LONDON: Clive Lloyd was in charge of a West Indies side that is forever the emotional favourite of cricket connoisseurs who grew up in the 1970s and 80s. There have been other sides that have matched their achievements since then, but that West Indies side always evokes memories of a team that had style, flair, fearlessness and tons of grit.
The health of West Indian cricket in recent times has made Lloyd sad, however, and during a book launch here, the 73-year-old said: “It made me really sad sometime back when I saw players like Chris Gayle and Andre Russell playing franchise cricket at a time when the national team was in action. In fact, I sincerely believe that no one can be a legend playing T20 cricket. To attain that status, it’s imperative that you play for the country.” Lloyd spoke on a range of issues in a chat with TOI.
You were in charge of one of the greatest teams in the history of cricket. How easy or difficult was it to lead that side?
Yes, that was a fantastic side, but let me tell you, it was a difficult job leading that team. West Indies, unlike England, Australia, India or Pakistan, is not one country. It’s a number of islands with different cultures. So the most difficult part of the job was to bring them together and give them the feeling that everyone is playing for the same team. It was a difficult job, but I enjoyed doing it.
The Indian situation is somewhat similar to the West Indies situation. India, too, is an assimilation of cultures…
Probably you are right, but still they are playing under the flag of one country. When I was playing I had seen five different Indian captains – Tiger Pataudi, Ajit Wadekar, Bishan Bedi, Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev. They had their own distinctive styles. I found Bedi quite good. In recent times, it has to be Sourav Ganguly and MS Dhoni. Dhoni was such a fantastic captain you had. He was quite inspirational, a good tactician and led the team with a lot of authority. I liked his style of captaincy.
What’s your take on Virat Kohli the captain?
I think Virat is still a work in progress and it will take us some time to take a final call on his captaincy. But yes, he has shown positive signs. Yes, he is aggressive, but as long as he doesn’t cross the line, it’s fine by me. Aggression, after all, is not a bad thing.
And Kohli the batsman? Viv Richards said sometime back that Kohli’s batting reminds him of himself…
That’s Viv’s thoughts and I am not in favour of comparing generations. But there’s no doubt about the fact that Kohli is an exceptional batsman. He is doing a few great things for his country and if you ask me whether he would have made my side, I would say yes. In fact, Kohli would make a number of great sides across generations.
What about James Anderson? Would he have made it in your side?
Oh yes, why not? He is a terrific swing bowler and right up there with the best in the business. There’s a reason why he has got a such a huge number of wickets and I have always enjoyed watching him.
How do you see this series shaping up?
It was a terrific first Test (in Birmingham) and even though England won, it was a superb contest. In fact, you can say India could also have won the game and I hope it continues to be this competitive.
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