West Indies v England, 3rd Test, Barbados April 4, 2004

Sobers: 'We underestimated England'

Wisden Cricinfo staff

Sir Garry Sobers: 'Complacency is the only conclusion I can come to' © Getty Images

The West Indians' humiliation at the hands of England has stirred Sir Garry Sobers into criticising the team's preparation - but he defended Brian Lara's position as captain.

Sobers, one of the finest allrounders of all time, said that West Indies have paid for not taking England seriously enough and not treating them with respect. "I think we underestimated England," he told BBC radio. "We returned home after performing so well on tour to South Africa and thought we would do well at home. We hadn't heard much about England's bowlers so we underestimated them. Complacency is the only conclusion I can come to for these results."

But with no shortage of pundits and former players rounding on West Indies, Sobers was at pains to point out that they were not a bad side. "[They are] a good team, make no mistake about that. I think they have a lot of ability. They came back from South Africa after scoring over 300 runs every time they batted. That's a very good sign of the calibre of the players we have."

And Sobers refused to add his voice to those calling for Lara to be sacked. "Brian's contribution has been tremendous. His record in South Africa and Zimbabwe was very good, and he came back as the world's No. 1 batsman," he argued. "The captaincy didn't affect his form in South Africa. He shouldn't be replaced ... who is there to replace him anyway? We haven't reached the standard yet where we can afford to replace him."

Lara himself would not be drawn into the subject of captaincy. "I'm devastated and it's very hard to put my feelings into words," he admitted. "We have to re-group and put our emotions back together. The guys are in shock. We need to get it together and get going in Antigua."