reports from Bridgetown, Barbados
The West Indies turned to two old faithfuls in a bid to restore their former glory following Richie Richardson's announcement that he was stepping down from the captaincy at the end of the World Cup.
Courtney Walsh, the evergreen fast bowler who has stepped into the breach before, will take over as captain for the forthcoming two-Test series against New Zealand. He will be joined by the most successful international captain the game has known with Clive Lloyd taking over from Andy Roberts as coach.
The moves were announced last night by Steven Camacho, the chief executive of the West Indies Board and followed a day of confusion over Richardson's precise intentions.
It was reported through a Caribbean news agency at the start of the day that he would be retiring from all international cricket at the end of the competition, but Camacho said later that he had spoken to Richardson in Jaipur in India, and that he was only stepping down as captain.
Demanded for some time by several influential former team-mates and a public angered by a string of embarrassing defeats, Richardson's decision accentuates the turmoil that has engulfed West Indies cricket in the past year.
As captain, he has carried the brunt of the blame for the series loss to Australia 10 months ago that ended a proud record of 15 years unbeaten in Test cricket. He has also been held partially responsible for the indiscipline that has undermined his team and the shabby displays that hit rock bottom with the World Cup defeat by Kenya last week.
If he had not jumped of his own accord, it was almost certain he would have been pushed by the Board at its meeting in Antigua that coincided with his announcement.
Even before the Kenyan fiasco, former players such as Jeffrey Dujon, Joel Garner and Carlisle Best had called for his removal as captain, and Viv Richards, his fellow Antiguan whom he succeeded in 1991, added his influential voice only a few days before the African fledglings inflicted their humiliating upset.
Richardson's rift in England last summer with Lara complicated the captain's problems. Complaining that Richardson had been too soft on the trouble- makers in his ranks, Lara twice pulled out of the team in the space of six months. His reinstatement for the World Cup, with no preconditions, rankled with Richardson and was a powerful factor in his de cision.
Yet there is strong support to make Lara captain in the long term, a position for which he has been groomed since leading the West Indies Youth and 'A' teams in his formative years.
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