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West Indies decline has been gradual and even before this current batch started playing: Bishop

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Harare, July 2 (PTI): West Indies cricket’s “gradual decline” reminds Ian Bishop of those big business entities of yesteryears which didn’t evolve with time and perhaps will never regain its lost glory.

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Bishop, a fearsome fast bowler of late ’80s till mid ’90s, is hurt like any other Caribbean cricketer after watching Shai Hope’s team being thrashed by Scotland as the former champions failed to qualify for the ODI World Cup for the first time in 48 years.

Bishop believes that it will be wrong to point fingers at the current crop of West Indies players for this deterioration started way back.

“Yes, it has been a gradual decline. I’ve always said this pre-dates this group of players. We haven’t played consistently good ODI cricket against the top nations for perhaps a decade now. The T20 team, after having been two-time champions, they have slid,” Bishop told ‘ESPN Cricinfo’.

The 55-year-old, who has 161 Test and 118 ODI wickets, believes that lack of vision has been one of the biggest reasons that has led to this day.

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“So like big corporations who were at one time at the peak of their powers, and then through, I suppose, a lack of vision or whatever you want to call it, they disappeared off the business scene, (and that is what has happened) for West Indies cricket, two-time world champions, who popularised the field for ODI cricket,” he said.

“…..we need all hands on board to get the representation back to where it needs to be.”

Bishop was clear that even if West Indies can claw their way back towards the  upper echelons of the game, they wouldn’t enjoy the pole position like they did four or even three decades back. And reasons aren’t just cricketing one.

“We will never dominate like we did in the ’80s and the first half of the ’90s. I think other teams around the world are too good. We have serious economic challenges in the Caribbean, which the authorities around the world have to look at.

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“But I still think when I look at, for example, where Zimbabwe were, and the troubles they have gone through, and how well they have played in this tournament, I think we have enough there to do even better next time around, if there is synergy,” he added.

Bishop also urged fans to be practical as he feels that socio-economic environment from the time West Indies were a cricketing power-house has completely changed.

“I think it is a different time. What motivated Sir Vivian Richards and Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes and Clive Lloyd, globalisation has sort of dissipated that. So the motivations are now different, and I accept that.

“If it is more financial and economic, then we have to ride with that time and provide experiences and platforms where the players gravitate towards that,” he cited possible reasons.

“I wouldn’t say that the pull that was evident for the players of the ’60s and ’70s should be the same in the 2000s. So we have to identify what the myriad desires are and they will be different for each player.”

But the skill levels for surviving in longer formats have also dipped.

“There is still, as I speak to players, a desire to play for West Indies, but there are not as many of that calibre as there may have been in times past.”

Bishop also wants that there shouldn’t be any knee-jerk reaction and head coach Darren Sammy and skipper Hope should be persisted with.

“We have changed captains and coaches. We now have to give support and time to the incumbents and make sure we give them the support staff. Zimbabwe, in this tournament for example, have done it with minimal playing resources, so why can’t West Indies if they concentrate on their pool?”



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