You are reminded of him no matter where you are in Port of Spain. At the city esplanade, on the walls that surround the Queen’s Park Oval, and even in the press box, the other end of which is the huge Brian Lara pavilion.
In these parts of the Caribbean, Lara is an emotional topic. People readily take a trip down memory lane to describe their favourite Lara moment. They don’t like to compare him with anybody, not even Sachin Tendulkar, at times. To them, Lara still embodies fulfillment of their expectations when he arrived to bat with the West Indies’ back to the wall.
Pretty much the same expectations are building around Savion Lara, his cousin and an upcoming batsman. But there are also doubts whether Savion, a 19-year-old cricketer, who plays club cricket for Queen’s Park, has the capability to even go anywhere near Brian’s calibre. Savion though has slowly and steadily come up the ranks in Trinidad & Tobago.
“When I saw him for the first time I got the impression he is definitely West Indies material. He will make it to the team. What I’m not so sure about is whether he is Lara material,” said Tony Gray, a former West Indies fast bowler who also looks into the youth programme of the country.
Currently, Savion is in England, playing for the Purley Cricket Club in Surrey. In May this year, he was selected to travel to England to train with Somerset as part of a scholarship programme started by West Indies player Kieron Pollard last year.
So far, the going has been good for Savion in the Surrey Championship Division Two competition. In eight matches, he has scored 457 runs at an average of 76 with one century and three fifties. Those who have seen him say he has many similarities with Lara when it comes to batting.
“He is left-handed. And he scores a lot of runs just like Lara,” said Gray. “Savion has that mentality to stay at the wicket for long hours and graft his runs. He reminds of Lara in many ways, but again, he can also bowl medium pace,” he said.
Savion played school cricket for Fatima College, which incidentally was also the same school Brian played for during his junior days. “Savion’s rise has been steady. He scored a lot of runs while playing school cricket and flourished during his time with the U-19 Trinidad & Tobago team,” said Gray.
Fazeer Mohammed, a senior journalist here, though said the expectations could be burdensome for the younger Lara. “People are still not aware of the name Savion Lara. For that he has to work very hard and score a lot of runs. Living up to the name Lara isn’t easy,” he said.