Johnny’s work will ensure troubles are sent to the Grave
DESPITE living in Antigua and enjoying all the trappings of the life on a Caribbean island, there would have been plenty who didn’t envy the size of the task facing Johnny Grave when he assumed the role of chief executive of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) back in January.
Players at war with the governing body, a dismal run of results in both Test and one-day cricket and the embarrassing prospect of having to qualify for the World Cup they won so handsomely in 1975 and 1979 were just some of the issues waiting for him as he settled down in the hottest seat in global cricket.
Now, almost seven months on, Grave still appears relatively sanguine about the size of the task facing him and is looking forward to attempting to hand his home country a bloody nose over the next month and a half.
Speaking to The Cricket Paper from Miami, where the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) is in full swing, Grave is in bullish mood after helping to broker a truce between some of West Indies cricket’s biggest names on the eve of the England tour.
“It has been a busy six months,” he says.“It has been full-on, I think I’ve had about two days off since I arrived.
“Having worked with a lot of the West Indies legends, they have said in the past that the West Indies Cricket Board is a bit of a shambles and the opportunity to come across and hopefully make a bit of a difference was too good to turn down really.
“We don’t have a talent problem, it’s still the number one sport in the region.We’ve got 115 professional cricketers who are getting paid, in Caribbean terms, a decent wage. The under-19s won the World Cup last year and they’ve just beaten South Africa in their backyard which is as tough as it gets in international sport. “I don’t think talent is an issue.” What is, is harnessing that talent and ensuring that the West Indies have everyone pulling in the same direction for the good of the sport. The growth of T20 and the millions on offer to the likes of Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine and Dwayne Bravo have only served to further muddy the waters.
“It’s a shame we’re only playing one T20 in the series,” he says.“I think we’ll be very competitive in both the one-day series and the T20 series. The amnesty won’t see a massive change to the line-up, but if you put three very experienced players into our one-day side, it’s a different team entirely.”