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Richards reveals Gibson doubts

West Indies batting great Sir Vivian Richards today voiced surprising personal concerns about the hosts' new coach Ottis Gibson.

West Indies batting great Sir Vivian Richards today voiced surprising personal concerns about the hosts' new coach Ottis Gibson.

Richards still recalls Gibson's laid-back behaviour during the second and final Test of the Barbadian's career, which the West Indies lost to South Africa at Cape Town in 1999.

Gibson, who quit as England bowling coach to take over in charge of his native team at the start of this year, has a near immediate chance to impress as the West Indies set out to try to win the ICC World Twenty20 on home ground.

Yet on the eve of the tournament, Richards admitted to some qualms about Gibson's previous attitude.

"It's nice to know that at least we have got someone who is home-based in charge of the team," he said.

"I guess supporters will be quite happy to see Ottis in place. I think he's a nice guy."

That, though, is as far as Richards' endorsement goes.

"I have had one memory over the years. I always remember the West Indies losing in South Africa.

"I saw the now present coach Ottis Gibson with his two feet on the balcony, earphones in.

"West Indies were just about to go down the chute - and he was having fun, where the music was concerned.

"That has left an impression on me, seeing him in the present position he is now.

"That is not saying he will not be a good coach, but I doubt he would like to see one of his players [behaving as he did] at that particular time, with him being in the position he is now.

"I will back him to do well, but I hope lessons have been learnt from the past for us to move forward.

"He may prove a lot of folks wrong - that's the only poor mark I would put on his resume."

Richards is naturally hoping for a bold show from the tournament hosts - but admits he is concerned about the detrimental impact slow pitches are likely to have on the spectacle.

Speaking at a Johnnie Walker event - at which he was backing the anti drink-driving campaign 'Be a Giant' - he expressed disbelief that slow bowlers may be able to hijack the occasion.

"I'm concerned about these slow, low pitches," he said.

"When you have a format as exciting as Twenty20 we need to continue that lively sense of things.

"Slow tracks sometimes do take away what the whole Twenty20 game is about - and I just hope that, for the groundsmen's sake and for our sake in the region, we just come to grips with that.

"It is tough to hear you talk about spinners coming into any match and doing well - that is ludicrous, in my opinion.

"Spinners should come into play more so in the longer formats - but when you are looking to sell this Twenty20 stuff and get more bums on seat it is of vital importance that the wickets are true enough.

"For a game as exciting as Twenty20, we do not need to see where a spinner is the greatest thing on earth. That takes away what the Twenty20 is all about."

Richards' mood was lightened by confirmation from the International Cricket Council that the stadium named after him in Antigua is deemed fit for purpose again.

Last year's West Indies-England Test lasted only 10 balls at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium - before the match was switched back to the Recreation Ground in St John's - and the ICC investigated the reasons behind the poor preparation of the outfield.

Richards described it at the time as one of the worst days of his life.

Today, he said: "There has been lots of improvement - but let's wait and see when cricket takes place.

"On that particular day, I remember saying it was like a dagger going through your heart.

"It was a heavy, heavy blow. But it's nice to know we have moved on and that we have made sure everything is in perfect order to start cricket again.

"I hope there will be no more hiccups in future."
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