Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Legendary West Indies captain Clive Lloyd, who is now the chairman of selectors, believes that itineraries nowadays are just too “crammed”.
Lloyd also noted that touring countries should play at least two four-day games before a Test series so that they can get accustomed to the weather and pitch conditions.
He added that due to matches being scheduled so close to each other, it doesn’t allow touring nations to experience the country they are visiting and nor does it allow them to take in the history and culture as well.
“Nice, spaced out tours would be the best thing for cricket,” Lloyd said in Centurion. “The public will be seeing players who are fit enough and hungry enough to play and not just hoping that the game is over quickly. Right now, everything is crammed. I think you need to have a better itinerary where cricket is concerned.
“I’ve always advocated that we should at least have two four-day games before any tour. One game is not enough. Suppose that game was washed out – we’d have had no practice. And we should probably have one in-between. It’s not only for our players but for your players. You’d want them to play against the touring team to see them.
“We just jump into a country and then we are gone. You don’t see other pitches, you don’t see a lot of the country. I think it’s wrong. I think we should have had at least three games surrounding this Test series. If somebody is out of form, they can go into a four-day game and get back into it but we don’t have that. You can’t tell if a player is doing well in the nets. It’s not the right place. Match situation is what it’s about.”
Lloyd also noted that tour matches are an ideal way of introducing younger players to international cricket.
“You can’t groom players anymore. I think that’s the thing you need when you go on tour. You try a few youngsters to see how they will match up against the opposition,” he said. “I’m not saying you have to have 10 games, but enough games that youngsters will get a chance. Now, you have to play players who you think will play in the Test match but if there were more games outside of the Test match, you could try one or two who you think will be able to get experience.”
Lloyd also revealed that he was excited to see what kind of impact left-arm pace bowler Sheldon Cottrell, who is a private in the Jamaican Defence Force, will have in South Africa.
“I watched him play a game in Trinidad the other day. We asked him to play that game because we wanted to see how fit he is,” he said. “He is always very enthusiastic and being a soldier, I think he is fit enough and he wants to play. Left-hand quicks don’t come often and he is somebody we need to nurture and take along with us as long as possible. He could be very lively. On these pitches here, if he swings it and bowls as well as he has been bowling, he could give batsmen some trouble.”
If Cottrell is picked, it means that Shannon Gabriel or Jason Holder may sit on the sidelines, especially since Lloyd also wants the West Indies to have a spinner in the side for the first Test.
“I would think we would play Sulieman Benn. He is our best spinner, he has got a lot of experience and he tends to get the team going,” Lloyd said.
Even though the West Indies have lost opener Chris Gayle to injury and batsman Darren Bravo to a personal problem, Lloyd is confident that the rest of the batting line-up will stand tall and deliver.
“This is a chance for youngsters to go out there and show their mettle,” he said. “They are playing against one of the best teams in the world. That alone should galvanise them to do well. We have youngsters here who we feel are good enough. Wherever we go, West Indies players are still respected because of what we achieved over the years and now they have their own era to work on. I hope that they do. This is the best stage you can have. It’s a wonderful country, terrific people and they love sport. If you can make a name for yourself here, you’re on a roll.”
Lloyd also admitted that it is disappointing to see players like Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell, Darren Sammy and Dwayne Bravo putting Twenty20 cricket ahead of Test matches.
“It’s obvious that people want to earn a living and they are probably the best at that style of cricket and they have done fairly well,” he said. “But I want to see them playing for us a little bit more often. They are supposed to be our best players and you want your best players playing for you.”