Former West Indies captain Clive Lloyd believes excessive cricket has contributed to India’s current rocky phase.
Being a World Cup-winning captain himself (1975 and 1979), Lloyd appreciates the contribution and brilliance of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, but reckons there must be some monitoring with regards to his workload. However, he does not call for his sacking as Test captain.
Sixty eight-year-old Lloyd was in Mumbai to deliver a talk on leadership for a bank.
Excerpts from an interview:
Mumbai is a special place for you. You made your debut here in 1966-67 and got your highest Test score of 242 in 1974-75.
Yes, indeed. India on the whole is special for me. I played my first Test here and led the West Indies for the first time in this country apart from my highest score.
What do you remember of your debut Test at Brabourne Stadium in 1966-67?
It was quite funny because I did not expect to play. Seymour Nurse got injured half an hour before the captain (Garfield Sobers) announced the team and I was in. I had no time to get nervous. I remember the Brabourne Stadium atmosphere and I am sorry it is no longer a Test match venue. It's a great place for cricket, a ground with a lot of tradition.
Interestingly, you got your highest Test score at the new venue, the Wankhede Stadium.
Yes. It was a great series. There was a packed house and it was very, very exciting.
Indian cricket is enduring a rocky phase. What do you make of it?
I read Sunil Gavaskar’s and Imran Khan’s views on the influence the Indian Premier League (IPL) is having on Indian cricket. I think the players are stale.
You can’t just go off the boil just like that and I don’t think the guys are realising the amount of cricket they are playing. I was hoping for a better schedule overall. A couple of years before the IPL, there were people who were saying they were tired and needed a rest. Now, we don’t hear that anymore (laughs).
The money is good but the body can take only that much.
The little guy we have – (Sunil) Narine. He’s probably a very good bowler, but he has been thrown into Test matches one day, the IPL another day and at such a young age it is very difficult to adjust to all those games so quickly.
The other thing is that you see all the young players now thinking that you have to hit the ball over the boundary otherwise you are not going to be selected.
So we are not going to see many cover drives which players like (Sunil) Gavaskar and (Gundappa) Vishwanath used to execute. Today’s players will try and hit it over covers. So you (selectors) have to allocate wisely as to which guys will adapt to each format.
Do you feel MS Dhoni has too much on his plate since he leads India in all three formats?
He has a lot on his plate. Don’t forget he keeps wickets too, so he has to concentrate every ball. It is not that he fields in the outfield where the ball will come to him once in a while. Everybody can only take that much. Sometimes you don’t even know when you are mentally tired.
Do you think it will be a good idea to relieve Dhoni of the Test captaincy?
It depends on him. He’s done excellently as captain of India. Now, here is where the administrators and coaches come in – to evaluate whether he needs a rest. Cars break down and they are made of steel. You must think about whether they are playing too much cricket and are they playing to potential. India have some good players.
How much of a negative influence is Twenty20 cricket?
This is how I look at it: Twenty20 is an exhibition while Test cricket is an examination. And once you can decipher which is which and select people according to their skills (things will be fine).
You can be a good Test player and need not be a good one-day player.
Young people would want to play as much as possible, earn much as possible, but coaches should know if the guys are tired. They have quite a lot of Tests and one-dayers now.
People were talking about the ball swinging (laughs). That happens to every Test player. That’s why it (Test cricket) is an examination of your skills. If you can’t play the swinging ball, you are not going to put runs on the board. The ball has swung forever so you can’t use that as an excuse. The point is that you have to play and show your class.
You headed the ICC’s Cricket Committee until last year. Were you surprised at India’s aversion to the DRS?
I just wondered why they never sort of embraced it. The bowlers are not going to get the wickets they get. I don’t think it is fair (to refuse to use it). If everybody is using it (DRS), it should be a union.
You don’t buy the argument that the technology is not perfect?
I don’t think anything is going to be 100 per cent (perfect). If you are getting 90 per cent right at least the right people will win. That’s the point of it; things are trying to be resolved through the review system.
These are sad times for cricket. Tony Greig departed and after that, broadcaster Christopher Martin-Jenkins…
It’s unfortunate that we lost both these men. Tony and me played in the same Rest of the World team that figured in Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket. He was a very strong character. I admired Tony and I am really sorry he has left us so early. I hope his family copes well.
Tony Greig will forever be linked with the ‘grovel’ comment he made before the 1976 series against your West Indies team. Did you forgive him for that word?
I thanked him for it. He gave us a motivating word. I suppose it was not the right word to use, but it motivated my players. I did not hold anything against him for that.