West Indies have no pride, rages Lance Gibbs

Published: Monday, April 9, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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Georgetown, Guyana:Cricket has been the heartbeat of his life, but watching the 2007 West Indians play in the World Cup has left legendary spinner Lance Gibbs in deep despair.

Gibbs, who took 309 Test wickets in his illustrious career, believes the modern West Indies side, which is facing World Cup elimination this week, have a crucial quality missing from their make-up.

"Where is the pride for representing the Caribbean?" asked the 72-year-old Gibbs, who has travelled from his Miami home to watch the World Cup.

"They must know about pride as, apart from cricket, we are separate nations.

"Cricket is a cohesive force and these players have a responsibility to unite the Caribbean, which they are failing to do," Gibbs told AFP.

The West Indies, hosting the World Cup for the first time since its inception 32 years ago, face an uphill task to reach the semi-finals after losing all their three Super Eights matches.

Brian Lara's men not only need to win all their remaining matches -- against South Africa (April 10), Bangladesh (April 19) and England (April 21) -- but also hope other results go their way.

However, Bangladesh did them a favour by beating South Africa on Saturday.

"If you perform you will be well rewarded - money as well as in terms of progress - and when successful cricketers walk in the streets they are recognised which even presidents and prime ministers of countries sometimes aren't," said Gibbs who also believes a strong West Indies is vital for world cricket.

"West Indies are always a proud team, so a strong West Indies team is what world cricket needs, just like when the West Indies under Clive Lloyd ruled the world and became an inspiration for other teams," he said.

Gibbs played between 1958 to 1976 and with his cunning off-spin he helped put the West Indies on the road for attaining supremacy which saw them rule world cricket in 1980s.

But recent years have not been kind.

Performances and standards have slipped, something Gibbs believes is due to bickering and money.

"There are lots of problems afflicting Caribbean cricket, the foremost being the players' association bickering over money," said Gibbs.

"I'm not saying they should not be paid, it's not a matter of jealousy, it could be done in much better ways.

"You don't always wash your dirty linen in public. The tour to South Africa was a disaster when players stayed back in England and the West Indies Cricket Board president had to fly out and solve the problems."

Gibbs was referring to the players revolt over money before the 1998 tour which ended in South Africa whitewashing them 5-0 in Tests and 6-1 in One-dayers.

"I would have gone there for nothing to see what Nelson Mandela had done there and learn lessons," Gibbs said of the former South Africa president.

Regular clashes between players' endorsements and official sponsors have also hit Caribbean cricket hard in the last few years.

Meanwhile, Gibbs criticised World Cup organisers for using new grounds which he believes are as alien to the home team as they are to the visitors.

"One of the reasons the West Indies are not doing well is that we have lost the home advantage with the new grounds and new pitches. Sri Lanka knew more than us about the pitch in Guyana. Antigua was new, Grenada will be new."

And what about the modern generation of spinners?

Gibbs rates Shane Warne and Muthiah Muralitharan as the two "greatest spinners" he has seen.

"They are fast learners, play for pride and have their places in the history of the game," said Gibbs.


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