Lara says Windies will struggle to reach top again
Legendary batsman Brian Lara has described West Indies cricket as “a laughing stock”, in the wake of the last month’s abandoned tour of India and the subsequent bickering between Caribbean cricket authorities and players.
The former captain was speaking in Sydney, Australia after arriving to play in next week’s pro-am golf tournament ahead of the Australian Open at The Australian Golf Club.
Lara, who retired from international cricket in 2007, said a lack of communication especially on the part of the West Indies Cricket Board, was at the centre of the latest controversy.
“We’re a laughing stock at present. It’s very unfortunate,” Lara told Australian media.
“The real problem is communication. I won’t point fingers. I am very biased towards players, because I was a player and I’ve experienced relationships in the past with the West Indies Cricket Board and I know what they’re like.”
He continued: “There is no communication and it escalates into something disastrous. Communication is something I have never experienced with the West Indies Cricket Board, as a captain and as a player. I suspect it’s the same thing that’s going on at the moment.”
Lara, too, was at the centre of a pay dispute with the board 16 years ago, when he and several West Indies players refused to travel to South Africa from London until the board addressed their concerns.
Ironically, the latest impasse has come ahead of the Test and one-day tour of South Africa scheduled to start next month, and already there has been considerable concern about the tour coming off as planned.
The Windies players abruptly walked off the tour of the tour of India last month over a contracts row with their union, the West Indies Players Association.
They completed only four matches of the intended six-match limited overs series, and also put paid to the three-Test series that was supposed to bowl off on October 30th.
A furious Indian Cricket Board blamed the fiasco on the WICB and subsequently slapped them with a compensation claim of US$42 million.
Meetings between the feuding parties, chaired by St Vincent’s Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, have yet to produce a definitive resolution to the impasse.
“It’s sad where our cricket has reached. It’s out in the open. The egos have to get out of the way. It’s very frustrating. It’s not something you envisage from a country that has brought so much joy to their people,” Lara said.
“I don’t want to put my foot in my mouth and express blame. But it’s really sad that we haven’t come to terms with what cricket means to us.”
Ironically, the left-hander’s remarkable career coincided with the lean years of West Indies cricket. Despite his record 11 953 runs, two records for the highest Test score and 34 centuries from 131 Tests, West Indies continued to slide to their current number eight in the world rankings.
As to whether West Indies could reach their number one status in the world again, Lara remained doubtful.
“It might be tough to get back. Those halcyon days from the 1970s and ‘80s where we were dominating are over. We’ve got to put that into the history books,” Lara said.
“But I honestly believe we have the best talent in the world. When you look at a West Indian when he is 17, a fast bowler or batsman, and what he’s capable of, I still think we have the best talent. We take very good talent and turn them into ordinary talent.”