Exclusive Interview : Jeff Dujon
Pakpassion.Net -From all the legendary fast bowlers you kept to, whom do you rate as being 1) the greatest and why?
2) the most difficult to wicketkeep to and why?
Jeff Dujon 1. Without a doubt, the greatest fast bowler I kept to would be the late Malcolm Marshall. He was the embodiment of all that had gone before him. He was an incredibly good assessor of batsmens’ weaknesses, and possessed the ability to swing the ball (old or new) both ways at extreme pace and with excellent control. Add to this the ability assess different surfaces and adapt to them quickly and you have the consummate practitioner. His record at home and away is testimony to the above.
2. I found Colin Croft the most difficult bowler to keep to. Even though he had the ability to deliver some incredible leg cutters from wide of the stumps, he tended to be inconsistent in line. Hence, anything delivered from his natural angle that pitched around leg stump went down leg side at such an angle as to make it often impossible for the keeper to get hold of.
Pakpassion.Net -Who do you rate as the best glovemen in world cricket right now?
Jeff Dujon I think it would be unfair to single out any one individual as being the best keeper at this time, as the focus has been on the keeper being an allrounder. What we find now is that even though there are a number of competent keepers around in world cricket (Boucher, Dhoni, Sangakarra, et al) they are all subject to periodic inconsistency, and this does not create a clear distinction between them in my mind. That having been said, they have all been significant performers for their teams.
Pakpassion.Net -West indies have always prided themselves on producing terifying fast bowlers and some fantastic batsmen but currently both areas seem to have dried up. Are there any young hopefulls coming through the ranks?
Jeff Dujon It is true that the West Indies is not producing the calibre of player that we produced in the past. This is not for lack of natural talent. There are quite a few young batsmen with the potential to be world class, but this potential is not being realized due to lack of programmes designed to develop those aspects which take a young player beyond just being naturally talented, and give him the mental skills to cope with the international game. As a result, the best of what exists comes to international level lacking these refinements. Reaction tends to be instinctive, not planned, and behaviour under pressure predictable.
Pakpassion.Net -What was your favourite test ground to play on?
Jeff Dujon My favourite test ground was the Oval. Wonderful atmosphere.
Pakpassion.Net -What was your most memorable cricket match you played in?
Jeff Dujon The most memorable cricket match I played in was the 1st. Test in Perth in 1984/85. We batted first and lost the first five wickets cheaply. I was struck in the head (no helmet) before scoring and went on to make 138. That was also Courtney Walsh’s first test.
Pakpassion.Net -What bowler did you least like facing when playing?
Jeff Dujon Without question, Wasim Akram was the bowler I least like facing. I found it difficult to get into a rhythm with him, and his ability to swing the ball away and in to right-handers made him a handful. He also had good pace and an excellent bouncer.
Pakpassion.Net -Since you were one of the most natural and uninhibited keepers of all time, what kind of advice would you give to Kamran Akmal, who doesn't seem to be the keeper he was in the first year of his career?
Jeff Dujon Kamran Akmal is a talented cricketer. Wicket-keeping and batting at a high standard is not easy to maintain. Because it is such a pivotal position in many ways, criticism is never far away. It is up to the player to accept this as a given and not allow it to take away from his focus. He should focus on the things over which he has control, namely his performance, and believe in his ability. I think my main attribute throughout my career was an overriding belief in myself and my ability to influence the outcome of any situation into which I was thrust. Once you are on the field, no one can help you. Your strength must come from within.
Pakpassion.Net -I would rate you as one of the most graceful and stylish right-handed batsman of all time, yet since your retirement from cricket, the West Indies havent looked remotely likely to produce such a batsman (let alone a wicket-keeping) batsman again. Why is this the case - and does it trouble you?
Jeff Dujon I was blessed with above average batting ability and sufficient natural agility to form a base on which my wicket-keeping could be built. Had I not been so blessed, I’m not sure that having to work equally hard at both would have produced the same result. My batting was less of a worry, so I spent most time trying to take my keeping to the next level. I don’t think that young players with potential understand the kind of physical and mental work involved, and if they do, they don’t seem prepared to do it. This troubles me greatly. Ridley Jacobs did a lot with less ability than some of the young players I’ve seen. For some strange reason, (and I hesitate to attribute this to basketball, as it is not a career opportunity for Caribbean youngsters) we no longer produce big, tall men who bowl fast. Of late, those who bowl fast are quite small in stature, and slight of build. As a result of the misguided notion that pace is the “West Indian Way” a lot of these youngsters are encouraged to bowl faster than their bodies will allow for sustained periods,and not focus more on control, which can be just as effective. I do not forsee any young hopefuls coming through until it is realized that our old strengths no longer exist and that it is time to build on what we do have.
Pakpassion.Net -Jeff, what was Clive Lloyds great strength as skipper?
Jeff Dujon Clive Lloyds strength as a skipper was his ability to manage the diverse personalities and egos of his team, and channel them into an effective and patriotic fighting unit.
Pakpassion.Net -Mr Dujon, in your opinion where has it all gone wrong for West Indian Cricket in the last 10 years or so and what do you think is the solution?
Jeff Dujon The reason for the decline of West Indies cricket over the last 10 years lies with the West Indies Cricket Board. In the dominant years no development work was done, and when the heart of the team was ripped out, they believed that we would just go on being dominant – like a man with a pocketful of money and no job, who spends everyday in the belief that it will never run out. No development work of consequence has taken place in the last ten years and hence, the WI are far behind the rest of the world in their ability to produce quality players. The excuse has been lack of funds, but when one looks at the amount of money which has been spent on marketing and overstaffing an incompetent WICB, one wonders where the priorities lie. Your nation’s cricket improves when you invest in your youth and coaches.
Pakpassion.Net -In your opinion did Lara retire at the right time or should he have continued a little longer?
Jeff Dujon Brian Lara had a fantastic career. My only disappointment is that I never saw players improving during the period when he was in a position to influence their development, either as captain or as a senior player. I think that his retirement should have come earlier in order for a new culture to be developed in the team, and for the players to accept more responsibility. Brian had a great career, but he could have been so much more to WI cricket.
Pakpassion.Net -If there was one cricketer you could be other than yourself, who would it be and why?
Jeff Dujon There is no other player I would be – no other person for that matter.
Pakpassion.Net -Jeff, It seems the West Indies lack the patriotism which motivates many players of other nations. Do you thinking forming a formal federation would help the West Indian team have a common goal and vision?
Jeff Dujon The opinion that the current WI players lack patriotism is quite disturbing to me. This was never the case when I played. If you look at it, the only difference between then and now is the amount of money players are being paid. They have been placed in a comfort zone and don’t see the need to work as hard. As the standard of play has dropped, so have the value systems of the players. Federation is not the answer – education is.
Pakpassion.Net -Every team needs a beacon. Who was the most influential figure of the West Indian dominating team?
Jeff Dujon The most influential figure of the dominating WI team was Vivian Richards. A very proud man and a fierce competitor, he epitomized West Indian pride and inspired his teammates through his performance.
Pakpassion.Net -How much does Basket Ball and the money involved in it weaken the West Indian cricket and what should be done to improve the situation?
Jeff Dujon I cannot see basketball being a significant influence on WI cricket. College opportunities are available through basketball, but not a significant number. NBA opportunities are even fewer. There are many more distractions for youngsters these days, so the game has to be made more attractive to them. You would be surprised how many of the current players know nothing about the rich history of WI cricket.
Pakpassion.Net -I'd always back the West Indies team of the early 80s (up until Clive Lloyd retired) to crush the Australian team of the early 2000s (up until Steve Waugh retired). Would you share my confidence?
Jeff Dujon I would back any team I played in against anybody.
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Last edited by Saj; 4th September 2007 at 17:44.