West Indies v Australia, Final, Champions Trophy November 5, 2006

'We have a bit of a stage-fright' - Lara



'We didn't bat smart. I thought after the start, if we could have got to even 225, it would have been a fighting total' - Brian Lara © AFP

Brian Lara, captain of the West Indies team, admitted that it was a huge disappointment to come so close to defending the Champions Trophy and then stumble at the final hurdle. "It's very disappointing to lose the final. We were quietly confident going into this match," he said. "But I think we have a bit of a stage-fright when it comes to the big occasions."

"We got off to a great start but unfortunately, we lost wickets in groups. We didn't bat the way we wanted to, and there was another collapse, we have to accept it. We have been in two finals in the last two months, and in both matches, we didn't even get to 150. We have to have a look at that and come up with a remedy. We didn't give ourselves a chance today. We didn't bat smart. I thought after the start, if we could have got to even 225, it would have been a fighting total. But we lost it with the bat."

At the same time, Lara refused to believe that it was pressure of playing against tougher opposition in crunch games that led to the collapses his side has suffered. "The collapses have nothing to do with pressure. It is a part of the game we have to eradicate, it has no bearing on who the opposition are," he said. "Saying that, Australia played the better cricket today. They had their backs to the wall after the first eight-ten overs. They never say die, and they got right back into it. Australia have played so many finals recently that they know how to bounce back. They are very professional, and know how to win and get out of tough situations."

At the end of the day, though, there were many positives Lara could take out of the tournament, and with how West Indies finished up. "But not many people expected us to reach the final here, and we are glad we got this far," he said. "We are an improving team, and now we need to build on this momentum."

Chris Gayle, player of the tournament for his 474 runs, accompanied Lara to the post-match press conference, and spoke of his dream run in the tournament. "This is a dream tournament for me," he said. "I am glad I contributed a lot to the team, I have always wanted to contribute to the team's cause. But I will not do anything different from here on. I want to keep my feet on the ground, be myself and don't get over-excited. I will need to start from scratch the next time I go out to bat."

Anand Vasu is assistant editor of Cricinfo