By Neto Baptiste
Former West Indies captain Sir Richie Richardsonand former coach Sir Andy Roberts, have defended themselves against suggestions that they played a major role in the decision to drop fellow Antiguan and former fast bowler Winston Benjamin, during the regional team’s tour of England in 1995.
The duo had been accused by Benjamin in a recent interview, of “really wanting to get rid of me”, after the fast bowler had reportedly informed the team he was unable to play due to an injury.
Sir Richie, while speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, sought to debunk Benjamin’s claims.
“Do you think any captain can send home anybody? Anybody who understands how cricket boards operate and how the cricket system operates really thinks that can happen? On tour we had a committee and the committee consisted of the manager who was Wes Hall at the time, the coach who was Andy Roberts, myself as captain, Courtney Walsh as vice captain and Jimmy Adams as a senior player, so do you think that I, as a captain can go and say I am sending home anybody without consulting with the committee? Do you think a committee can just send home somebody like that without consulting with the cricket board who employs us and to whom we are accountable? We can’t just send home somebody; all we can do is recommend,” he said.
The former opening batsman, who scored 5,949 runs in 86 Tests, suggested that Benjamin’s demise was due to a lack of discipline and that it was himself and Sir Andy who would always make a case for his inclusion.
“In Trinidad, we were picking a team to go to England and David Holford, who was chairman of selectors and had a casting vote, was fed up of Winston. He [Holford] would be one of the first persons to tell you that he [Winston] was one of the most talented cricketers in the region and in the world, but he was tired and fed up of his attitude and his behavior, and for that tour he said he was going to use his casting vote to vote against Winston going. Sir Andy Roberts and I were there arguing for Winston Benjamin in that meeting,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sir Andy, the first Antiguan to play for the West Indies, said that despite claims by Benjamin that no one had ever reached out to him on the matter, is completely false, as he had personally addressed the matter with the former player.
“I am not calling Winston Benjamin a liar, but I believe that Winston had a lapse in memory because for Winston to say that he hasn’t spoken to anyone of us since that day is a boldfaced lie, because myself and Winston have had many days of this conversation. I can tell you that as the Antiguans who were part of the management in the captain [Richie Richardson] and the coach, we decided that we were going to be talking with the Antiguans as often as we can as to how we expect the Antiguans are going to behave,” he said.
Benjamin, in his interview, labelled Sir Richie “selfish”, and that the former captain had never liked him as a player. The fast bowler played his last Test on 29 April 1995 against Australia while ending his ODI career on 28 May 1995 against England.