Two Barbadian batting icons who formed a formidable opening partnership for the West Indies cricket team during the 1980s and early 1990s are not seeing eye to eye over the newest and shortest version of modern day cricket.
Both Desmond Haynes and Gordon Greenidge who are internationally recognised as two of the best to have ever played the game, publicly disagreed on the topic of Twenty20 cricket last night at the launch of a Barbados Museum and Historical Society’s discussion series in the Queen’s Park Steel Shed.
Twenty20 cricket is a topic which has been widely debated since the introduction of that format of the game at the professional level by the England and Wales Cricket Board back in 2003 for the inter-county competition in England and Wales. In this shortened form of the game, both teams have a single innings each which is restricted to a mere twenty overs.
Since the introduction of the format, former West Indies great Michael Holding who was a part of the golden age of West Indian cricket in the 1980s and a team-mate of Greenidge and Haynes, has trashed the format and even refused job offers to commentate on Twenty20 which in his view “isn’t cricket”.
“(Twenty20 cricket) will be all rubbish. I don’t even call that cricket. It’s Barnum and Bailey circus entertainment. Test match cricket is a test of your ability and your strength of character over an extended period.
“If you go through the short forms of the game you will see how many bad teams beat the good teams. In test match cricket you hardly ever see a bad team beat a good team,” Holding once said.
However, Haynes last night fully defended that limited overs form of the game.
“We can’t just go and knock T20 cricket and say we don’t watch it. We have to understand that we are living in times where the young people want instant, they don’t want to see any movie that will tell you ‘to be continued’. We have to buy into it, we have to find ways to see how best we can incorporate the fast cricket, slow one and medium,” he said.
Haynes, who played 354 international games for the West Indies, stated that Twenty20 cricket had helped to improve the standard of the sport at all levels.
“I am not going to sit here just because I played at a time where there was no T20 and say that T20 is destroying our cricket. T20 is not destroying our cricket. I was involved with the Tridents and I can tell you from a coach’s point of view that T20 has enhanced our fielding, our catching, it may not do a lot for our batting,” he said.
Unlike Haynes, Greenidge noted that T20 was indeed hurting local and international cricket, especially in the batting department.
“Are you seriously telling me that you don’t think that T20 has had a damaging effect, whether it is West Indies cricket or rural cricket? I’m not saying that it doesn’t have a place but it has created – not everywhere – but certainly in the Caribbean, a type of cricketer who only knows how to play T20 and you see it in the way they play the longer version of the game.
“My beef about this is that preference in the longer version of the game that you want to play would be fine, but when it comes to the longer game too much of that game is showed in the Test match. We fall down badly. We cannot put two innings together in any test matches,” said Greenidge, who played 236 international matches for the regional side.