Indian Cricket League March 13, 2008

IPL and ICL will break monopolies - Lara

Cricinfo staff

Brian Lara: "I'm very happy to have played as many Tests as I have because I don't think it's ever going to be the same in the future" © AFP

Brian Lara has said that the Indian Cricket League and the Indian Premier League are proving to be wake-up calls for cricket boards as well as the ICC.

"The boards are being challenged in different areas and now they have to be on their toes and have to mind their Ps and Qs," Lara told the Hindustan Times. "Three to four years ago in India and other places you had problems between the boards and the players when it came to player rights and contracts. Now you have a different situation with the franchising of teams and private entities getting directly involved with cricket."

Lara said the leagues had given players options to explore. "If you ask a New Zealand cricketer what his financial terms are with his country you'll realise that the IPL and ICL are good avenues. I've played Test matches in New Zealand, where there are two men and a dog watching while next door there are 60,000 people watching a rugby game. So the New Zealand Cricket have to get their act together and make sure they keep their cricketers. They need to develop that financial stability. You can't blame a young man for going out there and seeking to make a living for himself and his family."

Further, Lara believed the gap between international and first-class cricket had to be bridged and that the leagues would help with that. "That's when cricket will become strong. And leagues like this will help that. The disparity between international cricket and domestic cricket is so huge and you had a monopoly situation where you had to playing for Trinidad and then West Indies - or India or Australia - to be actually worth anything. Now they're bridging the gap and players have more opportunities."

Lara had a poor series with the Mumbai Champs last year and is out for this edition of the ICL Twenty20 tournament following a fracture to his left arm. "It was not a very good experience. I didn't score too many runs. This was compounded by the fact that I was injured and no-one knew about it. I had a torn muscle in my shoulder. But it was something I had committed myself to long before."

He believed that in the future there would be a lot less of Test cricket on offer than what was the case during his playing career. "I'm very happy to have played as many Tests as I have because I don't think it's ever going to be the same in the future," Lara said. "For me as a young man, exercising my talent and expressing myself on the field was the stage I wanted to perform on.

Analysing India's performance in Australia during the last two months, Lara said it showed that India were growing as a team. "Most importantly, my watchword to India would be that when you are on top of the game that's the time you have to do the most homework. You have to go back and do what you can because people will be gunning for you. When Australia come to India next don't think they're going to be timid and accept the fact that they've been beaten by India. They're going to come strong, looking for revenge."

Lara also said that former coach John Buchanan made a mistake by advising the Australians to bowl short to Sachin Tendulkar in order to get his wicket. Buchanan had said: "You can push him [Tendulkar] back on his crease [with the short ball] and then look for a full ball, which he can tend to squirt to the slips early in his innings when he doesn't have great control." Lara said he was proud of the way Tendulkar handled the implication of his weakness. "Buchanan made a mistake by lighting a fire under Sachin. You don't say something to a player like that before a series starts and get away with it. So I was very proud of what Sachin did. But that was expected. As soon as I saw those words I knew he was going to be up for the challenge."