WEST INDIES great Lance Gibbs is not impressed by the current crop of off-spinners in the region, both at domestic and international level.
The 85-year-old Gibbs, who played 79 Test matches for the WI, from 1958-1976, was the first spinner to reach the 300-wicket milestone, and was also the leading wicket-taker in Test cricket (309).
However, he did not speak too highly on the present-day off-break bowlers in the regional game, during an interview on Tuesday on the Mason and Guest radio show.
“They’re not spinning the ball,” was his take on the current bunch of WI off-spinners.
Antiguan Rahkeem Cornwall is the newest off-spinner to play international cricket for the West Indies.
However, Gibbs questioned, “How could you take two steps and bowl? Where is your rhythm?
“As a spin bowler, you’ve got to use the crease. You’ve got the return crease and the stumps, and you bowl between those two.”
Gibbs added, “Cornwall must need a run-up and variation of pace. You can’t take two steps and bowl.”
Gibbs, who claimed 1,024 wickets in 330 First-Class matches for Guyana, Warwickshire (in England) and South Australia, expressed his displeasure in the current state of WI cricket.
“I am very disappointed in West Indies cricket,” said the Miami, Florida, US resident. “Let’s put things in the right perspective. The Twenty(20) cricket is a slog, and the young players are not putting their heads down and batting for a period of time. We need more 50-overs (cricket).
“Take (Shimron) Hetmyer for instance, he wants to hit the ball for sixes, you don’t bat that way. When I started playing cricket, I followed Everton (Weekes). Clyde Walcott was my hero in Guyana. They encouraged me and told me different things. You’ll want to talk with them, mix with them and do things that are right.
“Our youngsters, you see them, they don’t even come and say ‘hello’,” continued Gibbs. “How are you going to learn? You talk with the individuals who have gone through the mill, who know particularly well about the game and this will encourage you more to do well.
“Our fellas don’t mix and converse, they just go out and bat, they slog and that’s it. I’m very disappointed. The crowds are staying away, which is a poor example.”
Asked if he will want to get involved with WI cricket, in any capacity, Gibbs replied, “Why not? Anything that will help West Indies cricket put it back in the place that it should be.
“Cricket is the only thing that holds us together in the Caribbean, and this is why it must be encouraged.”
According to Gibbs, who served as manager of the WI during the 1991 tour of England, “The players must talk with one another, to the senior players, those who’ve been through the mill. They’ll (get) knowledge that they wouldn’t have to find out for themselves. If that knowledge is passed on, you wouldn’t stray away from the basics of the game.”
As a great, how does it feel to see the WI side now? “Very hurtful,” he responded. “Deep down inside, I’m very disappointed in the attitude of the players (and) the way they approach (the game).”