Lara in the spotlight

West Indies skipper not greater than game

Tony Cozier

July 4, 2006

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Brain Lara reflects after the defeat in Jamaica © AFP
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For anyone else in such a position of trust, responsibility and leadership, Brian Lara's third term as West Indies captain would now be at an end. Instead, he has announced that he himself will decide if and when he goes, not an acquiescent board that has twice beseeched him to return.

Whatever his frustrations, Lara's repeated rantings in recent weeks against selections that did not accord to his opinions and pitches that did not take his fancy were out of order and unbecoming of a revered and experienced cricketer recalled specifically to provide guidance to his young successors.

They might have deflected attention away from his own tactical deficiencies on the field but, more critically, they acted as a distraction from the task at hand. Regrettably, they simply gained in intensity until the festering boil burst on the last day of the final Test at Sabina on Sunday.

Lara chose the globally-televised post-match presentation ceremony to embarrass West Indies cricket by repeating his assertion that his team had been undermined by "bad pitches and bad selection".

He elaborated at the subsequent media conference, adding the slanderous implication that the pitch at Sabina Park had been purposely prepared to suit India.

He was so consumed by such irritation that, while batting in the morning in an effort to win the Test, he pointedly turned in the direction of the ground staff after Harbhajan Singh spun an off-break past his edge and cynically applauded on his bat.

It was a cheap gesture that demeaned one of the finest batsmen ever to grace the game. His dismissal soon after was not unexpected.

Lara later told the media he would "revisit" his position as captain once the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) named its selectors at a meeting in a couple of weeks' time. The message was clear. If they did not satisfy him, he would quit-as he has done twice before.

That he did not do so immediately tells a story. He has had his way with the WICB so repeatedly that he is confident it will once more submit to his ultimatum. It might even appoint him sole selector and, in the bargain, supervisor of pitches. After all, its new president, Ken Gordon, persuaded the great and the good of West Indies cricket three months ago to plead with him to once more come to its rescue.

And where was president Gordon while this latest crisis was brewing? What, indeed, was the WICB's response to the captain's shots fired across the bows of its selectors and its ground authorities? The answer to the first question is that the president was in Germany observing the football World Cup with reference to next year's cricket equivalent in the Caribbean.

The answer to the second is that the WICB has uttered not a word. It has been even more rudderless than ever since it has been without a chief executive officer after Roger Brathwaite jumped ship on April 30.

It is no wonder Lara can receive a letter on June 29, dated May 28, advising him he has been appointed a selector. That it was probably a typographical error was typical of the incompetence that has contributed to the decline of our cricket and to the reversal of the maxim that no man is greater than the game.

© Trinidad & Tobago Express

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