Lara: If we don't win then I'll quit
Brian Lara, only seven weeks after smashing the world Test batting record, has promised to resign as captain if West Indies do not beat lowly Bangladesh in the second Test at Sabina Park, which starts today.
"If we don't win," Lara announced at a pre-Test news conference, "then I don't think I'm going to lead the team to England. If we don't beat Bangladesh in five good days of cricket in Jamaica, I think we need another leader."
Lara was urged by many in his homeland to give up the job during West Indies' recent 3-0 thrashing by England. He appeared to have fought off his critics with his brilliant 400 not out in the fourth Test of that series.
Now, after West Indies trailed Bangladesh on first innings on the way to a scratchy draw in St Lucia, his leadership is again under intense scrutiny. Even a draw in the second and last Test, it seems, will not save him.
His former coach Bryan Davis, the West Indian Test opener of the 1960s, criticised the timing of his threat to quit. "Lara must shoulder some of the burden for the poor showing of the team but I don't think he should have spoken out at this time," he said. "The timing of the decision is poor. While I understand how Lara feels, I can't agree with his statement at this time. I feel it is premature. Certainly to say this before the match is not good. A statement like that is putting a lot of pressure on himself and his team."
Lara has lost nine, drawn six and won only two Tests since beginning his second stint as West Indian captain a year ago. His overall record is almost as dismal: 19 defeats, nine victories, seven draws. But if his leadership has not inspired his troops it has at least had an uplifting effect on his own batting. In 35 Tests as captain he has hit ten hundreds and averages 61.72.
Lara is hopeful the bouncier Sabina Park track will suit his team, although he did make a point of offering the following cautionary advice to his four-man pace attack.
"I hope what they don't do is think that because it's quick and bouncy we need to intimidate the Bangladeshi batsmen," said Lara. "We are going to get the bounce and the pace out of it. We just need to bowl the right line and length."
Fail to do that, and the repercussions for Caribbean cricket scarcely bear thinking about.