Don’t despair! …Cricket great Clive Lloyd says Windies have talent to dominate in future

Clive Lloyd

Reprinted from Jamaica Observer

MANCHESTER, England — Cricket great Clive Lloyd says that while the West Indies side that flopped at the 2019 ICC World Cup lacked the battle readiness of the regional team that won two titles in the 1970s they have the talent to dominate in the future.

“They haven’t played a lot of cricket, really. We [the sides of 1975 and 1979] had guys who had played some county cricket, and so on,” Lloyd told the Jamaica Observer after West Indies were eliminated.

The West Indies icon captained the team to glory at the first two World Cups — in 1975 and 1979. Though West Indies have not won the trophy since, he was integral in laying the platform for their global cricket dominance that stretched into the early 1990s.

Lloyd, 74, has resided in England for decades. He was a regular at games as the mostly inexperienced West Indies squad plummeted out of the 2019 tournament in England and Wales, finishing ninth in the 10-team league phase with a measly five points.

India (15 points) topped the table, followed by fellow semi-finalists Australia (14), England (12) and New Zealand (11).

The last-four stage is set to begin today, featuring the India and New Zealand contest at Old Trafford in Manchester. On Thursday, title-holders Australia and the hosts are slated to lock horns at Edgbaston in Birmingham. The final is scheduled for Sunday at Lord’s in London.

The West Indies former captain acknowledged the widening gap in resources between the Caribbean side and the better-funded, powerhouse cricketing nations, affording them superior preparation in and out of competition.

He noted that it was also a factor before the West Indies’ halcyon days.

“We need to find out exactly what is important for us to move on. We don’t have the money that these other places have, but we will have to try to make do with what we have until we get to the top. That’s what we did — we didn’t have a lot of money either, but when we became champions of the world then we could dictate,” he explained.

The West Indies 2019 campaign started with a bang, knocking aside Pakistan by seven wickets at Trent Bridge in Nottingham on May 31. The rest was largely disastrous, West Indies being either outright poor or losing the grip when in winning positions.

“I suppose they probably got carried away thinking they were going to blow everybody away. But the wickets here are probably not as quick as people might think. The guys who got the wickets are the guys who swung the ball.

“We just didn’t adjust properly, and these pitches are prepared almost like a Test pitch so they’re much better, much firmer and they don’t have as much bounce.

“We had a very good chance to qualify. These guys haven’t played a lot so let’s hope — we’ll have to see if they’ve learned anything,” Lloyd told the Observer.

The batting was arguably the weakest link.

Throughout the nine games of the league phase, the Jason Holder-captained West Indies tallied two centuries — one from all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite and the other from young left-hand batsman Nicholas Pooran. For context, India’s Rohit Sharma notched a record five hundreds over the same period, and Australia’s David Warner scored three, while other teams had players scoring two.

“They [West Indies batsmen] got starts but they never continued. If you’re going to play this kind of cricket you got to do what some of the India guys do. They get to 50 and 60 and they get a hundred. The Australians have done it and others have done it, so we need to try to regroup and work to the future.

“This is a new side, a young side. They have probably learned from their mistakes. We have some good, exciting players. We probably haven’t done as well as expected but there are cricketers that will light up the world in the future,” said the former left-hander, regarded one of the game’s finest batsmen in the 1970s and 80s.

West Indies, winners of the 2012 and 2016 Twenty20 World Cups, are formidable in the short format, using their vast experience gained on global franchise circuits, their six-hitting capability and overall athleticism to overpower opponents.

Lloyd noted that shot selection and temperament are more pivotal factors when batting in 50-over cricket.

“I just hope that when they play a few more one-day games they realise that 50 overs is different from 20 overs. We just didn’t have the experience and the know-how to adjust. It’s not all hitting fours and sixes — I admire the way [New Zealand captain] Kane Williamson batted when he played against us in that [innings of] 148. He just batted intelligently, so we have to realise that you can still hit it along the ground and be just as destructive.

“We [the successful 50-over World Cup sides] played some county cricket but it’s also just about applying yourself. One-day cricket is about who plays well on the day. You have to get all the disciplines right on the day,” he said.