As the 2021 ICC T20 World Cup draws ever closer, some observers are still in disbelief at the squad Cricket West Indies selectors have chosen to defend the title the West Indies won in 2016.

Among them is Sir Vivian Richards, a man considered by many to be the greatest batsman of all time and one of the most destructive.

Richards, who played on the West Indies teams that won the Prudential World Cup in 1975 and 1979, said he still cannot believe that former West Indies captain Jason Holder, was not among the 15-man squad named for the world cup.

Holder, who played well in the recent CPL and took 16 wickets for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL this season, was only named among the four reserve players who will travel with the team to the United Arab Emirates where the West Indies will begin the defence of their title on October 23.

The decision by the selectors doesn’t sit well with the Master Blaster.

“I felt maybe it could have been a misprint and then hearing the news as well you think you were not hearing right at that particular time,” Sir Vivian told the Antigua Observer.

“We may have our issues with Jason when he was in charge as captain of the team, but we can never doubt the individual’s ability and his talent and I just felt sad that someone with such ability couldn’t make a West Indies T20, so that suggests to me that we must be seriously blessed with talented individuals the calibre of Jason Holder.”

Despite his misgivings, Richards urged fans to get behind the team as it goes for a third world title having won the tournament in 2012 and 2016.

West Indies open their defence against England in Dubai.

 

West Indies legend, Viv Richards, has called on talented young batsman Shimron Hetmyer to take a more mature approach to cricket, in order to realise and maximise his full potential.

In the same breath, the iconic former batsman fondly referred to as the ‘Master Blaster,’ believes any failure by the player to do so would be a great loss not just to the West Indies, but the sport as a whole.

The 24-year-old Guyanese-born batsman has been in the spotlight recently, after failing to secure an international retainer contract from Cricket West Indies (CWI).  Long-touted as one of the region’s premier talents, Hetmyer has had a disappointing period, missing out on several appearances for the West Indies and twice failing a fitness test.

“You’ve got to put in the work [because] if you take half measure, then you are going to get half measure results for sure. Shortcuts in this particular profession are of no substance and I am not sure if what I am saying here now will get to him at some point, but the individual is a talented individual and there are times when I see him on the field and he is pretty playful like he is still a kid and he actually has to be a little more mature at this stage now,” Richards told the Antigua Observer.

 “The guy has got too much talent and I think that if this talent goes to waste, it would be a huge loss, not just maybe to himself but to world cricket on a whole,” he added.

Hetmyer, who has played all three formats for the West Indies, last appeared for the team in a T20I series against New Zealand last year.  He has, however, not played One Day International Cricket since January of last year and has not played a Test match since November of 2019.

“If he really wants to make this sport his profession and to get the maximum result that everyone feels he has in him in terms of the talent then he has got to really start looking at himself in the mirror and start to think. I think he is [24 years old] now, so he has got to be serious. When you hear some of the stuff like they fail a fitness test and all that sort of stuff then that is just totally unprofessional.”

Legendary West Indies batsman, Viv Richards, was hesitant to compare the talent of players currently available to the West Indies team, with those in his heyday, as he believes eras are simply too different.

Richards represented the West Indies for close to two decades, following his debut in 1974.  For the majority of his career, the Windies were known as the world’s best cricket team, securing two World Cups during that time.

The Master Blaster, as he is otherwise known, played alongside some of the game’s greatest players, the likes of Clive Lloyd, Desmond Haynes, Gordon Greenidge, and bowlers Malcolm Marshal, Joel Garner, Collin Croft, and Michael Holding, to name a few, listed among his teammates.  Recently, the team has fallen far from that type of dominance.

For some, the quality comparison between the talent that was available then regionally, and the current crop, is an open and shut case with overwhelming favourability for the former.  For Richards, however, it isn’t that simple.

“It’s always tough for you to make comparisons of what took place yesterday to what’s happening today because I think the game would have moved on big time as well,” Richards told the Antigua Observer.

“There are a lot of things you would have had yesterday that (are) missing today and a lot of things you have today were missing yesterday, so, it’s a tough task for any individual to make comparisons,” he added.

One thing he insists that players can do from any era is to get the job done, regardless of the challenges.

 “The best way I would look at that is the period of time we were asked to work because remember we are not all the same age at this particular time. So, considering the times in which we all played and what was put in front of us at that particular time, we got the job done and you may ask that of the individuals today to do the very same. I don’t think I can give a definite answer to which period was better, and whoever was making whatever comparison; but all these individuals, at the time they came, they did good,” he said.

 

 

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