EX-NATIONAL and West Indies batsman Larry Gomes has pointed out that the lack of English county cricket exposure for WI players is a key factor in the team’s struggles, especially at the Test level.
The West Indies suffered their fourth straight Test defeat, all in the space of three days, when they were trounced by hosts Bangladesh, by an innings and 184 runs, in the Second Test at Dhaka yesterday.
According to the 65-year-old Gomes, the absence of current WI players on the English county circuit “is one of the factors” for the team’s decline.
“In our time, most of the guys played county cricket,” said Gomes, who played for Middlesex from 1973-76. “Since (the English and Wales Cricket Board) limited the overseas players, that sort of pushed us out the window. Our players don’t get that opportunity to play in England like before. You were more professional, playing day-in, day-out. Unfortunately, our players don’t have that experience or exposure of playing in England.”
Gomes, like many ex-WI greats, had his say in the feeble state of the regional team, at the Test level.
“It’s sad,” he admitted. “It’s a different era now. Test cricket, I wouldn’t say, is dying, but is not as popular as the other formats of the game.
“It’s sad to see where we were at one time to just fall so far down in the rankings. I don’t know if it’s the fault of the T20s why players are not applying themselves, concentrating longer and thinking about the longer version of the game.
“We can play with more heart and (show) more pride in the performances… and think about the West Indian people. It’s sad to see but it’s a changing world. The players of today are focusing, I think, mostly on the shorter versions of the game.”
On the topic of T20 cricket, Gomes commented, “T20 is more entertainment. You can’t really blame the players. The lifespan of a cricketer is short, so they have to look after themselves. (Cricket West Indies) will have to try and do something to compensate the players if you want them to play the longer version of the game.”
He added, “We have to find a way to try to get our best players to play the five-day version. We wouldn’t have our best team at any (given) time, whether it’s the T20 or the 50-overs or the Test matches.”
Gomes was a guest at the Past Cricketers Society dinner and award function at the Queen’s Park Oval, St Clair on November 24. The veteran of 60 Tests (3,171 runs at an average of 39.63) and 83 ODIs (1,415 runs at 28.87), from 1976-1987, acknowledged, “I was here last year (when) they honoured me. It’s a fantastic thing that they’re doing.”
Sir Gary Sobers was among those honoured this year while another invited guest, Sir Wes Hall, was honoured at the 2017 edition.
“Wes was one my first managers in the West Indies Under-19 team. I played against Gary in the English county, in his last year with Nottinghamshire and I was with Middlesex. We’re all getting on with age now, Gary looks good, Wes not that great but he still looks well for his age.”