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Thursday, 24 February, 2000, 17:19 GMT
Richards gracious in defeat


When the West Indies ruled the world....Viv Richards hits out against England at Headingly in 1976


Former West Indies captain Sir Vivian Richards has given his support to the man who beat him to the post of new national coach.

Roger Harper, the 36-year-old former West Indies and Northamptonshire all-rounder was given the job although Richards, the former captain, was the popular choice.

Harper: Wants the Windies to play more competitive cricket
"The most important thing is West Indies cricket," said Richards, the only West Indies captain never to have lost a Test.

"And we can never, ever forget the objective, which is the success of the team. The important thing to remember is that West Indies cricket is much bigger than individuals who make the decisions."

Harper, who played 25 tests and 105 one-day internationals between 1983 and 1995 (some of them under Richards), will take the helm with the national game at an all-time low.

West Indies lost both tests and all five one-day matches on their recent New Zealand tour.

Former captain Richards, who was interim coach for those matches, was turned down for the post.

He was the favoured choice of current skipper Brian Lara, who has resigned the captaincy in the wake of his side's slump.

Lara: Not at the top of his game
Richards' supporters believe that the West Indies Cricket Board chose to insist on a host of coaching qualifications in order to exclude the him from the running.

The WICB guidelines required the successful candidate to have an "advanced coaching certificate and certification or training in sports psychology and evidence of on-going development in the field, or a combination of training and experience as a test or first class player."

Antigua's sports minster Guy Yearwood has criticised the appointment.

"To be certified does not necessarily mean that you are the best man for the job. Knowledge of the game and experience are worth more than anything in this entire world," he said.

Richards played 121 Tests for the West Indies, scoring 8,540 runs.

But is is Harper who has the job of revitalising the fortunes of the once-great cricketing nation.

Harper, who has has coached the A-Team over the last three seasons, says the Test side needs to become more competitve - and that means playing more cricket.

Another priority will be the development of young talent.

"I think a problem is that a number of young players are coming into the team without much preparation.

"That is the key to the young players doing well."

"We also have to teach our youngsters properly, they need a properly structured coaching system. We need to get the youngsters and have them taught the basics at an early age and have a framework developed that allows the youngsters to progress through the various stages."

Harper's job starts with Test series against Zimbabwe and Pakistan, and a triangular limited overs tournament with those two sides, in the Caribbean between March 4 and May 29.

His assistant will be Jeff Dujon, another former West Indies Test player.

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See also:
29 Apr 99 |  West Indies
Richards asked to give Windies a hand
27 Jan 98 |  Cricket
Holding slams state of Windies cricket
10 May 99 |  West Indies
What next for Windies cricket?
17 Feb 98 |  From Our Own Correspondent
Decline Of Cricket In The Caribbean
09 Dec 97 |  Cricket
The rise and fall of the Windies
26 Dec 99 |  Cricket
Lloyd in need of a rest
05 Nov 99 |  Cricket
At a glance: Marshall tributes
Links to other Cricket stories are at the foot of the page.