"West Indian cricket continues to spring one surprise after the other. The latest one has been the choice of Brian Lara as captain," Richards wrote in a syndicated column for the Indian media on Thursday.
"Clearly it is a decision prompted by commercial considerations, keeping in mind the World Cup. It's also a decision that might last only till that tournament.
"Chances are that Lara's appointment was not a very popular decision among the players. However, this short-term appointment was necessary because some of the other players in contention were not yet mature or responsible enough for the position of captain."
Lara, Test cricket's leading run-getter with 11,294 runs from 124 Tests, was appointed West Indian captain for a third time last month following the resignation of Shivnarine Chanderpaul.
The 37-year-old, who led his team to a 5-0 sweep over Zimbabwe in a One-day series this week, begins another series against Rahul Dravid's India later on Thursday.
Richards, one of the most devastating batsmen in history who finished with 8,540 runs from 121 Tests, said the West Indies were capable of returning to the glorious days of his era.
"The West Indian Cricket Board has been lurching from one crisis to another, and hopefully we have heard the last of the one regarding sponsorship," he wrote.
"In this bleak scenario, the one thing that the West Indian fans can cheer about is the improvement in the team. Players like Chris Gayle, Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan have joined forces with Lara to lend muscle to the batting.
"The bowling is also looking good with Fidel Edwards holding out a promise of pace. There are players like Dwayne Bravo and Denesh Ramdin who give the team some options lower down the order.
"All told it is a fighting one-day unit, and Indians might find the opposition quite challenging."
India, seeking their first Test series win in the Caribbean in 35 years, are due to play four Test matches after the conclusion of the five-match One-day series.
"The Indians would rate this as their best chance to beat the West Indians in the West Indies in Tests," Richards wrote. "However, they will not find it easy because this West Indian team has the ability to cause a few surprises if luck goes their way.