Lara hails T20 success but urges caution

HAMILTON, BERMUDA - Brian Lara has hailed the West Indies’ successful T20 World Cup campaign in Sri Lanka earlier this month.

However, the cricket legend has urged his fellow West Indians not to get carried away with their latest triumph, warning there is still much work to be done on the international scene.

“I find sometimes we tend to celebrate too much as a people,” Lara told The Royal Gazette. “Yes, it’s good to celebrate but we have to sort of dig deep, dissect, see the reason why we came out on top in this particular tournament and see if we can transfer some of that to the 50-over game and Test arena because it’s a start.

“It’s a wonderful start to be on top of the World in T20 cricket but what happens to the other versions of the game? Are we going to take up the challenges in those versions of the game and see if we can get to the top as well? That’s what I think is most important.

“We are on a high now, confidence is pretty good and I would say 75-80 percent of our team that plays the T20 version of the game play the 50-over version and also Test cricket, so it’s a good opportunity for us to galvanise our efforts and success and see what we can do for the future.”

With a squad boasting T20 specialists such as Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo, the West Indies entered the T20 World Cup among the pre-tournament favourites. And, according to ‘The Prince’, who captained the Windies to ICC Champions Trophy glory in 2004, rightfully so.

“Going into the tournament I think we were tournament favourites simply for the fact that we had the individuals and guys that were trump cards for the IPL or Big Bash,” Lara said. “We haven’t been able to get together as a team, but I knew we had the individuals to do so (win the T20 World Cup).

“Credit has to be given to Sammy (captain Darren Sammy), Otis Gibson (coach) and Ritchie Richardson (manager) for the job they’ve done pulling the team together because I think that’s been the thing that’s been missing in the past with the West Indies team.

“The individual talent has always been there and to see them come together and win the T20 World Cup was a special moment for all West Indians.”

In the past Sammy’s leadership has come under intense scrutiny from his critics.

However, Lara has thrown his support firmly behind the St Lucian who he holds in high regard.

“Sammy has done a wonderful job,” he said. “We have won a World Cup and you cannot say he didn’t play a part.

“He’s a great guy first of all and I believe as a leader you need someone who’s affable and well received by everybody on the team, and I think he is well received by everyone on the team.

“Sammy is a very humble guy as well and credit must be given where it’s due and the performance of the team and his leadership definitely played a part in this success (T20 World Cup) of the team.”

Lara ended his 17-year international career as Test cricket’s leading run-getter with what was previously a record 11,953 runs at an average of 52.88.

He still holds records for the highest individual score in Test (400 not out) and first-class (501 not out) cricket among a host of other remarkable achievements in the sport.

Last month Lara was inducted into the ICC’s Hall of Fame during a ceremony in Sri Lanka that was also attended by his sister Agnes and brother Winston.

‘It’s a great honour to be inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame,” he said. “Even though you’ve stopped playing people are still recognizing the fact you’ve made a contribution and it’s a great feeling to be a part of a such a selective group of former cricketers.”

Lara dedicated the honour to his late father, Bunty, who never got the opportunity to see his son play in the international arena.

“Most things that I do on the cricket field is because of him,” Lara stressed. “He played a great part in my life.

“ Unfortunately he never got to see me play international cricket. But I owe everything to that man, Bunty Lara.”

First Published In The Royal Gazette.

Sat, 10/27/2012 - 04:30