Bridgetown: Legendary former West Indies fast bowler Michael Holding has yet again slammed the West Indies Cricket Board's (WICB) management of the sport in the region and said its treatment of senior players leaves a lot to be desired.
In an interview with a British tabloid, Holding accused WICB chief executive Ernest Hilaire of arrogance and head coach Ottis Gibson of being unable to properly manage players. Holding also stated that the reason behind the absence of key senior players in the current England tour was the poor treatment meted out to them by the WICB.
"We have a chief executive, Ernest Hilaire, who thinks he owns West Indies cricket. He has the wrong attitude. He's very arrogant. He thinks he is always right and he doesn't listen to anyone," said Holding.
"Ottis Gibson needs to understand that the West Indies cricket team is not a boot camp. He needs to learn how to manage. A lot of senior players who should be playing in England have a very bad relationship with the board. They are unhappy with the treatment that has been meted out to them."
"The board should realise that the people it is dealing with are human beings - they are not commodities. They need respect, they need to be treated properly."
Holding pointed to the widely publicized fallout between the board and marquee batsman Chris Gayle that has led to the player's exclusion from the regional side for over a year now. Gayle criticised Hilaire and Gibson in a highly charged interview following the World Cup last year, and the board subsequently demanded an apology from the Jamaican before he could be considered for selection.
Though Holding acknowledged that Gayle should have been prepared for the fallout from his actions, he chastised the board for acting like "schoolboys". "Chris Gayle has to know there will be repercussions if you're critical of the board in public," said Holding, who took 249 wickets from 60 Tests.
"But the board has behaved like schoolboys. Instead of sitting down with him and trying to sort things out, they keep condemning the man and asking him to apologize."
He also took the WICB to task over their treatment of fast bowler Jerome Taylor, contending the board had discouraged the player with their fitness demands. The injury-prone Taylor has played 29 Tests and 66 one-day internationals but has not suited up in two years for the regional side.
Holding also lashed out at the board's persistence with Darren Sammy as captain, saying the move was damaging to the regional side.
"They want Sammy as captain, irrespective of whether it's good for the team balance or not. West Indies cannot afford to carry anyone while they are struggling in Test matches," said Holding.
However, captain Darren Sammy has come to the defence of under-fire Gibson, contending that the Barbadian had transformed the side into a committed, hard-working unit which is now reflecting the cricketing pride of the Caribbean.
"We've been going down at the bottom for the last 15 or so years and we kept doing the same things over and over [again]. Somebody said to me if you do the same thing over and over and expect change, you're crazy," the allrounder said.
"He came on board with a whole new set of ideas - [instilling] a determination to work hard for yourself and the team. [Looking after your] fitness. Like in most sports, the fitter you are the more you stand the chance of performing."
"He had gotten us to play a brand of cricket that the Caribbean fans will come out and watch, and see the determination," Sammy said.
Moreover, Sammy said under Gibson the side was now playing with a higher degree of aptitude.
"Even if we don't win, you could see the passion and... that we are competing against the higher ranked teams," Sammy said.
"So far, we have been able to do that and everybody who comes into the set-up, that's the set-up they're coming into. This West Indies team is a hardworking team and that's what we're building on."