Lara sees one big happy family


22 Jan 1998

NEWLY-APPOINTED West Indies skipper Brian Lara yesterday declared he is ready to make whatever changes are necessary to ensure the success of his team.

And, noting the difficulty involved in bringing West Indies cricket back to the level of the successful years, the 28-year-old left-hander expressed confidence that he would have the support of the entire team in this effort.

Lara made his comments yesterday at the Queen's Park Oval when he dropped in on the Leeward Islands training session for a word with West Indian colleagues Curtly Ambrose, Stuart Williams and Kenny Benjamin.

And the media seized the opportunity to besiege Lara with questions about the composition of the 13-man West Indies squad named for the First Test against England at Sabina Park a mere hours before.

Asked whether he would be able to fit into his role as skipper, Lara fielded the question like a regulation slip catch.

``Everybody seems to have an idea of how I live my life now,'' he explained with a broad grin, ``But of course, as a West Indies captain compared to a normal West Indies player or an attractive batsman or whatever, it's two different things. It's really leading the West Indian people, not only just the cricket team.

Saying that he was aware that ``a lot of people are looking forward to things on and off the field from myself'' he said he now has to try to make the necesary adjustments.

``I have to try as much as possible to make whatever minor changes-not major-that I have to make to ensure that I fit my role perfectly.''

Tiptoeing delicately around the issue which has been a major bone of contention in the weeks since the WICB named him to succeed Jamaican Courtney Walsh, Lara continued ``All leaders have to lead by example. That's the number one rule.''

Noting that his batting form had not been what it used to be in recent times, Lara explained that he has adopted a ``new approach'' which should help.

``It's a fact that Brian Lara the batsman is no longer. I've got to ensure that the team is benefitting from my batting now. In the past you got a bit confused because you wanted the team to benefit of course but you wanted to maintain yourself as being the best batsman in the world or the most attractive batsman in the world so of course a lot of things go through your mind,'' he explained.

Then, a furrow creasing his brow, he went on: ``I think now that's gone through the window. I've got to focus more on the team. However attractive or unattractive I look now doesn't matter. At the end of the day, the result is what is important.''

Quizzed as to whether he felt this attitude would help him eclipse his own 375 Test record innings, Lara thought for a moment before quipping: `` I'd prefer five-nil.''

Turning to the issue of the nature of the relationship between him and his predecessor and Walsh's hunting partner Ambrose, Lara immediately dispelled fears that he would not have the support of the feared pace bowling duo.

``I never doubted these guys' depth of character. I know Curtly, I know Courtney and Carl Hooper,'' he declared. ``A lot of people questioned if these guys were going to play under Brian Lara but I knew in my own mix up with the team that it was never a problem.''

Then going on the attack, he added ``I think the media maybe played on that too much. But I knew I was going to get the respect and I'm going to give them the respect they deserve and we are going to have a pretty happy family.''

Lara indicated that he was hoping to draw on the experience of both Walsh and Ambrose in shaping the future team.

``Everyone knows that these guys are not going to last for years, they are gonna be retiring at some point in time. But I think they've got one asset and that is to give the team the experience that they have and to leave us on a winning-and a very happy-note.''

Making the inevitable link with the upcoming First Test, the new skipper stressed how important it is for the process of restoring West Indian cricketing fortunes to start immediately-with a win at Sabina Park!

``The first Test is of great importance, important for me and important for the team. First of all you're going one up in the series; second, it's my first Test as the official West Indies captain and anybody would like to come out on top in that sort of situation.''

So, someone asked diplomatically, will the whole team be ready for what may come their way from a Jamaican public still unhappy about the replacement of their countryman as team captain?.

``All I can do is hope for the best. Courtney (Walsh) has done a great job on it and hopefully Ambrose having come out and spoken about it will help with the sort of reaction we have in Jamaica.''

``I don't want them to give England any sort of edge by any sort of negativity coming from them,'' an upbeat Lara ended, ``and hopefully we'll get a good response and go on to have a tremendous series.''

Source: The Express (Trinidad)

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Date-stamped : 25 Feb1998 - 19:23