No point in punishing Gibbs for his critique of Cornwall

By April 27, 2020
Lance Gibbs Lance Gibbs

Right across the globe, retired athletes are often asked their opinions on the current state of their respective sports. Sometimes their responses are good, something not so much. After all, what they offer are opinions and as the saying goes, “everybody has one”.

Many times those comments are positive in nature and go down well with the public. However, there are times when the opinions are critical of the current stars and those tend to attract a certain level of vitriol.

Just recently, Lance Gibbs, the first spin bowler in history to take 300 Test wickets and was the second bowler in history to break that threshold behind Fred Truman, was asked to offer his opinion on the quality of the spin bowlers who currently ply their trade in regional cricket.

Speaking on Mason on Guest in Barbados, he said he was not particularly impressed with the current crop. He was also critical of Rahkeem Cornwall, whom many would argue is the best spinner in the region and has been for a couple of years now.

Cornwall’s 300 wickets from just 62 matches and 13 Test wickets from just two Tests, I would assume, suggest that he possesses some talent that could one day help take the West Indies back near the top of world cricket once this pandemic subsides.

Gibbs was particularly critical of Cornwall’s run-up that is two steps. He argues that taking only two steps before he delivers prevents Cornwall from finding a rhythm, which Gibbs believes could make him a better bowler.

However, as many fans are wont to do, they lashed out against Gibbs, instead of analysing what he said and putting it into proper context.

Here is the thing; there have been many instances in the past two decades or so when we have seen spinners thrive regionally only to be embarrassingly exposed when promoted to the Test side against world-class opposition.

Devendra Bishoo, Nikita Miller, and Veerasammy Permaul are just a few names who have excelled regionally but then were literally beaten into submission by Australia, England, India and so on. And it's not just the spinners. Devon Smith plunders regional bowlers every season only to be found wanting when asked to open for the West Indies.

The way I look at it, Gibbs might be well off base with his critique. Who knows, Cornwall could go on to eclipse Gibbs’ haul of 309 Test tickets and become known as the greatest off-spinner ever to emerge from the Caribbean.

However, where is the harm in hearing what Gibbs has to say and maybe taking something positive away from his critique?

Among the comments I read on SportsMax’s Facebook page from those reactions to Gibbs’ comments is that somehow he is envious of Cornwall and by extension the modern players. I have been trying my best to put myself in the shoes of the 85-year-old legend, but I struggle to think of a reason he would be envious.

If I have 300-plus Test wickets and another man has 13, it would be a long time before I have anything to be worried about, anything.

Clearly, my success would indicate that I have some level of experience and possess a modicum of understanding why I enjoyed success throughout my career.

What we fans of sport need to accept is that even though we love the contemporary players, no one is above improving and not all opinions, no matter how unflattering they might be, mean someone has an axe to grind.

The only way anyone can get better at their craft is to take on board constructive criticism that can help improve weak areas and make strong areas stronger.

Sometimes as fans, we let emotion get the better of us. Gibbs was asked his opinion, he did not volunteer it and I do not see where he said anything wrong. Maybe if Cornwall developed a better rhythm he could get even more bounce, turn, and snare many more wickets for the West Indies in the future.

We will never know unless he tries it.

So let's not punish the messenger here.

Gibbs, like all of us, wants to see the West Indies do well once more. Sometimes bitter medicine is hard to swallow but often, it does us a world of good.













Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

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