Lara captain due to commercial reasons
Vivian Richards feels that Lara's appointment as the captain of the West Indies squad is prompted by commercial reasons.india Updated: May 18, 2006 16:23 IST
There is always a buzz in the Islands when the Indian cricket team comes touring. The large media contingent, plus the Indians from the US, bring with them a sense of excitement that is a pretty decent dress rehearsal of what's in store for us in 2007.
While the hosts are busy using this as a dry run for the game's biggest showpiece, West Indian cricket continues to spring one surprise after the other. The latest one has been the choice of Brian Lara as captain.
Clearly, it is a decision prompted by commercial considerations, keeping in mind the World Cup. It's also a decision that might last only till that tournament, and chances are that Lara's appointment was not a very popular decision among the players.
However, this short-term appointment was necessary because some of the other players in contention were not yet mature or responsible enough for the position of captain.
The West Indian Cricket Board has been lurching from one crisis to another, and hopefully we have heard the last of the one regarding sponsorship.
It is significant that the new president has removed the CEO — evidence that the board's administration was far from satisfactory.
In this bleak scenario, the one thing that the West Indian fans can cheer about is the improvement in the team. Players like Chris Gayle, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan have joined forces with Lara to lend muscle to the batting.
The bowling is also looking good, with Fidel Edwards holding out a promise of pace. He looks more in control now than he did 12 months ago, and if he lands it in the zone of uncertainty a little more often, he will certainly trouble some of the Indian batsmen.
There are also players like Dwayne Bravo and Denesh Ramdin who give the team some options lower down the order. All told, it is a fighting one-day unit, and Indians might find the opposition quite challenging.
The 5-0 scoreline against Zimbabwe was expected, but the convincing nature of the wins means that the team has some momentum with them before taking on India.
As far as the Indians are concerned, it's quite a young team, but it is a team that has been very successful in the subcontinent of late. Among the young guns, I saw a bit of Irfan Pathan in the New Year's Test in Sydney, 2004.
I have always liked watching left-arm bowlers, and he looked a very promising youngster. What's more, bowlers like Chaminda Vaas have always been successful against our batsmen, and if Pathan keeps fit, he could be a handful for the hosts.
I am also happy to hear that the stylish yet unpredictable Yuvraj Singh has now become a mature, reliable member of the team.
Virender Sehwag was hugely successful when we visited India in 2002. Of late, he has hit a rough patch, and according to me this will be his true test.
At times like this, you have to play your way out of the situation, graft and defend balls you would actually like to send into outer space. I know it's tough for an aggressive batsman like Sehwag, but it is the only way to get back into form.
I also hope that Mohd Kaif gets a few opportunities because I like his enthusiasm on the field.
The Indians would rate this as their best chance to beat the West Indians in the West Indies in Tests. However, they will not find it easy because this West Indian team has the ability to cause a few surprises if luck goes their way.