Bengaluru, July 29: The decline of West Indies Test cricket has left legendary Indian batsman GR Viswanath "sad" and calls it "very unfortunate" the fall in the high standards they set in the past.
On Sunday (July 24), India thrashed West Indies by an innings and 92 runs in the opening Test of the 4-match series. The way Jason Holder-led side capitulated has disappointed 67-year-old Viswanath. (2nd Ind-WI Test preview)
Viswanath, who toured the Caribbean islands twice in 1971 and 1976, said it is taking a long time for West Indies to return to their best. (Kohli aims to whitewash WI)
In an exclusive interview with OneIndia on Friday (July 29), Viswanath, who played 91 Tests, shared his views on current Indian, West Indian sides and revealed "the ultimate cricketer" from the Caribbean. (Kohli is the best: GRV)
Here are the excerpts
Question: India is playing against the West Indies in a 4-match series and they won the first Test. West Indies Test cricket is on the decline the way they capitulated. What could be the reason?
GR Viswanath: It is not now (the decline). It has been for a long time. But not only West Indies cricket but other countries as well we felt there is a cycle, couple of players retiring at the same time and others being dropped. Somehow we felt the orginality of the team will come back. That is how it was. But with West Indies team the return to normalcy is taking too long. It is not coming back.
The wheels (of change) are just turning and turning. It is very surprising. But with the nature of cricket with ODIs and T20s, somehow they are managing (to compete in Tests). In Test cricket they have to find a way to stabilise. I don't know how they will do. For me, being here far away, I don't know what is happening with their first-class cricket. I don't know how is the Test atmosphere there and how they will return to be the best. It has taken a pretty long time to stabilise West Indies cricket. It is very unfortunate.
Q: Having contested against some of the best West Indies players, does it hurt to see them play like this now in the five-day format?
Viswanath: Absolutely (it hurts). We have seen some magnificent cricketers (from West Indies). Even before I started playing international cricket I used to admire them. When I started playing against them there were great cricketers like Rohan Kanhai, Garry Sobers, Alvin Kallicharran, Vivian Richards, Clive Lloyd. They were greatest cricketers. Sobers was the ultimate cricketer. Later on arrived Brian Lara. He was a tremendous player and everyone knows that. After that not many cricketers come to that level.
However, I don't expect cricketers to reach that level but at least stabilise the team. Not many cricketers stood there to lay the foundation for Test cricket. That is the sad part. Not only batsmen, the bowlers are also (not up to the standard). I can't comment on what is happening there but I feel sad (with the current Test team).
Q: Do you think it will be a 4-0 victory for India?
Viswanath: Obviously. If you look at it as of now, yes. But in cricket you never know (what will happen). It is too early to talk about a whitewash. Certainly Indian team is a very balanced side after picking 5 bowlers in the first Test.
Looking at this, naturally they want to win matches. It is a positive thinking. The captain (Virat Kohli) is fond of having 5 batsmen and they have to deliver the goods. That is also a positive thinking. Those 5 batsmen have to score runs. At the moment, everything looks positive for Indian cricket.