Live Interview with Winston Benjamin, Southampton

30 June 1996

srini: Who do you think are the best batsman and the best bowler? Who do you think was the toughest to bowl at?

Winston: Don Bradman was the best player. But, I have never seen him. Recently, I think it is Viv Richards. I consider Richard Hadlee to be the best bowler. The toughest I found to bowl to was Gordon Greenidge.

Amol: Who do you think are the best batsman and bowler right now?

Winston: It has to be Mark Waugh. But Lara and Tendulkar are very close behind him. I think Ambrose is the best bowler.

JaniSega: Who do you think is the best Captain?

Winston: Mark Taylor.

srini: West Indies in the past had lot of great pace bowlers. However, in the recent times, there do not seem to be that many. What do you think is the reason? Waning interest? Other sports influence?

Winston: I dont think that is the reason. It is mainly because of the board and its politics and because of them not seeing past their nose.

Amol: As a follow-up question, what is your comment on the board's treatement towards you? Was that due to that Guyanese writer?

Winston: That was not a writer. It was a local chap. He was making fun of me... I spoke exactly what was in mind...

dun: What do you think of match fixing?

Winston: I was never in such a match. But I heard of it. I was once approached by a man. I was young at that time, but still thought better.

lkg: Which one do you consider the best pace-pair? Waqar/Wasim or Courtney/Curtley?

Winston: It is difficult to choose the best pair.. You have got 4 great fast bowlers right there... Call it a dead heat, as on their day either one could outbowl the other pair.

AmolK: A curious question. What do test cricketers eat during lunch time? Full lunch or as little as possible? I have always wondered...

Winston: They eat normal stuff! When I'm bowling I do not eat - I drink a lot. Otherwise normal lunch.

cricky: Whom would you rate as the best allrounder starting from the 80's times....Kapil or Imran ?

Winston: I'd have to say Imran Khan, given that choice.

srini: How about all-time?

Winston: I have never seen Sobers play, but people generally seem to think he is the best. It is hard to say because I've never seen the guy play.

VKFan: Would it be fair to say that you are an inconsistent bowler - brilliant one day, ordinary the next? A "bursty" wicket-taker perhaps?

Winston: Yeah, you could say that. It's probably fair.

Amol: With Ambrose and Walsh both getting on in years, who do you think will comprise the next generation of the West Indies fast bowlers ? Any names we should watch out for ? Your opinion of Patterson Thompson ?

Winston: A young man named Mervyn Dillon in particular. Look for him after one or two years - plays for Trinidad. Marlon Black also of Trinidad. Ricky Christopher is another one. Rian King of Guyana.

Caen_taco: Winston, what do you feel about the umpiring standards in India? For instance, Malcom Marshall, for one, had said in the past that Indian Umpires were loath to give Sunil Gavaskar out.

Winston: Well, I cannot comment about what Malcolm Marshall says. In the past there have been some dubious decisions. I'm not going to put it down to Indian Umpires. Some umpires tend to lose concentration and make bad decisions. It happened here in England recently. There were some "tobacco decisions".

ssaa: What is the greatest moment of your test career?

Winston: The Barbados test match 1988 vs Pakistan.

PakHeart: What do you think of your performance in that match?

Winston: I had a good score there of 40 (not out) and helped the team in the win.

PakHeart: But wasn't Dujon out?

Winston: I can't say. Marshall was batting with him.

Yaqman: What do you think of the current Pakistani team?

Winston: Pakistan have a good team. The problem I notice they have is they tend to panic too quickly. Instead of assessing the game and doing what they have to do, they tend to panic and give their wickets away at times.

lkg: Which West Indian captain did you enjoy playing under the most? Which team is your favourite opponent?

Winston: The captain I like to play under is Desmond Haynes. No real favourite opponent.

Vicks: Winston: What is your opinion on full time bowlers as captains? They seem to have a tendency of over-bowling themselves.

Winston: You have a few who do. They know what they can do and if it means they have to bowl a little extra, so be it. Generally, I don't think they overbowl themselves.

Amol: Back to discipline. Kenny Benjamin has apparently been dropped due to violating dress code, Ambrose was disciplined. Kambli was dropped for allegedly drinking. Do you think cricket attempts to control off-field behaviour too much? That is, the younger generation of players are having trouble adjusting to it ? Especially if the violations don't directly affect performance...

Winston: Cricket in general tends to want to control your life, not just cricket, off the pitch. What we need to do is concentrate on the pitch. A professional knows what he needs off the pitch. You are a human like anybody else. Why should you be any different?

anoop: Which team do you think personally is the best test playing nation today and why?

Winston: I've got to give it to Australia because they are more consistent recently. They beat us, and we were supposed to be the world champions. It is fair to say that they are... at the minute. We will have to see what happens at the end of the year.

shariq: I was wondering what your plans are for the future. Any chances that we see you in the West Indian squad in the near future?

Winston: Definitely none whatsoever! I am going to be a bum on the beach for a couple of months and see what my options are from there on.

Sentil: How do you feel to be in the midst of cricket starved fans getting up-to-date information on Cricket through CricInfo?

Winston: I am having lots of fun!! Keep asking questions and I'll be here all night if you want me to!

lkg: Whom do you favor to win the next Red Stripe cup?

Winston: We are the champions. We will remain the champions, until they find a team that can beat us, Leewards will always be the champions for me.

Vicks: Sri Lankans slog in early overs. I may say that this was from the West Indies openers, and then Srikkanth. But some people think that this is going to kill the game. Your comments please.

Winston: There are rules governing the games, and if you think that to have an early slog is the way to win, why not do it? It simply means that others have to catch up. It means more entertainment rather than killing the game. West Indies did that in the early days. Its nothing new, but because nobody else wants to take the chance its complicated nowadays. Sri Lankans came up with a thing that has been done before and upset everybody else. It is a "cat and mouse" game.

anoop: What are your opinions on Sri Lanka's performance in the World Cup? How do you rate their chances in test matches?

Winston: Limited over game is very different to Test cricket. Everybody should realise that. Test cricket is a different game, you have to concentrate for longer periods. It would be interesting to see what the Sri Lankans are like. They have some good players, they should be given the full opportunity to prove to the world that they are ready, like the South Africans did. Let them have a full tour (to wherever) and let them show the world that they are really ready, rather than assume that they are not.

Vicks: What do you think of Sanath Jayasuriya? A lucky pinch hitter or a bat with good techniques and good eye, who takes calculated risk?

Winston: I've played against Jayasuriya and he never did well, but clearly he has some talent. That is why he has been in the SL team for a long time. His job was to go and play the way he did and it works for him. You could say luck, you could say a lot of things. Thats the way he can play. Maybe he's just an attacking play who was forced to curb his natural aggression and that was not his style. He may do well in one day cricket and not so well in 4/5 day cricket.

shariq: Winston: what do you think about the legitimacy of Muralitharan's action? In my opinion when Murali bowls the faster ball his arm does not go over smoothly and prior to the point of release there is a pause and then suddenly his arm picks speed as his elbow straightens up. What is your assessment?

Winston: Well, I'm one of those guys who thinks that he chucks anyway. I hope that answers your question!

Yaqman: What do you think of the bouncers limit rule? I think it is not fair as the Pakistanis couldn't take advantage like the English did ?

Winston: The problem with England is they don't give people the time to settle in. Other teams give guys the time to settle in and be confident. The only way England can combat that is by bringing in rules to suit their cricket. Why don't we simply let cricket be cricket as it was and just let the best man win?

shariq: You were a potential all rounder in the making. How much extra effort does it take to excel in both? Also you were, in my opinion, the fastest bowler in the world, and then you faded away from the cricket scene. Was it a case of burnout or politics on part of the West Indian selectors?

Winston: First part first: You got to be mentally strong to be an all rounder, as well as physical strength.

I was probably the fastest bowler for about a month, yes. I faded away, yes, but not from burnout. It was from politics, disillusion, people knocking me and not giving me a chance. Basically given a bad omen by people who dont even know who you are.

Amol: Back to disclipline. Do you think that Ambrose, Kambli and Kenny Benjamin situtations are partly due to the fact that cricket is run by mostly an older generation that has a different view of things ? For example, discipline in the NBA is much worse than cricket - but there is nowhere near the same kind of control expected by the men in charge. Do you think things will improve with Lloyd/Marshall - more contemporary players in charge ?

Winston: I don't really know the Kambli situation so I can't comment on that. You mentioned something earlier about drinking... as a sportsman you let your drink get in the way of cricket. It is an uphill battle. I've seen him play before I think he has potential. I'd like to say, "give up the drinks and focus on the cricket and let your performance do the talking or drinking for you."

Cricket is a gentleman's game, that is why there have been so many rules and regulations. In NBA you pay the price for whatever misconduct and that's that. In cricket you're talking about bans, droppings etc. Maybe we need some young blood, some imagination, let people be themselves instead of trying to make them into somebody else.

Caen_taco: Winston, what do you think of the West Indies bid for hosting the world cup in 2007? Do you think it will be a total success?

Winston: I think it's a total farce. They say they don't have money to host a whole tour, how in God's name can they hold the World Cup? Where is the money coming from? Please tell me if you have the asnwer!

ssaa: Why did Richie Richardson lose his confidence so much that he had to bow out of International cricket and had to wear helmet to be safe?

Winston: I looked upon Richie once upon a time as a very honest and upright individual but I have found out that it is not so. I don't know if the fatigue/disease syndrome affected his mind/brain. After coming back from the illness he was a different personality. He lost confidence, belief. If the helmet makes you feel confident that you can continue, then that is that.

azzie: Have you gotten to watch any of the International cricket this summer? And if you have how do you rate the Indian new ball pair of Srinath and Prasad? Especially would like comments on Prasad.

Winston: Prasad is probably the find of the tour. I am very impressed with his control and pace. It is good to see that India has got a decent attack in those two guys. They can only get better. I hope they leave Prasad to do his own thing and improve on his cricket, and not try to change him.

Brad: The recent Pakistan performance against Glamorgan. It has been the batsmen who dominate. Tell us something anout the English wickets and how can Wasim and Waqar do the same thing like 1992?

Winston: I think Wasim and Waqar know exactly what they're going to come up against. It is going to be slow, not a lot of pace, its going to be hard work. I hope they do well - I wish them all the best.

lkg: Do you think the 12 team format in the world-cup is better than the 8-team (or the 9-team as was the case in australia)? Do you think it dilutes the competition? What do you think about the introduction of the quarter-final stage?

Winston: It just means that you get a chance to see more players. I didn't see a lot of it (I was anti-cricket then!) but from what I've heard it was a success.

Rohan: Can you give some comments on ball tampering?

Winston: I've never come across it, never tried it and although the press often chastise people for it, I've never come across anyone doing it myself. One thing to add. Batsmen are allowed to use as heavy a bat as they want, why aren't bowlers allowed to do smiilar things with the ball for their own benefit as well?

shariq: Do you think Wasim and Waqar tamper with the ball? How prevalent is ball tampering among present fast bowlers and the fast bowlers of the past couple of generations?

Winston: Depends on what you consider by tampering. From what I've seen it appears that there may be a bit of workmanship, but you can't really say! As I said, batsmen can use any bat, if the bowler wants to scratch the ball for his benefit, let him have a go - nothing wrong with that!

Amol: You've talked about politics in West Indies selections. If you were to pick an 11 without politics, what would it be, for WI at the moment ? (and please dont be modest - please include yourself, if needed)

Winston: I will start with myself as captain. (just kidding)

Winston: Start with the captain: Walsh, then Campbell, Stuart Williams, Robert Samuels, Lara, Chanderpaul, Jimmy Adams, Dave Joseph, Curtly Ambrose, Kenny Benjamin, Ian Bishop, Vasbert Drakes, Cameron Cuffy (who hasn't been given a real chance yet), Roland Holder.

Winston: Two keepers would be Jacobs and Junior Murray. I wouldn't include myself because I have decided that I am not interested anymore. That would be my touring team for Australia. Carl Hooper excluded because he's outside at the moment, but once he's fit I will include him in my team.

Caen_taco: Winston, what do you think of the ICC chairmanship issue? There seems to be an effort on some peoples part to have Sir Walcott continue for another term.

Winston: I don't think about it - I'm not interested!

shariq: Winston you have played with Logie and Harper who in my opinion are the most brilliant fielders of all times along with Jonty Rhodes. Rank the three if you please.

Winston: Harper, then Rhodes, then Logie for me.

The reason I say Harper is because he can field anywhere close to the wicket and in the deep. I've seen Harper from slips to the boundary, including bat-pad, gully, and his own bowling. I haven't seen Jonty do all of that yet.

JaniSega: Is there a place for racism in today's cricket ?

Winston: That is something that cannot change. It is there, it will remain there. Change the things you can, and work around the things you can't. Simple.

Sentil: How do you perceive the idea of utility cricketers like Arthurton who can also bowl at times in One-day as well as Five-day cricket?

Winston: I think you are misled. Arthurton cannot bowl, period! In One-day cricket as you said though, anything can happen.

shariq: As you mentioned, you were the World's fastest bowler for a month. Was it because you had gone through some exercise and training regimen or was it a case of other fast bowlers being injured or not striving for pace.

Winston: Not really. I think I was more relaxed at the time. I didn't have a care in the world. I was a little upset and I tried to vent my frustration and bowl as quick as I could, luckily they were testing then. You could call it luck.

Caen_taco: How do cricketers stay fit? Any special exercises/dietary regimen?

Winston: Yes, they eat red meat!! Not very good.. If you are a big alcohol drinker cut down on that. Enjoy life - be a human being, not a robot! It is important to keep fit. Basically got to do a lot of leg, abdominals, back excercise. A few light weights on the shoulders, not too much needed there. Legs, abdomens and back. Otherwise you'll be like me, up today and down tomorrow.

Kapil: Say, in the ideal condition you can pick cricketers from other countries for the WI team (as a selector). Then who would you like to include among current players ?

Winston: In my team to play for WI, I'd have to say Mark Waugh and Tendulkar as my two batsmen so far. Shane Warne as my leg spinner. I'll have Wasim Akram from Pakistan and Salim Malik. England I'd have Mullally as my bowler. De Silva and Andy Flower from Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.

I think Mullally and Gough could lead the England attack in the near future if they are given the opportunities they deserve.

As for Cork - he's a little puffed up cocky little fellow. He only bowls well because he runs down the middle of the wicket and is never warned (I am not saying anything about umpires). If he is forced to go wider, as he should, we would see a very different bowler.

JaniSega: Your thoughts on the current Indian team?

Winston: A decent blend of good youngsters. However, highly unprofessional, the way they go about their cricket. If they had stuck to their task better, they are a better team than England, man for man.

shariq: What kind of a teacher and role model was the great Malcolm Marshall for you young aspiring fast bowlers in the West Indian squad?

Winston: I don't know for others. For me it was the competition and wanting to be the best there is. I never really saw much of Malcom Marshall. I saw him once in a while in magazines. Not much cricket on television back home. Radio... hearing people talking. Besides, I started bowling late. I was a wicket keeper batsman. I got hit by a short ball, and I wanted to get him back. After three years time I was bowling for the West Indies.

Amol: If you were cricket supremo of the West Indies, and could make any changes you wanted (infrastructure, money, selection process etc), what would you do ?

Winston: I would like to get somebody in with more vision. Someone who could see further than his nose. Get facilities around the Caribbean for people to have access. Get qualified coaches if need be, to teach these kids. Have them improve on their natural ability and not to change them. Have people watching the games instead of selecting teams from books and faces that fit. Simple game really, isn't it!

ormbr: I'm calling from Barbados. What was really the problem with you and the West Indies Board? You know you were dropped...

Winston: There were lot of things going on. Things said by the captain. As I said, I thought he didn't have any confidence in me. His reply was that it was time for me to get out of the team and get home. So I asked them to send me home but they said no - they refused.

That is something they are not telling you. When I was at Oxford, I had the flu and couldn't play. I was with Kenny and Ambrose. They said I was sick but kicking a football, and called me in the morning and sent me home for fitness and disciplinary reasons. If they are truthful, that is exactly the story they will tell you.

Vicks: What is your opinion about trash talking?

Winston: Sledging? I don't do it myself. But it's part of cricket. If you can do that and get somebody out, do it! If I can talk and you get out, why bowl?!

CASIO Photographs courtesy of Casio's QV-10 Digital Camera

Date-stamped : 07 Oct1998 - 04:33