ByAratrick Mondal, Kolkata

A few months back a certain video had gone viral where a former West Indies fast bowler was heard urging India legend Sachin Tendulkar for some help with cricket equipment for budding cricketers at his academy. Cricket West Indies has long been going through a financial turmoil which was exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic with the board having to borrow money to play its players and officials. And while the board management continues to get back on its feet and gain financial stability, cricket at the grassroot level continues to suffer. Hence, Winston Benjamin had reached out to Sachin for some help for players at his academy back in August, but instead was taken aback by the support he received from sports brand PUMA. Speaking to Hindustan Times in an exclusive interview, the veteran pacer talked about the help he received from the sports company and also gave his opinion on the present West Indies side and their chances at the impending T20 World Cup.

“I spoke briefly with a representative of Sachin’s company but I haven’t heard anything back from there yet. Our last conversation was about putting things together but I haven’t heard from him yet at this point. I am happy and was a little bit surprised at how quickly PUMA came on board to present us with some well-needed equipment and we are very appreciative of their effort that PUMA has put in. They sent everything for us. They paid for everything and we are very very happy,” he said.

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Former West Indies fast bowler Winston Benjamin

“The association has since been good with PUMA. I was supposed to do a video with them but had fallen ill. But the kids are elated at being given those necessary equipment because we have been struggling to get facilities which are very little to none. Hence for a company like PUMA to come on board for a little-known cricket academy is very good. They have been very instrumental to make sure that the youngsters are fully equipped. We surely couldn’t have done it at the magnitude we are now. Even though we still need more equipment, their help has been significant for us.”

Benjamin, who represented West Indies in 21 Tests and 85 ODIs between 1987 and 1995, was very critical of the present Windies team, opining that the side is likely to struggle for long.

“I don’t think we have the quality. We need to play like a team that would compete but we don’t have the quality to be picking the T20 or the ODI team. We are going to be struggling for a long time,” he said.

When asked about the team’s chances at the T20 World Cup which will begin later this month, he said, “T20 can go anyway. I am talking about proper cricket which is ODI or Test. T20 is a hit and miss. Anybody can win a T20 tournament. Look at the West Indies team, they are more comfortable playing T20 because they are equipped to build an innings and put it together. They just go and play shots, if they get out, they get out, if they get away with it then kudos to them.”

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