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Gibson: Top five ranking ‘unrealistic’

By by Kern De Freitas

West Indies coach Ottis Gibson thinks it is “unrealistic” to expect West Indies to enter the top five in the ICC cricket rankings in Tests and One Day Internationals soon.

Asked about the improving Windies team and their expectations, a candid Gibson knocked the ICC’s Future Tours Programme, which dictates each team’s opponents annually.

“The top five is pie in the sky at the moment for us. You can only play the teams that you have to play that it says on the ICC Future Tours Programme,” said Gibson following a training session by his team yesterday morning at the Queen’s Park Oval, 24 hours before today’s Celkon Mobile Cup Tri-Nation Series match against Sri Lanka at the Port of Spain venue.

“But if the Future Tours Programme is geared heavily towards the top teams playing each other all the time, England are playing Australia in ten Tests in the next six to eight months, and we’ve got three or four, and we talk about getting into the top (five). It’s very unrealistic.”

Gibson pointed out that the Windies have largely either played, or are scheduled to play teams close to or lower than they are in the current ICC rankings, such as New Zealand, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. The highest ranked team they will play in the coming months is Pakistan, and that tour is devoid of Tests after the schedule was adjusted to accommodate the ongoing tri-series.

“We are where we are, we play who we’ve got to play, and if we continue to beat them, maybe we’ll get into the top six, and that will be an achievement in itself,” he stated, while still hoping his team can build on their World T20 triumph last year in Sri Lanka.

The former West Indies all-rounder, who mixed it up with a few players yesterday—including form batsman Johnson Charles—in a lively, but low-key training session, also responded to questions about the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), saying that he sees benefits from the tournament, even though he thinks it will not help the team in the 50-over format.

“We hope that the CPL will produce more superstars (like Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels and Sunil Narine), people that get used to fierce competition. The one thing, watching the IPL is fierce competition…Hopefully it will produce more guys to handle the pressure.”

Most of all, by working with the players, Gibson is hoping to pass down the knowledge he says he learned from former West Indies great players.

“(What I’m doing now is) passing on what I’ve learnt over the years from great players like Malcolm Marshall… I was bowling in the nets with Jason Holder, and talking to him about the lengths you bowl on certain pitches and doing what the pitch allows you to do. Using the facilities and the conditions to your advantage rather than fighting them, stuff like that, and having fun.”

Gibson added: “But it’s good fun for me, I’m passionate about what I do, whether it is talking to a player, bowling to a player, whether it is throwing balls to a player, that’s why I coach. To get out and enjoy it and ensure the people I’m working with enjoy themselves. If you’re working and you’re not enjoying yourself, then it’s a chore.” 

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