Legendary former West Indies captain Sir Clive Lloyd has taken the unusal step of reaching out to the West Indies players who have undertaken the tour of Bangladesh via an open letter, urging them to grab their chance.
Depleted West Indies Test and One-Day squads were scheduled to arrive in Bangladesh yesterday for two Tests and three ODIs after ten players, including Test captain Jason Holder and One-Day skipper Kieron Pollard declined to go on the tour because of fears over the Covid-19 pandemic.
The absence of those players has given opportunity to a number of fringe players to play at the highest level and Lloyd, who led the Windies to two World Cup titles in a 19-year career encouraged them to make a success of the tour.
“I thought that I would send you this message as I’m aware that you’re embarking on a tour which you probably weren’t prepared for and perhaps you feel like you’ve been thrown in the deep end and that people expect you to stand and deliver. What you should understand is that you have a chance of cementing a permanent place in the West Indies team and not merely filling a gap.
“You have been chosen on merit. This is your destiny. It is your opportunity to fulfil it. This is a perfect opportunity to demonstrate your talents and skills to the world and prove to all and sundry that you’re not second class cricketers. You can step up to the plate,” Lloyd wrote yesterday.
And drawing on his own personal experience, Sir Clive added: “In 1966 I was not selected in the original Test Team. Fortuitously, Seymour Nurse got injured and 45 minutes before the fist Test I was informed that I was playing and I played 35 straight Test matches because I performed well.
“We won the series. You see I recognised there was an opportunity to demonstrate my talent and capabilities and I seized it with both hands. Moreover, playing for the West Indies is one of the highest honours a citizen of the region can achieve. I believed it then and I believe it now.
“You have found yourselves in exactly the same position; therefore, the world is your oyster. This is your opportunity to prove yourself worthy of your selection and you should be proud to wear that West Indies blazer and cap. You are representing one of the best cricketing nations which possesses an enviable record of which we are very proud. Remember, we’re a nation of just over five million people.
“Our records include 29 Test matches without losing, 11 straight wins. For 15 years straight we never lost a Test series.
“This is just a snapshot of our exploits and achievements in the past. It took hard work, commitment and a sense of purpose to realise them. Above all I would advise that you pay close attention to your levels of fitness and seek at all times whether as a batsman or a bowler to refine your techniques and skills. My team did it and I am confident you can too.”
Sir Clive went on: “You now have the opportunity to improve our Test match rating and instil some pride again in the standard of our cricket. This is not just my expectation but that also of the entire Caribbean region. Your victory would be theirs also.
“Your trip to Bangladesh might look daunting but this task is not insurmountable. It is the ideal opportunity. With your determination, professionalism, youth and tenacity you can begin the dawn of a new era under the captaincy of the very astute Kraigg Brathwaite. Again, what I am saying to you is not idle speculation. It is based on my own experience.
“When I took over the West Indies cricket team, we had lost more than 20 Test matches on a trot and there was a clear need for rebuilding and a re-purposing of the team. I also had a number of untried players, as many of you might be. But my team did not flinch from the challenge and we eventually emerged on top. I am confident you can begin the necessary rebuilding of the West Indies team. We did it because we believed in ourselves. You can too. Self-belief is the first step to success.
“I would like you to remember this adage: ‘In order to gain altitude, you must have the right attitude’. A positive mental attitude will see you through many tight situations which I’m sure you will encounter during this tour.
“Lastly, success comes before work only in the dictionary. I wish you the best of luck. Please remember most people are judged by the obstacles they overcome.”
West Indies will begin their tour on January 18 with a One-Day warm-up match.