Lloyd is back, one more time
Tony Becca ON THE BOUNDARY
Clive Lloyd is back in the forefront of West Indies cricket, and West Indians, it seems, are happy about it, as surprising as it is.
Lloyd, the captain of the world champion team of the 1970s and the 1980s - arguably the greatest team of all time - manager, coach, chairman of the cricket committee, director of the West Indies Cricket Board, and defeated candidate for the presidency of the board, was selected as chairman of the selection committee last week in another bid to change the direction of West Indies cricket.
Considered by many as the second-greatest captain in the history of West Indies cricket, Lloyd was known as a hard-hitting left-handed batsman and a brilliant fielder, in the deep as well as in the slips.
It was as a captain, however, that he will be best remembered. He was second only to Frank Worrell and just ahead of only Rohan Kanhai and Viv Richards.
He was tactically not as good as Worrell, and probably neither as good as Kanhai or Richards. As a leader of men, however, he was undoubtedly only second to Worrell.
Lloyd was born to captain the West Indies team. He led from the front, he led men from all the territories and from different social and ethnic backgrounds, and with the exception of 1975-76 in Australia, he led them brilliantly.
He led a team of stars, a team made up of individuals with different needs, different goals, and different habits, batsmen such as Gordon Greenidge, Roy Fredericks, Desmond Haynes, Viv Richards, Lawrence Rowe, Alvin Kallicharran, and Larry Gomes; wicketkeepers like Deryck Murray, David Murray, and Jeffrey Dujon; and the great fast bowlers, Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Joel Garner, Colin Croft, Malcolm Marshall and Winston Davis.
They played like one happy band, they danced around the world conquering all and sundry, except New Zealand on the turbulent tour in 1980, and Lloyd led them with a gloved fist, always firm but with understanding and kindness.
The West Indies team made every West Indian feel proud of being a West Indian in those days, and Lloyd, as the leader, made every West Indian feel proud that he was indeed the leader.
brilliance as captain
Unfortunately, fate was not as kind to him as a manager, or as a coach, or as chairman of the cricket committee. His record, in all three positions, paled in comparison to his brilliance as captain.
As the captain, it was probably because he was in charge, and as the manager, or coach, or director, it was probably because he was expected to report to someone.
As the chairman of the selection committee, no one can, or should, question his decisions. In fact, despite the best efforts of its members, based on the performance of the recent panel in rotating the same failures, based on the confusing selections at times, and based on the recent results of the team, he should have a free hand.
His time as captain, his success as a captain, his experience, and his stature makes him deserving of it.
And Lloyd's first stroke was one of beauty.
Although a lot of things are wrong with West Indies cricket, and although he will need to try and change a lot of things by the signals of his committee, his first priority, he says, concerns the batting on the team.
"We have some good bowlers", he said recently, "but our batting is not up to par, especially in Test cricket."
In a nutshell, Lloyd said the batsmen need to play more intelligently, they need to know when to attack and when to defend, and that is a fact. The batsmen need to value their wickets. "We should not be bowled out in two sessions in a Test match, or be beaten in two and a half days in a Test match," Lloyd went on to say.
As Lloyd himself has said, this maybe his last hurrah in West Indies cricket, and the West Indian people are hoping he will bring his knowledge, his experience, and his no-nonsense attitude to the job.
Selection, good selection, is not the answer, or the only answer, to West Indies cricket. It is important, however, how it is done, how it relates to other things, and how it affects the players.
Clive Lloyd, Courtney Walsh, Eldine Baptiste, and Otis Gibson, with some help from Courtney Brown and captain Denesh Ramdin, need to select a team of cricketers who respect the game, who can play the game well, who will attempt to play well all the time, who want to represent the West Indies, and who will do their best, their utmost best, to play for the West Indies.