West Indies veteran Larry Gomes, has added his voice to the latest round of criticism levelled against the Caribbean side following their recent defeats in Bangladesh and India.
West Indies were dismissed within three days in all their previous four Tests in the sub-continent, with the latest humiliation in Bangladesh by an innings and 184 runs on December 2.
Gomes, who played 60 Tests for West Indies during the late 70s and early 80s, was a guest at the Past Cricketers Society dinner and awards ceremony at the Queen’s Park Oval on November 24.
He attributed the recent struggles of the current team to the lack of exposure to county cricket in England.
“In our time, most of the guys played county cricket,” said Gomes, who played for Middlesex from 1973-76.
“Since (the English and Wales Cricket Board) limited the overseas players, that sort of pushed us out the window. Our players don’t get that opportunity to play in England like before. You were more professional, playing day in, day out. Unfortunately, our players don’t have that experience or exposure of playing in England,” he added.
However the 65-year-old left-handed batsman refused to blame the ascent of Twenty20 cricket for the team’s current plight, and instead asked the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) to take steps to improve the standard in the longer format of the game.
“T20 is more entertainment. You can’t really blame the players. The lifespan of a cricketer is short, so they have to look after themselves. (Cricket West Indies) will have to try and do something to compensate the players if you want them to play the longer version of the game.”
“We have to find a way to try to get our best players to play the five-day version. We wouldn’t have our best team at any (given) time, whether it’s the T20 or the 50-overs or the Test matches,” he added.
Gomes also lamented the inability of the current crop of players to concentrate for long periods of time, a basic requirement for success in Test cricket.
“It’s sad,” he admitted. “It’s a different era now. Test cricket, I wouldn’t say, is dying, but is not as popular as the other formats of the game.
“It’s sad to see where we were at one time to just fall so far down in the rankings. I don’t know if it’s the fault of the T20s why players are not applying themselves, concentrating longer and thinking about the longer version of the game.
“We can play with more heart and (show) more pride in the performances… and think about the West Indian people. It’s sad to see but it’s a changing world. The players of today are focusing, I think, mostly on the shorter versions of the game,” Gomes said.
Gomes was honoured by the Past Cricketers Society along with legendary West Indian fast bowler, Sir Wes Hall, in 2017. Another legend, Sir Garfield Sobers, was this year’s recipient.