Sir Viv Richards says West Indies must grab chance to lift Caribbean cricket

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A report by Paul Eddison for the Evening Standard.

Edgbaston plays host to the first day-night Test on English soil but for West Indies the match will have more far-reaching consequences, according to Sir Viv Richards.

Regarded by many as the greatest batsman since Sir Don Bradman, Richards says defeat under the lights would see a golden opportunity to revitalise cricket in the Caribbean go begging.

While England are hot favourites, Richards has urged the team led by Jason Holder to at least compete in the three-Test series. “The West Indies have a duty to come to this part of the world and give a good account of themselves,” said Richards.

“If they do that, then that’s where the pink ball can maybe have a future. But if we come here and we fall down, that I think will set us back big time.

West Indies enter the series missing a host of big names, with arguably the biggest being Chris Gayle, who is playing T20 cricket almost exclusively these days.

All-rounder Dwayne Bravo and spinner Sunil Narine are also missing from what is a youthful squad but Richards questions whether they would have made an impact on this tour.

Speaking at the launch of the Lord’s Taverners Wicketz programme, he said: “I think these guys are good enough where T20s are concerned and the 50-over stuff. I’m not quite sure if they have had some heavy success in the Test match series itself.

“It would be nice to have some players who are renowned in the team but I believe that regardless of who is here, they have got to find a solution about how they are going to try to get the West Indies back on the right foot.”

If the tourists are to trouble England, one man who could be key to their chances is fast bowler Alzarri Joseph, who helped the Windies win last year’s Under-19s World Cup. Sir Curtly Ambrose, a scourge of England in the 1980s and 1990s, says Joseph can make an impact in this series.

Ambrose said: “The few Test matches he has played so far, he has done reasonably well.

“He just maybe needs to get a little stronger but that will come over time. I’m sure you will see him feature in this series.”

The Wicketz programme is delivered by the UK’s leading youth cricket and disability sports charity, the Lord’s Taverners. Go to lordstaverners.org to find out more.

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