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Better Windies in five years

Ezra Stuart

Better Windies in five years

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THERE WILL BE a turnaround in the West Indies’ cricket fortunes within the next five years.
That’s the belief of new team manager Richie Richardson, who led the regional side in 24 Tests between 1992 and 1995 after his appointment as captain following the retirement of Sir Vivian Richards.
“We are in a situation where we have to rebuild. We got a number of really good, talented players and we got to put systems in place to work to bring them through,” Richardson said yesterday at the 3Ws Oval where the West Indies played two Twenty20 practice matches as part of a training camp aheadof the Digicel home series against Pakistan.
“I’m sure with the plan that is in place at the moment, in about five years we can start seeing a difference in West Indies cricket,” he affirmed.Richardson admitted that he saw the signs of decline in West Indies cricket when he was still playing in the mid-1990s.“But I’m disappointed that we reached this far down the ladder. We really should’ve identified where we were going many years ago and put something in place to make sure it didn’t sink this far down to the bottom,” he noted.
Richardson, who scored 5 949 runs in 86 Tests at an average of 44.39, insisted that the problems in West Indies’ cricket are not only with “the players not handling pressure” situation leading to unsatisfactory performances.
Lot to be done
“To be honest, there are a lot of things that we have to work on in West Indies’ cricket. We can’t just depend on getting things right at the top. We got to get things right at the bottom first and build from there.
“There are a number of problems that need to be sorted out and once these things are sorted, then we can start making inroads into making us the best team in the world again,” Richardson said.
Looking ahead to the Pakistan series which bowls off at the Beausejour Cricket Ground in St Lucia on Thursday with a Twenty20 match, Richardson said the Windies could be victorious.
“We are looking forward to playing against them. We believe that we have the ammunition. We have been really having a good preparation here in Barbados for the past few days and we believe that we are in shape and in the right frame of mind to go and tackle Pakistan and beat them in all formats,” he noted.
Richardson revealed that measures were already being put in place to work on the mental side of the players’ game and as a result, the legendary Sir Garfield Sobers was invited to speak with the cricketers.
“He shared a lot of experiences with the guys and he insisted that only five per cent of the game is played with the body. The rest, he said, is played with the mind, so he was  adamant that you have to be  mentally strong. 
Think team
“He said it was important to be able to think fast, be very competitive, know your responsibility, think team and go out and play for your team at all times,” Richardson said.“
It will not happen overnight. It takes time but the guys are prepared to work hard and to listen and I believe in time, we will start to see changes,” he added.
Richardson, who scored nine of his 16 Test centuries against formidable Australia, who replaced the West Indies as world champions, maintained that there is a talented pool of players in the Caribbean but team play, not individualism, is key to success. 
“We’ve seen in the recent World Cup that young players came in and did well and if we continue to work with the youngsters with the few experienced guys that we have, we can do well. 
“The important thing is that we work as a team and perform as a team. It is nice to have guys that are out and out match winners but at the end of the day, if you work well as a team, you can be just as effective,” he reasoned.