PORT OF SPAIN – Cricketing great Brian Lara has expressed caution about the state of West Indies cricket, even though the regional team has risen to fifth on the current ICC Test cricket rankings.
Lara said: “That is a hard judgement call to make. It’s the longer version of the game. Yes we’ve had success, maybe against some of the lesser nations in the world, but success is success and I believe this could be the impetus for us to do something better in the future.”
The multiple world batting record-holder made a call for the regional cricket bodies to pay more attention to the longer version of the game.
“We won the Twenty20 World Cup which is great. We saw the beginning of the CPL which is a great success. I’m someone who believes that the marriage could take place. All forms of the game could benefit from what they have to offer to the world. I don’t believe that we should feel less attention to any version of the game. Spectators love the Twenty20 version and that’s great.”
He continued: “Traditionally, and our heritage over the last 80 or so years, have been our success on the field of Test cricket. From the period of the ‘50s and the ‘60s when we were fighting for our independence to the ‘70s and ‘80s when we were really stamping our authority on the world, and unfortunately the period of decline. So we have to arrest all situations that we’re involved in and represent our nation in the way that we see it best.”
About the proposed two-Test series in India in November, the 44-year-old stated, “it’s always tough in India. It’s not an easy proposition going down there and winning a series, cricket matches or Test matches. Sachin (Tendulkar) is such a great player and I’m sure they’ll (BCCI) would want to give him the perfect send-off, if he’s really retiring.
“Looking at West Indies cricket and what we have, with the likes of Chris Gayle, Darren Sammy, the Bravo brothers (Dwayne and Darren) and (Sunil) Narine. I think we’ve got a formidable group of players that we can squeeze something out of a series like that.
“The commitment and the way the guys go out there to play is very important. Switching from one form of the game to the next is something that takes a lot of commitment, a lot of discipline. And we see they’re capable of it.”
Sammy is the captain of the Test and T20 teams while Dwayne Bravo is at the helm of the One-Day International squad.
“I don’t think it’s the perfect situation,” Lara said. “It’s never the perfect situation. We’ve got different forms of the game with different leaders. If that’s the option of the present time, then so be it. But it should not affect how a team performs. Ideally, you’ll like to have somebody who could handle all three forms of the game. You’re a professional, if you look at it in that way, and you’re a member of a team, you have to perform.
“I believe what is helping us at the moment is the fact that the franchise cricket has really made a statement, and a lot of the guys are professionals outside the realms of West Indies cricket. They see themselves now as professionals and they have responsibilities.”
Questioned about Sammy’s record as captain, the former WI captain replied, “I think he’s done a very good job. The Darren Sammy that I knew in the team that I led in the early 21st century is a guy who’s matured a lot, who knows his capabilities, who knows his parameters of his game, and he’s done pretty well.”
Lara is expected to participate at the T20 Clobi World Masters of Cricket Tournament in Barbados, from November 1-10, but he made it clear “that’s just off-and-on.”
He noted, “they’ve had it for a couple years. I did not take part. It’s keeping fit. I can still play, don’t worry about the glasses. It’s going to be fun. I’m not going to embarrass myself, that’s for sure, so I look forward to it. I still believe that I’m capable of doing well, especially at my age.
“I look forward to that tournament. Hopefully Trinidad and Tobago can follow suit and see the need for such (a) tournament and create a little more excitement in the country,” he ended. (windiescricket)