Lara unveiled as BPL ambassador
Brian Lara has been unveiled as the brand ambassador of Chittagong Kings for the second season of the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) and the former West Indies batsman believes the franchise system will widen the net to find talented cricketers across the world.
He will accompany the Kings' ownership in commercial and promotional activities, but is not likely to have a coaching role. But he will be sought out by the young players in the squad for batting tips, especially the local ones who are extremely eager to have a player who scored 11,953 Test runs and 10,405 in ODIs at such close proximity.
"I love the invention of the franchise teams," Lara said. "I think it takes away a lot of control that the individual boards have. It brings about a lot of income for the players and also for the owners, and you see a lot more people coming to watch the T20 game. That in itself has a lot of benefit and goes down to the grassroots level.
"In the West Indies we found it very difficult to get teenage cricketers playing. We are now launching our own T20 franchise cricket and hopefully that will see a lot more youngsters get the opportunity to advance."
Lara has supported the similar concept in Zimbabwe, where he played a few games two years ago. He cited the example of Viv Richards, who was in Australia's Big Bash League, as a means for legends to spread the word. "As a former cricketer you want to give something back," he said. "I was in Zimbabwe a few years back and supported them in their game at the Test level and at the one-day level, I actually even played in their T20 competition.
"But it's just a matter of wanting to get back. You saw Viv Richards in Australia recently. There have been a couple of other players in the world. I am quite happy to do something like this. The younger players who are not up to their highest standards, I think I get a lot more benefit or satisfaction to helping a team that needs someone like myself."
The game will be popular, he believed, but not at the cost of other formats. "I believe now with T20 cricket, a lot more people are watching the game. Just remember, we are all entertainers," he said. "If this kind of cricket brings interest to the people, cricketers will be happy to indulge in it. Test cricket is still important, so are ODIs, but T20 should be there too because of the crowd factor."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent