Legendary West Indies batsman Sir Vivian Richards has said the Caribbean can witness a return of their glory days under the able leadership of Darren Sammy after their monumental Twenty20 World Cup win in Sri Lanka.
Richards is delighted by the World Twenty20 triumph earlier this month and believes cricketing confidence in the region has received a well-timed and richly deserved boost. “Winning a tournament of that nature will ignite the spirit again—and winning in cricket is what it is all about,” the Sun quoted Richards as saying.
“The younger generation in the Caribbean love the Twenty20 format and will be inspired,” he added. “West Indies cricket is on the road back—winning should create the confidence that you need in other formats of the game. We can walk tall again,” he said.
Along with Sammy’s calm captaincy, the knighted batsman is particularly proud of two players from Jamaica—Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels. Samuels in particular is singled out for praise for an incredible year with the bat which culminated with a blistering 78 off 56 balls against Sri Lanka that helped secure a first piece of silverware since the 2004 Champions Trophy.
Richards said, “Over the years he looked isolated in the team. So I told him ‘this is your last chance’—and he responded in such a magnificent fashion. Sometimes you can have an uphill task, but it’s how you finish. “He made a commitment. He said to me ‘I ain't gonna let us down’ and I looked in his eyes and believed him. I could see the change within him. “So hats off to the man, he’s delivered.”
Gayle meanwhile is credited by Richards for restoring confidence in the side going into the tournament simply by virtue of his monstrous run-scoring ability at the top of the order. He said: “Chris has given himself a platform to operate from and has returned to the West Indies side as a leader.
“The guys in the team have an enormous amount of respect for him and to have a guy who is that destructive makes the players feel more comfortable as they have a better chance of winning.” Despite the appeal of Twenty20, Richards is in no doubt about which format produces the true titans of the game.
And he has called on the International Cricket Council to invest the spoils from the lucrative short-form game into the Test arena. He added: “Test is still best, it’s not even a conversation.
“But I hope the ICC get their priorities right—they run the sport but India have taken control somewhat in terms of finances, through the IPL and the Champions League. “With the success of Twenty20 we should not be looking to kill the goose that laid the golden egg.
“Rather cricket should use the money and interest generated to revive the format of the game that gave people the stage on which to make their name—and that is Test cricket.”