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Pay more attention to development: Sir Richie believes the key to improving regional cricket lies in grassroots

By Neto Baptiste

Former West Indies batsman and captain, Sir Richie Richardson, has warned that until real emphasis is placed on the development of the game at the grassroots level, regional cricketers will continue to struggle at the international level.

Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, the Antiguan said that trying to turn the fortunes of the team around at the senior level is not going to bear fruits.

“I don’t have a problem with a coach from wherever because they are going to bring some knowledge but our cricket don’t need to be fixed from the top. These coaches, they are the best and if they can do wonders then why not bring them into the grassroots of our cricket because that’s where we need to focus on. We need to focus on the youngsters before they get to West Indies level [but] you can’t fix the problem there. Maybe you could probably get into their minds to be a little more positive or understand certain things but the problem can be fixed long before they get there and until we take that seriously and take it from that angle, we are not going anywhere,” he said. 

The scorer of 5,949 runs in 86 Tests, Sir Richie, however, reminded that the decision to focus on development at the grassroots level will not yield immediate results.

“A change cannot happen overnight, so it’s going to be a long process and it’s what you do and how you prepare that is going to make the difference. Now, we all want instant success, we all are dying to see West Indies cricket come back to its glory days but I am real and I am shooting real straight, it is not going to happen. We might have one or two successes but until the fabric of our cricket is looked after or until the foundation of our cricket is looked after, it is going to be very difficult,” he said. 

The Antiguan also said that facilities will play a pivotal role in the development of the young cricketers, pointing to the quality of pitches being prepared across the region as something that needs immediate attention.

“If you’re playing football on a bumpy [uneven] field, do you think you can ever improve? You can’t. If you’re playing cricket on bad pitches, then how are you going to improve? You can’t, so firstly, the conditions that you play under has got to be good enough that if the ball pitches there the I am going to play a cover drive or if it bounces down there then I am going to hook but when it bounce down there and you look to hook it just shoots along the ground,” Sir Richie said.

“You’re developing and when you’re developing you need the bet conditions, you need the best pitches and if you’ve developed and become a rounded player, when you get in a bad situation then you would be able to make the adjustment but if you’re constantly playing on a bad pitch then you’d be nothing, your confidence will be dented and you’d not be able to develop,” he added.

Sir Richie captained the West Indies in 24 Tests between 1991 (when he took over from Sir Viv Richards) and 1995, winning 11, losing 6, and the rest ending in draws.

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