'I'd like to be a player-mentor in the IPL'

Part one: Brian Lara on life after retirement, Tendulkar's longevity, and his Twenty20 ambitions (00:00)

December 2, 2010


Brian Lara

'I'd like to be a player-mentor in the IPL'

December 2, 2010

Brian Lara is cheered at Centre Court, Wimbledon, June 26, 2010
Brian Lara enjoys life after international cricket © Associated Press

Dan Williams: Brian, it's been three years now since you have retired from cricket. Do you sometimes wake up in the morning and think, "Oh, better quickly get to the ground."

Brian Lara: Not really. I actually played my first few competitive games just a few days ago in Zimbabwe, but I have no regrets leaving the game. I thought it was about the right time. Yes, I had a couple of years left in me to play international cricket - be it Test cricket or one-dayers - but I felt that the team and the position that we were in in world cricket, especially after the World Cup, where we were very disappointed in not even qualifying for the semi-finals... that sort of set me back and I realised that the team needs to move on, somebody else needs to take charge, and they don't need someone like me hanging on there.

Obviously if I was asked, "C'mon, be a father figure, we need you." I would have considered it, but I felt that it was the right decision. I am happy with it, I am still happy with it. I am playing a lot more golf. I am spending a lot more time with my family, which is good.

DW: Do you miss playing cricket, and if so what particular aspect?

BL: Not really. Actually why I am trying Twenty20 is because I think it is a great form of the game and I have never had the opportunity to play it. I believe that it is not as difficult as a Test match or a 50-over game. You get out there, you have few swings, and if you connect… so be it, you could be successful. You see the likes of Dwayne Smith, Kieron Pollard - these guys, big hitters of the cricket ball. Obviously there is still a bit of art in it, because the likes of Tendulkar and Jacques Kallis are still scoring runs in that form of the game. So I wanted to try it out and I wish I had the opportunity too. But Test cricket is beyond me, and the 50-over game is something I just watch and enjoy when I can.

DW: Now Sachin Tendulkar started playing cricket before you, and he is still playing now. Do you sometimes wonder how he can keep going?

BL: Well, obviously he is three years younger. So at his age I would now be packing it up. He has all the right to continue. He is still an outstanding player, he is one of the greats of the game. Starting at 16, it gives him that great span - he has gone over 20-plus years of playing international cricket, which is good. He had a few injuries, few setbacks, but he is still out there performing and credit must be given to him: in excess of 30,000 international runs, great number of centuries. Obviously he is someone that every youngster can look up to, and I think he is going to be a mark right up there in the future, like Sir Donald Bradman was 50 years ago.

DW: You played a couple of seasons of the ICL, what made you do it?

BL: Well, when the ICL first came to me, it was not a rebel league. It had the likes of Tony Greig and Kapil Dev [associated with it]. That was a league that was trying to bring the game forward. I put my name in ink, which was obviously a mistake at the end of it. But I have no regrets. That's gone. I played one season and I asked them to excuse me, because obviously after having such a long career, you don't want to be playing ICL cricket and considered a rebel and banned from all levels of cricket. So I would again say that it was not a bad decision. It was a decent decision at that time but it turned out, regrettably, to be a decision that sort of sidelined players for three years or so. Mohammad Yousuf had some problems as well. I would love to put that behind me.

Just a little point: Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath were actually supposed to sign at the same time I was signing. So they were quite lucky, and obviously used their heads a little bit more than I did.

DW: Now you have started playing a little bit of cricket again, and that's led to some speculation that you may be available for an IPL side next year. Any truth in that?

BL: Well, if you really look at it, the league that I picked, Zimbabwe, is not the toughest league. And I thought if I was to give myself a chance to play in the IPL in April-May next year, then I need to start now. Actually I tried negotiating with Surrey and that fell through - and that was back in May - to play in Twenty20 in England. I am not going to say that I am ready for the IPL. Obviously the option is around the corner, and yes I have put my name in the hat. But I would need to consistently play cricket from now till then to get fit and ready and capable of doing justice to the game and to my form in such a highly competitive league.

DW: There must be an IPL side out there that will willingly take a punt on Brian Lara?

BL: You look from the sidelines and you see: Shane Warne is not just the captain or a player, he is also a mentor and coach. Stephen Fleming is also there, and there are a couple of other players, like Darren Lehmann. I would like to see myself in that light as well. I don't want to be fighting with the youngsters for a game… left out today, playing tomorrow. I would like to see myself as someone who can make a contribution even if I am not in the final XI. I would like to get involved in a holistic way and not just as a player.

Posted by   on (December 3, 2010, 1:36 GMT)

still one of the classiest cricketers in the history of the game....

a true great...

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