Sobers blasts Gayle’s side as ‘mercenaries’

Sir Garfield Sobers has branded the current West Indies side mercenaries with a shallow commitment to the Caribbean cause.

The cricket legend, who rarely speaks publicly about West Indies cricket, vented his anger on a Cricinfo forum that featured fellow Caribbean stars Richie Richardson, Sir Viv Richards and Wes Hall.

“I wonder why they play the game now. What’s their motive?” said Sobers, regarded as one of the game’s greatest all-rounders.

“We never thought about money when I played – and we never made any – but now it seems that’s all it’s about.

‘Look, I’m delighted that players are making money from cricket. But what is their priority? It should be the honour of representing West Indies. But I ask you, is it?

“It’s difficult for us to talk about it. Whatever we say, we’ll be told we’re bitter or jealous because they’re making more money than we did.

“Some of these people retiring from Test cricket wouldn’t be doing it if it wasn’t for the IPL. I don’t blame them; they have to look after themselves and their families.

“But the money in the game now from Twenty20 is in danger of damaging Test cricket.”

Sobers said he was surprised modern players were injured so much.

“We played without helmets, on uncovered wickets, and we played all the time.

“I was never injured. I know some modern players dismiss what we did as they say the game has changed. But it hasn’t.”

The panel had split views on Chris Gayle as captain. Richardson said he likes having Gayle at the helm.

“I get the impression the players respect him and want him to be captain, and that is the key,” Richardson said. “He’s very laid-back, but I think he is the best man for the job.”

But Sobers disagreed. “I read in the papers that he didn’t want to be captain. And he said he didn’t care much for Test cricket. Are those the qualities of a leader?”

Sobers defended the contribution to West Indies cricket of disgraced billionaire Allen Stanford, who is facing tax fraud charges in the US.

“I don’t know what his legacy as a man will be, but his legacy for West Indies cricket is very positive,” Sobers said.

“He was the first man to put the money into West Indies cricket that it needs. The Stanford Super Series was a good event and it captured the imagination of the people.

“I know that some are pretending they never trusted him, but I couldn’t do that.

“I did and I still do. I’ve seen pictures of him in chains, which they don’t seem to do to other people accused of crimes. I hope that he is cleared.”