Cricketing great and former West Indies captain Brian Lara has signalled an interest in moving from the field to the boardroom.
Lara has indicated that he is willing to stand for the post of president of the West Indies Cricket Board in the future. Although his expression of interest has come too late for the WICB elections scheduled for this Saturday, his decision could stoke the interest of Caribbean fans and regional cricket boards in the face of problems experienced by the current administration and the widening divide with its players.
Lara, one of the leading batsmen of his generation, said Azim Bassarath, Trinidad & Tobago Cricket Board president, had asked him whether he would have any interest in running for the WICB presidency. Currently doing commentary during the World Cup, Lara said what strengthened his resolve was the growing lack of faith in West Indies cricket from the outside world.
“Mr Bassarath had suggested that I should get involved and he and his board would seriously consider supporting me,” Lara told the Trinidad Guardian. “I am here in Australia with most of the top administrators and players, and even they appear to be concerned at the state of our cricket. The way they speak is like they have little faith in our future. I am ready to get involved.”
Lara has never been shy of taking on the administration. One of West Indies’ greatest-ever players, Lara was involved in bitter disputes with the WICB during his days as a player and as captain. Lara brought a strong individuality to his batting, yet as captain he was never as successful – West Indies won only 10 of 47 Tests with him in charge, and 59 out of 125 ODIs. Yet with his batting Lara could unite the Caribbean like no one else, and the possibility of him returning as an administrator could come as a happy move for the supporters of Caribbean cricket.
“If you are a West Indian, and understand what cricket means to us, you have to feel that we could do a lot better than we are currently doing,” Lara said. “We have had so many talented young men coming up and suddenly, they just disappear off the scene, while our cricket continues to decline. Nobody appears to care about them.”
Lara’s criticism of the current WICB administration, led by Dave Cameron, had become increasingly vocal. Last November, speaking to ESPNcricinfo in Sydney, Lara said that West Indies’ pullout from the India tour was a watershed moment. He said communication was missing between the administrators and players and without that trust West Indies cricket would face a lot of problems while continuing to languish at the bottom of the ICC rankings. Currently West Indies occupy the No. 8 spot in both Tests and ODIs.
Lara said he would always remain biased towards the players.
“There’s so much cricket being played now where players can make a living outside the West Indies under different administration. Yes maybe that could be a difference, but the ultimate thing is you’re playing for the West Indies, you want to play for the West Indies, you love the West Indies. And I would love one day where guys are playing for West Indies and money not being an issue because they’re making so much money outside of that.
“But that can only happen if you have the relationships with the board and all the stakeholders. There’s no trust, everybody wants their piece of the pie and that’s it. Unfortunately until we have better relationships, West Indies cricket is going to be very problematic.”
Despite being in control for two years and once again a favourite to retain the presidency, Cameron has lost some original supporters, such as the TTCB. In the previous elections held in 2013, the T&T board led by Bassarath had supported Cameron. But this time it has opted to ally behind Joel Garner, the former West Indies fast bowler, who has cast his hat into the ring representing the Barbados Cricket Association.
Bassarath said the reason he approached Lara was because he was the “ideal person” for the job.
“I believe that Brian would be an ideal person to lead West Indies cricket and, as a matter of fact, I approached him a few months ago about such a possibility,” he said. “But unfortunately, he is too late for us to nominate him for the elections which will take place on Saturday. The constitution of the WICB does not allow us to nominate him at this late stage, since nominations closed one month before the elections.
“The presence of someone as great as Lara on the West Indies board can give us so much credibility and stature in the eyes of the rest of the world. It’s a pity he is unable to be part of this year’s process.”
In a glittering career, Lara played 430 internationals (299 ODIs and 131 Tests) scoring 22 358 runs with 53 centuries, while averaging 52.88 in Tests and 40.48 in ODIs. He holds the world record score in Tests, 400 not out, as well as the highest first-class score, an unbeaten 501.