Former WI skipper Clive Lloyd has written a heartfelt letter to the rookie Windies players who will be travelling to Bangladesh, motivating them to showcase their talent and grab the golden opportunity. Lloyd drew parallels between his own situation in 1966 when he received an unexpected call-up.
The West Indies cricket team will clash with hosts Bangladesh in three ODIs and two Tests starting January 20, but it will be a tour like no other, for the Caribbean nation will be without close to 10 first-team regulars. The likes of Jason Holder, Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell, Sheldon Cottrell, Nicholas Pooran, Shimron Hetmyer, Rahkeem Cornwall all opted out due to safety concerns, meaning the Windies were left with no option but to send a significantly weakened side. While the Test squad, led by Kraigg Brathwaite, still has a few senior names, the limited-overs team is completely filled with rookies and debutants, exemplified by the fact that the side is being led by Jason Mohammed, who has only played 27 ODIs in his career.
The Windies side, as a result, are already being looked down upon, but former West Indies skipper Clive Lloyd has stepped in and used the opportunity to motivate the youngsters. Lloyd, who led Windies to two World Cup titles, incidentally was handed a Test debut fortuitously, and in a heartfelt letter to the young Windies cricketers, the former skipper used his own situation as an example to point out the fact that what matters is not how one gets a chance, but rather how one makes use of the same. In his letter, the 76-year-old restated how the young cricketers have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and asserted how the task at hand was by no means insurmountable.
“Dear Guys, I thought that I would send you this message as I'm aware that you're embarking on a Tour which you probably weren't prepared for and perhaps you feel like you've been thrown in the deep end and that people expect you to stand and deliver. What you should understand is that you have a chance of cementing a permanent place in the West Indies Team and not merely filling a gap. You have been chosen on merit. This is your destiny. It is your opportunity to fulfill it. This is a perfect opportunity to demonstrate your talents and skills to the world and prove to all and sundry that you're not second-class cricketers. You can step up to the plate,” Lloyd wrote in his letter, reported ESPN Cricinfo.
“In 1966 I was not selected in the original Test Team. Fortuitously, Seymour Nurse got injured and 45 minutes before the 1st Test I was informed that I was playing and I played 35 straight Test Matches because I performed well. We won the series. You see I recognized there was an opportunity to demonstrate my talent and capabilities and I seized it with both hands. Moreover, playing for the West Indies is one of the highest honors a citizen of the region can achieve. I believed it then and I believe it now.
“You have found yourselves in exactly the same position; therefore, the world is your oyster. This is your opportunity to prove yourself worthy of your selection and you should be proud to wear that West Indies blazer and cap. You are representing one of the best cricketing nations which possesses an enviable record of which we are very proud. Remember, we're a nation of just over five million people.”
In the letter, the former Windies skipper also pointed out how the players not only have the opportunity to make a name for themselves, but also a chance to bring pride to the nation. The veteran cricketer also underlined self-belief as the ‘first step to success’.
“You now have the opportunity to improve our Test match rating and instill some pride again in the standard of our Cricket. This is not just my expectation but that also of the entire Caribbean region. Your victory would be theirs also.
“Your trip to Bangladesh might look daunting but this task is not insurmountable. It is the ideal opportunity. With your determination, professionalism, youth and tenacity you can begin the dawn of a new era under the (Test) captaincy of the very astute Kraigg Brathwaite. Again, what I am saying to you is not idle speculation.
“It is based on my own experience. When I took over the West Indies cricket team we had lost more than twenty Test matches on a trot and there was a clear need for rebuilding and a re-purposing of the team. I also had a number of untried players, as many of you might be. But my team did not flinch from the challenge and we eventually emerged on top. I am confident you can begin the necessary rebuilding of the West Indies team. We did it because we believed in ourselves. You can too. Self belief is the first step to success.”
The tour will kick off with the ODIs on January 20, the first of which will be played at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka.