The West Indies bowling coach hit back at critics who say the side lacks passion and talent, insisting the squad will prove their naysayers wrong.
Champion batsman Brian Lara says it is no surprise there is a shrinking pool of youngsters aspiring to play for the West Indies, above all else because current senior players are setting a bad example by chasing cheques in Twenty20 competitions.
But Lara also said the players were not totally culpable, slamming the “badly run” West Indies Cricket Board and hinting there would be an upheaval in Caribbean cricket administration because the WICB was ignoring member nations’ leaders and “acting like a law unto themselves”.
“What you’re talking about is a badly run cricket board, and [when] the player relationship with board members is not really good you’re going to head in the direction where you feel comfortable,” Lara said on Fox Sports’ Inside Cricket. “The guys don’t trust the board any more. They don’t even trust the players’ association. I mean, what choice do they have?”
Brian Lara laments that current young cricketers did not have the sort of role models who were in the great West Indies teams.
Former Australia captain Allan Border sympathised with the circumstances that have led the likes of Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo to focus on domestic Twenty20 tournaments, such as the looming Big Bash League where they will represent Melbourne Renegades, ahead of playing for the West Indies.
“The reality is you’ve got an offer of $2 million here [in IPL] and $100,000 there [from the West Indies]. I mean, what decision are you going to make? You want to play for your country, yes, but that is just poles apart,” he said.
“We’ve got to work out some sort of compromise so it’s county first and franchise-cricket second.”
Lara said he was inspired during his childhood by watching the dominant West Indies team, and its cornerstone players. He lamented current young cricketers did not have those sort of role models.
“You’ve got youngsters coming in and [critics] saying they don’t have the passion to play for the West Indies team, but that can only come from examples,” Lara said.
“I believe that the example being set now is that guys are heading off to franchise cricket, everyone wants to make a lot of money out of the game, and the West Indies seems to be very much secondary. If that’s the example, then you’re not going to get the passion from the youngsters.”
Former Australia vice-captain Brad Haddin said while he welcomed hearing retired players such as Sir Garfield Sobers and Curtly Ambrose speak about their deep affection for West Indies cricket, he wanted current senior players such as Marlon Samuels and Dwayne Bravo to publicly do the same.
“It’s great to see the past players with passion for the game, but I’d like to see some of the current crop step up, front the media and say ‘We’ve got the same passion about moving West Indies cricket forward’,” Haddin said on Inside Cricket.
Lara, however, doubted the capacity of Samuels, 34, and former one-day captain Bravo, 32, to be able to do as Haddin suggested.
“They don’t know West Indies cricket, they don’t have an understanding of the history, so how could they be passionate? They just want to know where they can get the next cheque to pay their bills—which is understandable,” Lara said. “But you’ve got to play a sport because of the passion you develop over the years. They would not be able to handle a press conference like that.”
The only time Lara deviated from his criticism of the WICB was its decision to install bowling all-rounder Jason Holder, 24, as captain in all formats. He said he hoped it would be a landmark appointment for the West Indies.
“I think the West Indies have an opportunity with a young man like that…to build something around him. South Africa did it in about 2003 with Graeme Smith. Maybe this is an opportunity,” Lara said.
“Support him, don’t worry about the results too much, and see whether you can build something over the next ten years with him.”
Lara urged Holder, if given the opportunity by winning the toss on Thursday, to bowl first in the series-opening Test against Australia, believing it would be “impossible” for the team to make enough runs batting first to put pressure on the home team. He said paceman Jerome Taylor could be a key bowler, but had to be supported to ensure the pressure he created did not dissipate at the other end. (Sydney Morning Herald)