Cricket: Richardson's rule has resilient quality: Captain revels in latest triumph

WHEN Richie Richardson became captain after Viv Richards's departure many West Indians feared for the future of their Test team, particularly as Gordon Greenidge, Jeff Dujon and Malcolm Marshall had gone at the same time also.

But Richardson has proved their concern unfounded. Yesterday's victory over England was the West Indies' seventh in 12 Tests under his stewardship against one defeat. The contrast with England's record (10 losses in their last 12 against one win) is an indication of the psychological difference that is a significant factor in this series. West Indies believe they will win and play like they do; England do neither.

Resilience and team spirit have become trademarks of Richardson's team and although England made promising starts in each Test (making 121 before losing a wicket on the first day of the series and 228 for 3 when the second new ball was taken an hour after tea on the opening here), they were never allowed to capitalise on them.

Curtly Ambrose and Brian Lara imposed themselves on this match but, as Richardson noted, others have contributed just as much to West Indies' lead in the series.

Kenny Benjamin has collected 15 wickets with his fast, direct line, Jimmy Adams has brought reliability to a previously fickle middle order and 19-year-old Shivnarine Chanderpaul confirmed the selectors' faith in his potential with a mature innings. And there are more where he came from.

Yet the West Indies went into the match with loaded revolvers and apparently every intention of shooting themselves in both feet. A dispute between the players and the West Indies board over match fees was revealed days before the match.

At about the same time Carl Hooper was charging the board with neglecting the back injury that has now put him out of the series. In the meantime the whole of Trinidad was in an uproar over suggestions that their opening batsman Phil Simmons should be dropped - as indeed he was.

It might have unsettled other teams, but throughout his tenure Richardson has somehow ensured nothing diverts the focus of his players. He was talking last night about the likelihood of another of the 'blackwashes' that were commonplace in the 1980s. Who was to doubt him?

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