West Indian batting great Desmond Haynes wants children to be allowed into test match grounds for free to increase popularity of the longest form of the game.
The former opener, who scored 7,487 runs in 116 test matches between 1978 and 1994, feels introducing youngsters to T20 cricket is not allowing them to understand the intricacies of the sport.
Haynes, 62, who scored 35 international centuries in his 16-year career, also thinks test cricketers should be given the same amount of money T20 cricketers get by playing leagues around the world to keep it as the holy grail.
He said: “Make sure that you let all the school kids around the world watch test cricket for free. You should not be charging them. I feel that in itself would bring people to see what cricket is all about.
“We have to see how it is best to encourage the youngsters to come and watch test cricket. When you look at places like West Indies and New Zealand, it would make it very appealing in order to bring a new audience to understand test cricket.”
As well as the disappointing crowds in the West Indies, Haynes – pictured above – is disappointed at the state of West Indian cricket in all forms of the game.
In test cricket, only Bangladesh and Zimbabwe are ranked lower than the West Indies. Haynes played alongside other icons such as Sir Vivian Richards and Sir Curtly Ambrose in a side which dominated in the 1980s.
He explained: “We as past players are not happy with what is going on. When you play for West Indies at a time when they had some of the best cricketers in the world, it is really sad to see what is happening now.”
Haynes put his name forward for the role of West Indies coach this month, as he believes he can make a big difference to the side.
As much as Haynes is sad about how West Indies are playing, he is not ready to play the blame game.
“I have always taken a stance that it is not right to be talking negatively about the players since they look up to you as someone for guidance. It’s not good for you to go out and start criticising the players.”
He added: “I always felt that it was good to have people in the dressing room or around you that can help you in order to assess how to go about handling certain situations. This is what some of our young players are missing.”
Being a crucial cog in the West Indian juggernaut during their glory days was one of Haynes’ biggest achievements. But it was probably his partnerships with Gordon Greenidge for which he is best remembered.
He recognises while he and Greenidge were one of the best opening pairs in history, the style of batting shown by modern openers is different.
He said: “We would try to get as close to off stump as possible as an opening batsman. I see in the young openers today that the right foot doesn’t cover their off stump enough but that is their style. I find it strange when the ball is moving and your bat pickup is so high.”
Haynes also wants the West Indies set-up to focus on how young openers are being developed, because they are pivotal to the success of the team.
He explained: “We need to have a serious look at how we are nurturing our young opening batsmen. If you are cricket fanatic, you will understand that a good team is a team with good openers.”
Desmond Haynes was speaking at the World Travel Market, where he was representing the Cricket Legends of Barbados as chairman.