Desmond Haynes spoke to while preparing for the final of the Caribbean Premier League, where he had a role as a mentor for the Barbados Tridents.
If you think of Test cricket in the 1980s, your mind turns to the West Indies. While it is often the fast bowling of Holding, Marshall and Garner that gets all the plaudits, if they had not been given the runs to defend, they would not have been the force that they were.
England fans became accustomed to the West Indies being 120 for none at lunch on the first day. One of the men responsible was Desmond Haynes. He spoke to <b><i>Cricket365</i></b> while preparing for the final of the Caribbean Premier League, where he had a role as a mentor for the Barbados Tridents.
Talking of his time at the top, he said that the bowers that he found the toughest to face were an Australian tyro and a New Zealand swing bowler.
"It genuinely did depend on the situation and the pitch, but two that stand out are Jeff Thomson for his raw pace and aggression, but the bowler who was the toughest day after day and I thought could get me out at any time was Sir Richard Hadlee.
"What a bowler he was, he could move it both ways and was incredibly accurate." Haynes recalled.
In the period since those glory days the success that the men from the West Indies have achieved has come with a white ball while playing in coloured clothing. But while Haynes has been involved with the CPL T20 tournament, he still craves Test success.
He said: "Cricket fans in the Caribbean do like their T20 cricket and have really got involved with the CPL. But Test cricket is still very popular and the ultimate challenge for all cricketers.
"I do not like seeing the West Indies at seventh or eighth in the world standings but we do have some excellent players here now and this generation can have a real impact at Test level, and that will get the crowds back in for five day cricket."
In the past, all the West Indies players would come to England for a season of county cricket. Haynes played 95 first class matches for Middlesex scoring over 7000 runs at an average of 50.
He said that this was a brilliant opportunity for him to hone his skills in unfamiliar conditions. He also had some views on the length of first class matches in the Caribbean.
"I learnt a lot in England, and three-day cricket, playing teams home and away in a season was so good for my game," he continued. "I would like us to get back to playing matches that long as I don't feel four day cricket is having the positive impact on Test cricket that we thought it would."
Playing a full season of county cricket is not an option for the players of today. International schedules and the overlap of the Caribbean domestic season mean that the days of four months in the shires is a thing of the past. That said, shorter stints in foreign climates might aid in the development of players.
While the West Indies are not at the top of the tree in the longest format, Haynes still felt there was room for optimism over the future, as long as the players look to listen to the right advice to make the most of their undoubted talent.
He added: "I want to see West Indian cricketers playing the Caribbean way by taking advice from people like Walsh, Ambrose and Richards. We have a lot of very athletic players in the West Indies and I would like to see us playing more confident and aggressive cricket – like we used to!"
Haynes also said that, while spending time watching the CPL, there was plenty to indicate that the aggressive approach of the past can be the route to success in the future.
"We have seen many of the top players in the Caribbean in this tournament performing at a very high standard, and I think has improved the quality of cricket at Test match level as well.
"The fielding is the biggest area that has developed over the past decade and all players, even big fast bowlers, need to be able to field well."
As well as mentoring the Tridents, who won this year's tournament, Haynes set up a foundation to give something back to cricketers in the Caribbean. He said he was given help when he was a young man, and he wanted to be able to contribute something to Barbados and the West Indies.
He revealed: "I started my foundation earlier this year with the aim of raising enough money to provide college scholarships to young Caribbean cricketers to help them finish their education in England and, in time, Australia.
"I have been speaking to schools in the UK to get their backing and ensure that the scholarship will also develop their cricket. Education is expensive in the West Indies and I want to support some of our most promising young cricketers."
The young cricketers of the Caribbean should be grateful that a man like Haynes is happy to give them advice and an education. Let's hope that their heads are not turned by the prospect of playing for England whilst they are there and they head back to the West Indies to make them world beaters once again.
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