Beyond Lara: Coming of age for Windies

He has not done anything that makes him what he is of late, but Lara is a happy man.

india Updated: May 30, 2006 11:29 IST

He Has not done anything that makes him what he is of late, but Brian Lara is homeward bound a happy man. His team leaves for Trinidad and Tobago -- where the last two ODIs will be played -- with a 2-1 lead that looked distinctly unlikely till the penultimate delivery of the second match.

With the West Indies pulling off successive wins in tight situations, the man who has been a lone warrior of sorts for years looked relieved and sounded so too. “It’s good to see that the team has moved away from the Brian Lara scenario. We now have players putting up their hands when we need them and nothing could have been better for our cricket,” said Lara after the third ODI.

For a man whose best innings coincided with the worst moments of West Indian cricket, it was heartening. “It was nice to see Sars (Ramnaresh Sarwan) play a pivotal role in these two games and see him mature as a player. I wanted to have him, my self and (Shivnarine) Chanderpaul at No. 4, 5 and 6 because we needed experience in that part of our batting order.

“Nothing pleases me more than to see these guys doing the job even though my contribution has been nil. I expect these guys to do it more regularly and also expect others like Runako Morton, Dwayne Bravo and Marlon Samuels to deliver. It’s important to have some inhouse competition.” The man with some of the greatest of deeds in the history of the game appeared emotional while talking about the last two games of the ODI series. “I don’t think I will play a one-day match at my home ground ever again because our World Cup matches will not be played there. It’s going to be a momentous occasion for me and I am looking forward to winning on Friday and enjoying Sunday.” It had been a while since the West Indies beat a quality side twice in as many games and the apostle of quality in their ranks said the encouraging sign was the way these victories were achieved. “It’s important for selfbelief to succeed under pressure and I think we have shown some character in the last two matches.

“Handling pressure while chasing is the key and having done that here, I think people will stop taking us for granted. We have tried to make it clear that this series is between two equally placed teams and it’s clear that the Indians will have a bit of thinking to do now.” Lara admitted that cricket may not be the hottest commodity on his home territory these days with the ‘Soca Warriors’ of Trinidad and Tobago having qualified for the football World Cup, but said that there is rivalry between the two games.

“I spoke to Dwight Yorke (former Manchester United striker and arguably the most famous footballer to have come out of the Caribbean) this morning and will surely speak to him again in the next few days. It’s good that we have qualified for the World Cup but we are looking at winning another World Cup (in 2007).”

Lara’s performance Innings by innings

(last 15 ODIs) ¦ 268 runs at an avg of 20.61 ¦ His only fifty came against Zimbabwe ¦ Lara scored his last hundred (156) against Pakistan at Adelaide in 2004-05 Last 15 ODIs M Runs Hs Avg 100 50 15 268 56 20.61 0 1 Career ODI average: 41.01 Last 15 Tests M Runs HS Avg 100 50 15 1409 226 50.32 5 3 Career Test average: 53.02

First Published: May 25, 2006 13:04 IST