MUMBAI, India – Legendary former captain Clive Lloyd believes the time has come to fight for West Indies players and ensure their careers are not ended prematurely by the politics of the game.
Lloyd, the West Indies chairman of selectors, was speaking in the wake of the decision by Champions League Twenty20 organisers to ban West Indies off-spinner Sunil Narine from bowling in the tournament, after he was twice reported by umpires for a suspected illegal bowling action.
The move came just days ahead the five-match one-day series between West Indies and India and Lloyd questioned the motivation behind reporting Narine, stressing that such a decision had the potential to end a player’s career.
“I can face that sort of situation to save a young man who has been plying his trade and all of a sudden now (this happens), it’s so destroying. It can destroy a team,” Lloyd fumed.
“You want to know if this is being orchestrated because if you lose your main bowler then it puts some pressure on the selectors and the team and so on. On those things, I find it very difficult that this is what something it is about.”
Recalling the case of West Indies fast bowler Jermaine Lawson, Lloyd said there were obvious double standards in world cricket and young Caribbean players needed a voice to argue their cause.
Lawson, a Jamaican who played 13 Tests for West Indies, saw a promising career derailed after his action repeatedly came under international scrutiny.
“The point is that I looked at the guy who was called Jermaine Lawson. He got seven wickets and a hat-trick in that seven and all of a sudden, the Australians said he is throwing,” Lloyd contended.
“He is happy to get things straightened out and he was passed. They (International Cricket Council) said he was fine, came back but went out of the game at the age of 22. I have seen a lot of people whose actions were very, very funny but they were still playing.
“I am unhappy with the way things have been done about West Indian players and I think it’s about time that we stand up (for) our youngsters.
“This is a young man (Narine), people adore him. People here in India love him. The rest of the people in West Indies are in awe of him. To have a thing like this just like that is not good for our game and for the game in general.”
On Saturday, the West Indies Cricket Board announced it was pulling Narine from the 14-man squad preparing for the first one-dayer in Kochi on Wednesday, in order to allow a further assessment for the player’s action.
But Lloyd, who led West Indies to triumphs in the first two World Cups in 1975 and 1979 and who was credited with moulding the side into a world class unit, said he would not be afraid to stand up for young Caribbean players in order to keep their careers alive.
“(Sonny) Ramadhin used to bowl just like Sunil and they said he threw but nobody called him. Nobody thought whether it’s 30 degrees or 15 degrees or whatever it is,” Lloyd said.
“Things are changing too fast the way cricket is concerned. I think it’s a good time we stand up for the players and I would be the first one to do so. I am disappointed with the way they have gone about things. I don’t think they should want to curtail somebody’s career because they could.”
Narine has played for Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League for the last three years, and has also played six Tests, 52 One-Day Internationals and 32 Twenty20 Internationals, without ever having his action reported.
However, he was flagged following KKR’s final preliminary game of the CLT20 last Monday and again last Thursday following the semi-final win over Hobart Hurricanes.
Lloyd, however, questioned the validity of judging a bowler’s action without the use of technology.
“I don’t think the naked eye could just tell you that Sunil … you have the technology and it should be able to tell you that. Not the two umpires,” Lloyd argued.
“If they think, then it should be discussed. When you are thinking about somebody’s livelihood, you have got to be careful.”
He added: “You cannot play with people’s emotions and their livelihood. I think there must be a better way of doing the right things. I think it is wrong that one of our best bowlers is being penalised ahead of an important tour like India where spinners over the years have done extremely well.
“This guy has been bowling well for years in India and overseas. ICC top referees have seen him. They haven’t called him. How come all of sudden this is happening?” (CMC)