MUMBAI Batting great Viv Richards has slammed "arrogant" Caribbean administrators for thinking they are as important as players and has laid the blame for the decline of West Indies cricket firmly at their door.
West Indies were world beaters in the 1970s and 1980s when Richards was in his pomp but are no longer among the top sides in the test and 50-over formats.
They have failed to qualify for June's Champions Trophy, where the top eight one-day international sides will compete, and also risk missing out on an automatic berth for the 2019 World Cup.
From Friday, West Indies host Pakistan in a three-ODI series that could prove crucial to their hopes of an automatic World Cup berth but most of their best players will be taking part in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
"When you have an arrogant administrative unit, guys are going to pick and choose," Richards told ESPNcricinfo in an interview.
"We must remember that many of the players come from humble backgrounds.
"I have no qualms in saying this, some of these administrators think they are as important as the players on the field. They are not."
The top seven teams and hosts England have direct berths at the 2019 World Cup with the cut-off date being the end of September. West Indies are currently ranked ninth and risk having to play the qualifiers.
A number of high-profile players have declined the West Indies Cricket Board's (WICB) central contract in the last few years, plying their trade in T20 tournaments across the globe.
"I think it is a bigger issue than about the guys playing in our domestic competition," Richards added.
"Most of the guys played there when they first started out, that's what they wanted to do.
"But when you get an administration who thinks that they are the most important entity where West Indies cricket is concerned, they better wake up."
The 65-year-old, the most destructive batsman of his era, hit 24 hundreds in 121 tests in the glory days of Caribbean cricket.
He thinks the current situation might not be terminal if former players can be brought back into the fold.
"I am one of those individuals that never says never," Richards said. "I believe if we start having a little bit more respect for the individuals who would have helped the administrators into that administrative position.
"You have a Michael Holding, who refuses to be part of cricket in the region because of the behaviour of members at the administrative level.
"It hurts because we are the ones that are the trailblazers, not the ones who have come on the scene at present wanting to be administrators. We are the ones who made it attractive enough for them to administer and they have done a lousy job."
(Writing by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by xx)