Walsh in Lara's corner

Tony Becca , Senior Sport Editor

January 15, 1998

CRICKET: Fast bowler Courtney Walsh has declared his full support for new captain Brian Lara.

In a short press conference at Sabina Park yesterday in which he confirmed his availability for the first Test against England starting at Sabina Park on January 29, Walsh said his priority is West Indies cricket and he had no problems with Lara.

``I have always considered myself a part of the team, and West Indies cricket has been good to me,'' said Walsh who was relieved of the captaincy just over a week ago.

Opening the press conference by saying that he wanted to end the controversy over the captaincy and his availability, and also to bury it once and for all, Walsh said that he is available for selection and will support Lara all the way.

``Of course I was disappointed losing the captaincy, but that's not the end of the world,'' said the Jamaica captain. ``I believe I still have a part to play, we have a new captain, and I want to be there with him. I want Brian and all the people in the Caribbean to know that I will be supporting him.''

According to Walsh, who said that he did not start as a captain, that he did not have to end as a captain, and that you don't have to be a captain to play the game, he finally made up his mind to make himself available on Wednesday night - and for many reasons.

``I had to answer some questions for myself. I did not know if I still had the appetite for the game so I had to find out. That is why the match against Barbados was important to me. I felt good during the match, and after the game I felt I could still compete at the highest level.

``A lot of people spoke to me, I got a lot of letters and faxes, not only from here in Jamaica but from all over the world, and I felt that a lot of people would probably feel betrayed if I did not make myself available - and they would also probably believe that I did not get along with Brian. I also feel that I will come out a better person for it.

``Another reason is that people have been speculating that Brian will be getting a rough time here, and that it would be worse if I did not play. I remembered what happened at Chedwin Park (last October during Red Stripe Bowl match). I don't want that happen again, and I am going to do everything to see that it does not happen.''

One of the reasons why Walsh was undecided about his future in West Indies cricket was the reaction if he failed.

``I did not want to play, not do well, and people start saying that I was sabotaging Brian. I could not take that.''

Did the prospect of breaking Malcolm Marshall's West Indies record of 376 Test wickets influenced Walsh's decision to make himself available?

``No, not at all,'' said Walsh who is on 353 from 96 Test matches. ``It would be nice to get there, but only if we win the series. Wickets and records mean nothing if you lose. I want to make it clear that that had nothing to do with my decision. I still think I have something to contribute to West Indies cricket.''

So how long it will be. Is this the last series or are you prepared to go on after this?

``I am going to take it one step at a time. If I play well in this one, you never know. As long as I feel I can make it, as long as the selectors want me, I believe I will be available.

Source: The Jamaica Gleaner

Contributed by CricInfo Management, and reproduced with permission
Date-stamped : 25 Feb1998 - 19:08