is not much that one can write about Deryck Lance Murray
that does not include cricket. He first played for the
West Indies against England in 1963 when he was just shy
of his 20th birthday, thanks to another mastermind of
West Indies cricket, Sir Frank Worrell, who saw a future
for the then Cambridge University student.
The rookie wicket-keeper managed 24 dismissals in that series,
then a record, as the West Indies won the five-Test series
3-1. Murray played 62 Tests, scoring nearly 2,000 runs,
averaging 23, even becoming the teams vice-captain.
More importantly, he had almost 200 efficient dismissals
behind the stumps.
Murray grew up on Tragarete Road, which runs adjacent to
the Queens Park Oval, and with both his father and uncle
on the then T&T Cricket Board, he probably had no choice
but to be involved in the cricket game from the very day
he was born!
My first meeting with DM was when he played
for Warwickshire, in the 1972 English county season. Also
in Warwickshires squad were Rohan Kanhai, Lance Gibbs
and Alvin Kallicharran of the West Indies; David Brown,
Dennis Amiss, John Jameson, Bob Willis and captain MJK Smith,
all England Test players and Khalid Billy Ibadulla,
the Pakistani international player. It was no wonder that
Warwickshire won everything that decade, let alone the year
As a 19-year-old, I had been sent to Warwickshire on a coaching
scholarship, courtesy of Gibbes, one of the West Indies
Murray has been, like team captain Clive Lloyd, one of the
real father-figures that we, as new West Indies
players, had in 1976/7. By then, my friend had even managed
to bring a great personal gift for me; the best pair of
cricket bowling boots that I have ever had; from Australia,
after the 1975/6 West Indies tour there. I played my entire
Test career, seven or so years, with that pair of boots
as the primary, so good were the bowling boots!
Murray is now the President of the T&T Cricket Board
and a West Indies Cricket Board Director. He was also the
person who first made the moniker, West Indies Players
Association, fashionable, since he was the first ever
convener of the players body. There is much that West
Indies cricket owes to Murray Lance Murray.
With all the changes going on in West Indies cricket, I
met with Murray to discuss West Indies cricket.
Croft (CC): We have just had the new WICB President, Dr.
Julian Hunte taking up office. What is your first take on
the new President?
Murray (DM): This is a very crucial time for West Indies
cricket. Every time that there is a game that we play, win
or lose, these days; every time there is a change in the
administration, whether it is the CEO or President, whatever;
we look for a new dawn. Almost always also, we would say
that, at that specific time, that West Indies cricket is
at its lowest ebb. Yet it continues to go further down.
So there are great expectations from Julian Hunte. He has
been on the WICB previously, so he knows the workings of
the WICB. Julian Hunte comes at a time when we need to take
some very harsh decisions. Only time will tell whether he
is the person and whether he will lead us in a direction
not only to take those hard and harsh decisions, but to
also follow the path that those decisions take.
All of this is very interesting because it also comes at
a time when we are all eagerly awaiting the final report
for the PJ Patterson-led Governance Committee. As for me,
I am placing great emphasis on what that report will recommend
because I think that it is so very important for the future
of West Indies cricket that we see a great change, real
radical change. Business as usual, is not going to solve
our problems. So Julian Hunte is at a time when there is
a great challenge facing us.
CC: You are unique in West Indies cricket. You are presently
fully involved in the administration and governance of several
facets of West Indies cricket. You have won the ICC Cricket
World Cup twice; 1975 and 1979; and have been a West Indies
player since 1963. So, you will have seen, and been a part
of, the advent of the team that was called World Champions
in the 1970s and 1980s. Unfortunately, you will
also have seen the dismal cricket over the last several
years, and the decline of the same World Champions
to where we are presently. This new Governance Committee
will only make recommendations; not laws. There is nothing
concrete about it in the very first place.
DM: No, and this is the thing with a committee. I am on
the WICB Cricket Committee. It also seems a bit strange
to me that as a Cricket Board, the Cricket Committee has
to make recommendations which the entire WICB may or may
The Governance Committee report is simply that; a report.
It is a report that will make recommendations. At the very
end of the day, it is up to the Directors of the WICB to
adopt those recommendations and then to put them into practice;
give them life; give them reality. I think that we are at
the stage where we have to do that.
We have had an interim report so we know basically what
they are thinking scrap this WICB and let us
start a new structureI believe that is the way
to go. It will be very difficult for Directors to vote or
say that I am going to scrap myself. But, as
far as I am concerned, it is for the good of West Indies
cricket and I am not sure that we have another choice.
CC: Cricket Australia had the same experiment; allowing
a Governance Committee to recommend the future of the running
of the game there. One of the suggested recommendations
was to scrap the Australian Cricket Board as it existed
then. In the end, the ACB scrapped the Governance Committee
that it had commissioned.
You are saying that the same situation exists here in the
Caribbean, at least initially. You Directors are going to
be deciding on your own future. That does not make much
sense. Maybe to politicians it does, but to the normal person,
it makes no sense at all.
DM: I do not know if it makes sense or not, but this is
the reality. We have constitutions to follow etc. It is
a brave decision. As you say, I have seen West Indies cricket
from many, maybe every direction, inside and out, from different
I have never stopped thinking of West Indies cricket of
being of paramount interest. Whether Mr. X or Mr. Y is President
or a Director is irrelevant, in so far as what we need to
do. We need to have the right structure. Then, we have to
hope that the structure allows us to appoint the best people,
on merit, to the respective positions, to serve the WICB
and the Caribbean people. We are moving in that direction.
Once upon a time, it was imperative that we had one or two
representatives or Directors from each of the main territories;
Guyana, T&T; Jamaica; Barbados; the Windward Islands;
the Leeward Islands. But we also need to remember that,
once upon a time, there were only four territories in all;
Guyana; T&T; Jamaica and Barbados; that made up the
West Indies. Now, we have six, but there are also arguments
for even broadening that to individual countries.
In the context of other institutions; the Caribbean Single
Market Economy (CSME); the University of the West Indies
(UWI) etc, we do not man UWI Professorships by one person
from each territory.
We look far and wide for, hopefully Caribbean people, who
are qualified in their respective fields and the best qualified
for the positions. I certainly believe that West Indies
cricket deserves no less than that and maybe better than
If, perchance, all five, or seven, or nine, directors happen
to have come from the same country, then so be it, if they
are the best people for West Indies cricket! Similarly,
if you had a team that, once upon a time, had nine Barbadians
in the team, but that team was an excellent team and the
best that we could put out, then so be it too.
CC: The new WICB President has just appointed four new DirectorsProfessor
Hilary Beckles of the UWI (Cave Hill); Ken Hewitt, the long-standing
WICB Accountant; Dininath Ramnarine, CEO of WIPA; and our
former captain, Clive Lloyd. Some people are lauding some
of the appointments, but some are also suggesting that maybe
the appointment of especially Dininath Ramnarine as a check-mate,
bringing in the wolf to be among the sheep. The people on
the street would have that perspective, even though those
of us who are more intimately involved in the sport would
know better, that they all have West Indies cricket at heart.
What are your thoughts on the appointments?
DM: Again, we have to distinguish the personalities. I remember
when the West Indies Players Association was first formed,
in 1973, and the first letter that we wrote to the WICB
was to ask that we be recognized as the representative of
the players, while the second letter, about a year later,
was to ask that we have a representative on the WICB. So,
it may have taken 33 years, but I think that it was a wise
move to have a representative of the players on the WICB,
to be involved in the deliberations.
Ramnarine has a different type of personality than other
Players representatives in the past. He will have to adapt
to working with the WICB but I also think that it allows
for a lot greater collaboration in terms of WICB/West Indies
player interface. We need to do much more of that too.
The other persons who had been appointed were appointed
for their own expertise and there are so many others who
could have been appointed. Again, it is just a question
that the constitution limits us to those additional four.
I am sure that they will make very useful contributions
as things go along.
CC: You have contributed so much already to West Indies
cricket. With all of the new governance and everything else
about present-day West Indies cricket coming into being,
I expect that you would want to see the players themselves,
on the field of play, take greater responsibilities for
the situation too. Would that be a fair suggestion?
DM: Yes, that is fair. They do, but I think that there is
a responsibility first, from the games administration
in the West Indies, to provide the right infrastructure
for the players to be developed properly. I think that for
umpteen years, particularly when we were winning, it was
taken for granted that West Indies cricket would continue
the Crofts, Holdings, Roberts and Richards etc.,
and that these players would just keep coming out of the
Yet, even in those days, I remember that we were starting
to suggest that we needed an academy; we needed to have
proper structures and development programs. Yet nothing
had been done.
Now we are seeing the decline, as a result of the neglect
over those years. So now, we, as the administrators, have
got to put into place, that kind of developmental infrastructure
that will help the obviously talented and potentially great
players that we now have to be developed to what is really
required to international standards. All too often, very
talented players, going into the international arenas, are
being exposed for their lack of basic fundamental techniques,
mental preparation etc. That is almost like throwing the
lambs to the wolves.
I think that we as administrators have a great job to do,
to accomplish. From a T&T perspective, we are trying
to do that from the primary and secondary school levels,
but we also need to see that happening at the same levels
all around the Caribbean.
CC: When I started playing for the West Indies in 1976/7,
I remember two things that happened to us. Immediately,
I and Joel Garner were instructed to become member of the
WIPA, a suggestion we had no difficulty in accepting, since
it came from our two sages, you and Clive Lloyd. Secondly,
I remember you both also suggesting that look, this
team is not being so successful around the cricket world
because of the WICB, but despite the WICB. It has
taken us more than 30 years to get from that point to where
we are now. Somehow, though, you seem very confident indeed
now. Will that change?
DM: I am optimistic and to be honest, Crofty, that is why
I am still so very involved. I believe that all that has
been suggested is possible. I think that there were different
social conditions in the 1960s and 1970s, as
we built that world-beating team, which motivated players
who had been given an opportunity to play for the West Indies;
these being beyond financial or beyond even just playing
a game of cricket.
I think that we all understood where our place was in the
run of things both regionally and internationally; and the
development of our countries after independence from Britain.
It was a great challenge to us, understanding where we were
in the hierarchy, and what talent was, as opposed to the
professional circuit that there was in places like the United
Kingdom or the love of winning that the Australians always
brought to competitions. We knew that we had to compete
at that level if we were going to hold our heads high. I
think that we were driven by the fact of wanting to be the
best in the world.
I think that the present West Indies players can achieve
that too, despite the WICB, or without the WICBs help,
but it would be, and it is, a little more difficult these
days. The values that you are given at school now are not
the same values that we were inculcated with, not only at
school, but at home, at church, combined to give us that
determination to be the best. I think that society today
is a bit too materialistic, too liberal; I use the word
in its worse sense, rather than its best sense. So, it is
up to the respective Cricket Boards to put that value system
in place, to allow the players to have that self esteem,
to know that being West Indian, in the cricket scenario,
means that you can be the best in the world.
CC: So you are saying that the WICB must provide that platform
for development and for making the players and their abilities
good enough to beat the rest of the cricket world. I cannot
believe that any player who now plays for the West Indies
does not want to win. It simply is that they are not sufficiently
prepared for the task at hand.
DM: I think that you are quite right. The environment has
changed. Our teams did not need the WICB 30 or 40 years
ago, as coaching at that time was purely voluntary. We had
some of the most dedicated coaches around, giving their
help and services for free.
When you speak about T&T, for instance, I know that
people like Noel Guillen, Rex Dewhurst, Pa Aleong, Willie
Guadeloupe; these are people who were legendary as cricket
coaches in the country, for just being around the cricket
and coaching players.
You would hear players like Charlie Davis, Gus Logie, Larry
Gomes, all West Indies players, single out these coaches
as being people who would have helped them in their efforts
to be the best cricketers that they could have been. I am
sure that you would have had a similar situation in Guyana
and that the rest of the Caribbean countries would have
had a similar situation.
Now, people do not do that sort of thing. Ordinary people
do not do that sort of thing, giving up their time after
school, in the afternoons, to come in and supervise the
youth at cricket. Everyone wants to be paid for that service
these days to do those jobs and that is fair enough. However,
it means that if they are to be paid, then the WICB must
be in a position to provide the wherewithal to provide those
coaches so that the players can be developed properly.
CC: The next, most important subject is finance/sponsorship.
The ICC CWC 2007 has been completed. From what we have been
hearing, there will be some profit, probably in the tens
of millions as opposed to what we had hoped for, the hundreds
of millions. There is some money coming in from the Stanford
tournament and situation, but you must be somewhat concerned
as to where the funding will come from for all of this advertising
of West Indies cricket. It must be sponsored and be made
DM: That is correct. It is a chicken and an egg situation.
If the West Indies team was being successful, then sponsorship
would be far more available. Yes, it is a problem. The World
Cup promised hundreds of millions of dollars of profit.
I am hopeful that when the final report comes out next month,
September, that we would have, at the very least, cleared
off our debt, which stood at about US$15 million at last
count. I do not know that we would end up having a profit
that was over and above clearing off that debt.
So it is back to square one! So, yes, we need sponsorship,
but we also need corporate sponsors that would have the
same optimism that I have; that West Indies cricket can
rise again, and to be prepared to put money in as an investment,
into the development of West Indies cricket. These companies
will not get the exposure that they may want for the next
two or three years, simply because West Indies cricket will
not be at the top of the heap in two or three years.
So, we are almost saying to sponsors; come in and
share our vision that our cricket situation would improve;
that it would cost your company US X millions to fund the
development over the next three-four years; that you may
be lucky to start seeing some improvement in that time,
whereby you may want to continue to sponsor the team.
It really is simply on trust and goodwill, now, that we
are asking sponsors to come in and help West Indies cricket.
CC: The competitions that are to be sponsored that will
develop our players must also be at a certain level, perhaps
like the Pura Cup in Australia, or even the County Championships
in England, which helped many of us become better. The hardest
cricket that I may have played is playing for Guyana in
the Shell Shield in the 1970s and 1980s. We
also have to look at the development and standards of our
competitions. They must be channeled to producing the very
best West Indies team possible.
DM: Yes, I agree that the competitions need to be strengthened.
However, the competitions are only going to be as strong
as the players that you have available to play in the competitions.
Because we are not doing the preparatory work with the players;
look at our Carib Beer first class levels; and there are
quite obvious faulty techniques. One would see batsmen selling
their wickets cheaply. One would see bowlers just going
through the motions, but still getting wickets because of
the batsmans lack of longevity at the crease; after
he hits a few 4s and maybe 6s, he would have
had enough and that is that. Our fielding is not always
up to the required standards. We have a problem.
I also think that we have a problem at the lower levels,
too, rather than the national and international teams, as
we can only provide the national teams with the kind of
players that have been produced through the ranks; with
the techniques and foundations that would have been put
in at the schools level. We really need to go back to the
I say that that is a seven year process. We need to work
on long term plans. If you assume that our present 14 and
15 year olds are the future international West Indies players,
when they would be 22-25, then we need to start working
on them now; working on the techniques.
Here is a simple example. Look at our best batsmen playing
fast bowlers these days. We were well known, renowned around
the world, for being the best back-foot players
and that is why we combated the worlds best fast bowlers.
Nowadays, every player sticks his front foot
down the pitch, while trying to perform the hook
shot! Conversely, Crofty, as a former fast bowler, you must
look at these present day players and perhaps think; I
would love to bowl at this lot now, but who has taught
them the technique that they use today?
(Continued next week)