuting all the charges against them. So you just have to wait till all the facts are before us.

You have played cricket for so many years, did you ever encounter anything that made you suspicious?

Well, not to my knowledge.

Even hear Vivian Richards, a few months ago, made a statement ....

I don't know; that is something he might have heard, but it is nothing to do with me. I think he probably made a wrong statement, to which I replied.

Sir, could you tell me what is wrong with West Indian cricket?

I think we were probably very complacent during the years when we were doing well and we thought that everything would be hunky-dory, and I think it was arrogance that we had. Everybody had moved forward with camps and academies and we just thought that we would churn out the best players. And then we were losing players to other sports like basketball, football; people were immigrating and we were losing a lot of talent.

Do you think there was lack of planning on the part of the West Indies?

Yes, I think that has happened. We didn't cater to the situation. There is a lot of technology available and we haven't gone into that age yet.

Do you think the talent, the class, is the same as it was in eighties?

No, I don't think so, but there are a few young players who will come up soon.

Clive Lloyd How did it feel to be the captain of the most successful West Indian side ever, and then manage a team that kept losing?

It's quite embarrassing, I must tell you. And not only that -- you didn't have any great say. I wasn't the selector. Other people selected the players and I just felt that I had enough of that, and I thought that if I couldn't sit down and select the team, well, I wasn't good enough. I wanted to be more involved; I always was a very hands-on guy.

When I was captain, I didn't have a coach or anything; I did everything on my own and I thought that if they are going to pay you money you couldn't just sit down and watch cricket; you had to be more involved.

But do you think there was anything lacking in the team when you were manager? What else were the practical problems that you faced as manager?

Well, we had a lot of problems. We had a lot of young players who were ruthlessly exposed because they weren't brought up professionally. Because we had the luxury of playing County cricket and they didn't. So they were struggling in that respect. They weren't as professional in their outlook as we were.

So do you think there are too many prima donnas in the West Indian team?

I don't know; probably Viv has said that, but I don't know. It's just a matter of people understanding what they represent. And if you don't understand what you represent, cricket is gone back, maybe, 70 years or more. And if that alone doesn't give you the impetus to do well then nothing will.

Did you have any problems when you were handling the team?

No, not at all.

Were you dealing with egos?

No. The point is that if there were any problems there I would report them or fine them. That was my motto. Some of them weren't just good enough, I suppose.

Brian Lara is easily one of the best batsmen in the world. Why is he so inconsistent?

Well, I don't know. Like everybody else you go through that period. That only Brian Lara can tell you. You know, he is having problems with his eyes. There is so much expectation of him, and there are other players who are supposed to help him.

What are his problems? Can he be out of form for so long? Consistency doesn't just seem to pass him by?

He hasn't been consistent for the last couple of tours; he made quite a lot of runs against Australia, the best team in the world.

So you think that pressure tells on him?

Well, of course people are expecting him to carry the team; but again he is a top-class player.

Does Brian Lara alone need to deliver for West Indian cricket to click?

No, I don't know think so. But he is the best player we have and when he was captain he couldn't play as freely as he would want to; because if he gets out too early the team collapses. So he was between a rock and a hard place.

How would you rate him as a captain?

Well, I don't know; only time will tell. No doubt about the fact that he knew the game inside out.

So what is the key to captaincy?

Knowing the players, knowing the game itself and getting the best out of your players. And getting the respect of your players, and leading from the front.

Clive Lloyd Who would be the captain you always looked up to?

Ian Chappell. I admired his professionalism. He knows the game and never gives in. When the chips were down he would come out fighting. He had this ability in him to get the best out of the players.

What do you think were your strengths as a captain?

I think... to galvanize the support of my players, and leading from the front. As such, I mean my average as captain has been tremendous, even if I say that myself. You know other people say that too, so well and truly, that you embarrassed your players into doing well. You know they were quite young.

What did you think of Sir Vivian as a captain?

Well, he didn't lose a series; so, at least, he had a team behind him.

What do you think should be done to get West Indian cricket back on track?

Well, now we have to work our way up right from schools and look at all the reasons how we could be a professional team; use the ex-players, get an academy going, which I think will be up and running shortly. And I am sure we will be in the higher rungs on the ladder.

If I was to ask you a hypothetical question... if you were asked to change one thing that would change the face of West Indian cricket, what would it be?

I don't think there is going to be a quick fix. There is no quick fix. The point is: it takes time to be a top class cricketer. It will take a number of years. But if they work out the things in place, like having an academy and working together and getting people into the right habit early, I am sure that eventually everything will come right.

Tell me about your experiences with Malcolm Marshall when he was coach?

Tremendous cricketer. He knew the game inside out. It was pleasure to work with him and, you know, it was a pity that he passed away at such an early age.

How difficult was it for you to deal with it, since you had such a close association with him?

It was difficult. Like Roy Fredericks! Those things never leave you.

So what do you think should be done to make cricket more interesting? If there is one rule that you would want changed?

I think they could cut down on a few One-day tournaments and have a more structured itinerary, where players wouldn't be away from home so often. And cricket would be played in a much more docile manner. Everytime you turn on, whether it's one-day or Tests, it's getting rather confusing.

Sir, how would you rank this Indian cricket team, the current lot?

Well, it's very difficult to say. You know they are just coming together. They didn't look too good against Australia when I saw them, but I think they have one or two talented youngsters, the young Singh and the other left arm quickie. So they look like they can be a pretty useful side in years to come.

What do you think is the problem with them, the fact that they never live up to their talent and potential?

No, I think there have been bowlers that can dominate and I do think that of Srinath and Kumble. The others were just there. I think that a left arm quickie will give them variety and only time will tell. They have a new coach coming up so we will just see how it goes.

How would you rate Sourav Ganguly?

A very good cricketer. Probably it all depends upon how well he does in the next couple of years as a Test player. He has done well in the one-dayers.

So why do you say he is a good cricketer? What is the difference between a good cricketer and a good batsman?

I think he is a very good cricketer; the point is -- he probably could improve. But he is a very consistent scorer. And that's important, because it's a sign of a player who wants to be around for a long time.

What separates Sachin from the pack?

The point is Sachin has got some qualities that others don't have.

What are those qualities?

He plays what the others can't. He's consistent and he has a good eye.

How do you think cricket has changed?

Apart from the fact that there is more night cricket and more one-day cricket, it hasn't changed much. We didn't have the third eye; it has changed a bit.

Do you think so much money is good for the game?

I don't know about that, but I do know that cricketers do play a lot of hours, and I think everybody should have a basic wage. And no matter who you are playing for, the Test match fee should be the same for everybody, whether it's Bangladesh or Sri Lanka. Once you start Test cricket you should have a basic starting salary.

How would you have handled the match-fixing issue? What should be the punishment?

I don't know about punishment, but the point is they should have a committee and the committee should have people even if they are outside the game. They should look into all aspects of it, and even if the people are found to be transgressing any, then they should be able to fine or suspend them. And that should be in the hands of the judges. You don't want people who just might be sentimental. The people bringing disrepute to the game should be dealt with severely.

You said in your days you had not even heard of anything like this. Now it is out in the open, the Hansie Cronje issue; and now Azhar has just accepted having done games?

Maybe, it was going on before and people just turned a blind eye to it.

Isn't it really ironical that when sponsors are ready to pump in more money into the game, match-fixing has become so rampant?

That's the sad part. The people could not respect the game that earns them a living.

Is cricket going to survive this?

I hope so; I am sure it probably will. But it's just that the trust that people had in the game is gone.

When you look at your career is there anything that you would have done differently or anything that you missed out on?

Not at all. I enjoyed ever aspect of cricket and I hope that I have honoured the game.

Probably, you won't be the best person to answer this, but why do you think no captain has had the success percentage that you had? Why do you think results like that don't happen anymore?

It is because our players lasted longer. We had a closely-knit team; a team that always wanted to win, a team that was very professional. We changed a lot of things, people wanted to make runs against us and if you didn't make runs then they weren't considered as good players. So that is one of the good things we did.

There is a lot of talk that once when Desmond Haynes started out he used to quickly get out in the thirties and forties, and you then had him take rounds of the grounds with his kit and things like that. Weren't you ever uncomfortable doing things like that?

No, I wasn't. The players respected me and I was doing it for their benefit.

There are captains and there are coaches, like Bob Woolmer and others, who are using so much technology but still have not been able to get anywhere close to the success rates of the West Indians of yesteryear?

It's just that we loved what we did. And that the important thing is cricket has given us upward mobility and we just wanted to do it well.

What was your feeling when the West Indies lost to the English side after 31 years?

Yes, it was difficult. You knew for sure that you had to lose sometime, but in two days was really disappointing. It's just that our players weren't just as good as we expected them to be. And they should take all of that and see how they can improve.

Who do you think are the West Indian players to watch out for?

There are a lot of youngsters. Sarwan looks a good cricketer; Ganga is coming in. I think they made a mistake not taking Ricardo Powell. He is a good striker of the ball and once he gets his act together it should be interesting.

What about fast bowlers?

I don't like the new ones.

So do you strongly believe that Ambrose and Walsh were the last of the legacy of fast bowlers ?

I don't think so. But they will have to do well to surpass them.


Mail Cricket Editor