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A THORNY ISSUE: Gibson pushing for change

Andi Thornhill

A THORNY ISSUE: Gibson pushing for change

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Ottis Gibson wants a West Indies team shaped in his own image.
And I gather from some of his comments that no matter who you are, if you are not prepared to shape up you can expect to be shipped out.
You didn’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out following what he said after the team’s World Cup exit at the quarter-final stage.
He wasn’t pleased with the performance of the senior players and even though they weren’t called by name, even if you only went to school at Brumley you knew who he meant.
There was another sentiment expressed that nobody’s place would be guaranteed going forward as the results were the same for a decade with some of the same players in the team.
Gibson was hinting at change and the selection of the squads for the Digicel Twenty20 and first two One-Day Internationals against Pakistan reflects his state of mind.
No Chris Gayle, no Ramnaresh Sarwan, no Shivnarine Chanderpaul in any of the two line-ups.
New dispensation
Under normal circumstances that would be shocking considering that they are the most accomplished batsmen among the current lot, but I sense that they may be seen as shadows and may not be ideal in a new dispensation.
Quite frankly, this may have been strategized for Darren Sammy’s benefit too.
A new captain, already under immense pressure for his personal performance, will find it very difficult to gain the respect of illustrious senior players whose influence
on the others could cement stability or create instability.
We all know, though, that West Indies cricket is between a rock and a hard place and as Gibson intimated, has been for more than a decade.
Therein lies the moral of the story and those now charged with the responsibility of team selection shouldn’t miss the point especially when there is less quality to choose from.
It is the general belief that another set of selectors from another era must share some of the blame for the current state of West Indies cricket.
They were in too much of a rush to see the backs of greats like Sir Viv Richards, Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Jeffrey Dujon and the late Malcolm Marshall at the turn of the 1990s and so they created a huge gap as they sought to rebuild without enough experience around to pave the way.
New manager Richie Richardson was captain at the time and so his guidance should be sought in the present circumstances. His experience, if well applied, should be telling as we are obviously on the threshold of another wind of change.
The change should come through diligent, transparent deliberation and not to be determined through frustration and spite.
As it was in the 1990s, the future of West Indies cricket is not about the intentions of a few, but must encompass the sentiments of millions who still debate the pros and cons of our demise fiercely and pray for the day to come when we play like champions again.
It is perfectly fine to demand higher standards and greater levels of performance from your senior players but unless you are sure that they are over the hill and that there are efficient players to replace them, you shouldn’t be too hasty to put them on the backburner or put them out of the team altogether.
If one of the ploys is to safeguard Sammy’s captaincy, the onus is still on him to step up as a player and prove that he is worthy of commanding his position on merit. It will be an area that will be under the radar during the Pakistan and India series.
The results could very well determine Sammy’s and Gibson’s future in the West Indies set up too.
• Andi Thornhill is Sports Editor at the Caribbean Brodcasting Corporation. Email [email protected]