Sir Viv Richards laments lack of West Indies unity

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The Independent Online

Sir Viv Richards believes that the unity which helped launched the West Indies to the pinnacle of world cricket in the 1970 and 80s is missing from the modern side who are hamstrung by infighting between the Players' Association and the WICB.

A new absorbing documentary about West Indian cricket has opened in cinemas across England offering a reminder in its glory days when the Caribbean nations obliterated all comers.

The film, 'Fire in Babylon,' captures how the West Indies built their fearsome pace bowling attack under the leadership of Clive Lloyd while focusing on the social and political implications of their play in unifying a collection of fractured islands unlike ever before.

West Indies batting legend Viv Richards, named in the top five cricketers of the 20th century by Wisden, is amongst a strong cast of interviewees to give detailed insight into the events of the era.

Richards said: "During the 70s and 80s there was a lot for us to rebel against.

"Because of what we had thrown at us, we had a statement to make about who we were.

"We proved what can be done. Even though we are separated by water we are still so close. Despite all the differences of language cricket was always one thing that brought us together."

That unity has eroded in recent years leading to the decline in West Indian cricket. Since their dominant 15 year run, where they won all 29 series played, the West Indies have fallen off the pace, now seventh in the ICC Test rankings, and one place lower for one day internationals.

Richards said: "There are some things that need correcting. There must be a cohesive unit, pushing for the same cause." Recently there have been squabbles between the Players Association and the board.

Talking about the team that dominated in the past, Richards said: "We had our differences but people were willing to put their bodies on the line on the field. We were professionals and like all professionals we always tried to at our best."

In contrast to the passion and meaning that was felt with every delivery during Richards' golden era, as portrayed in the documentary, mundane performances over the last decade has led to a decline in interest in the sport in the islands.

Richards said: "When you don't have success people will try and find other means. People are fickle that way. They will look for another form of entertainment when things aren't going well."

A transitional West Indies team are playing host to India on June 4 who they will play at T20, one day and in a three match Test series over the summer.

Richards said: "It's a tour the West Indies are looking forward to. The Indians are the 50 over world champions and even though there are rumours the Indians are bring a weaker team, they have good players in the wings.

"It will be a good opportunity for the team."

Fire in Babylon opened in cinemas last Friday and will be out on DVD from June 6.