Legendary former captain, Clive Lloyd, wants to see West Indies players making a stronger commitment to the Caribbean side and has also urged the new Cricket West Indies leadership focus on improved treatment of players.
The 74-year-old, who oversaw the Windies’ capture of the 1975 and 1979 World Cups, said the various global Twenty20 leagues were threatening to reduce the regional selection pool, and argued that dialogue with the players was needed in order to arrest the situation.
“What we need to say to our senior players or even the young ones now who want to play in the IPL is that our cricket comes first,” Lloyd told the Mason and Guest radio cricket show here.
“I’m sure they want to make money, yes, but I remember up to a year or two ago, the New Zealand authorities called in all the players and said ‘we don’t mind you playing, you can play all over the world but when we have our cricket at home, we would like you to be there’ and they signed a five-year deal.
“If you’re going to play all over the world and we have these young guys standing in and when they do well and the big tournaments come around, we just throw them away. I think we have to have a happy medium somewhere. You may have a special dispensation for one or two people but I think we need to get our best team playing at all times.”
He added: “I think dialogue is important. I think we have to sit down and speak to the players because I don’t think that happened before. Sit down with the players and say listen ‘we have so much cricket to play’ … we need to have our young players playing with the stars.”
West Indies Test teams in the past have suffered from an exodus of its best players who have opted to ply their trade in lucrative T20 leagues. For instance, veteran opener Chris Gayle, who averages 42 from 103 Tests and is one of just four batsmen in history with two Test triple centuries, has not played a Test in five years.
In preceding years, Gayle and several other senior players have been involved in squabbles with the regional governing body over their availability for selection, leading to strained relations with CWI.
Lloyd, a former chairman of selectors, said CWI now needed to engage players and restore a relationship based on trust.
“The point is we can’t afford to lose too many players of quality because we have a small of people to go around,” the Guyanese explained.
“So we have to try and keep our players as long as possible and we have to treat them better. I don’t think we’ve been treating our players in the manner that they should be accustomed to. We must make them important.
“That’s why over the years, we moved them up from economy class to first class … we got better hotels, we treated them better. I think the president and the board have now got to reach out to these players and make them feel wanted.”