West Indies cricket

Lara calls for better infrastructure in West Indies

Cricinfo staff

March 11, 2010

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Brian Lara couldn't sign off his international career in style, England v West Indies, Super Eights, Barbados, April 21, 2007
Brian Lara has proposed setting up a centralised academy to groom young cricketers in the Caribbean © Getty Images
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Brian Lara has welcomed the increasing international exposure that young cricketers in the West Indies are gaining by participating in the IPL and in Australia. However, he said that the trend was a reflection of a poor infrastructure in the Caribbean for grooming young talent to play at the highest level. Lara, while proposing the establishment of a centralised cricket academy, also called for a change in personnel among those running the game in the region to bring about a revival.

"We've always had the talent in the Caribbean," Lara told reporters in Mumbai. "The exposure internationally for them is going to be very good. That's something we had in the seventies. A lot of our cricketers then, like Sir Viv Richards, Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, they all went to England to play county cricket. So, obviously, the opportunity for our youngsters to play in the IPL, in Australia or England is very exciting and promising.

"But it means we are very weak in how we handle our own talent in the Caribbean. We have not set up any proper academy to take care of them. And that is where we are falling down in our support for our teenagers. If the Indians or the English are making that opportunity available, I think it's good."

While in London recently, Lara said the current set-up in the West Indies relied heavily on the natural ability of players, which was inadequate to compensate for the absence of a proper institutional structure. "I believe that our structure is not good," Lara said. "We do not have the academies to support the youngsters and our team is still built on natural ability and in sport nowadays natural ability is a small part of it.

"The amount of technology that is happening and how people are learning about the game much faster, I believe we need to head in that direction and there's nowhere on the horizon that I've seen where we have taken that step."

A centralised academy for the various islands playing cricket in the Caribbean, Lara said, was the way to go forward. "I think the main thing is that we need to set up academies, and not necessarily every single island having one, but I think we should have a centralised academy where all the youngsters come together under good coaches.

"Maybe past players, [it] does not matter who the coaches are as long as they are well qualified and get them working together. I believe if we do that then maybe five, 10 years down the line you can see some semblance of what we were doing in the past.

"At present I think we are just doing what we did 20-25 years ago and hoping that the kids with the talent will come through and we will beat people around the world, and that's not happening, as you see."

Lara said he was keen in getting involved in West Indies cricket, and added that the inclusion of "new heads" was necessary in sparking a turnaround in fortunes for the game in the region. "I think it's important that at some point in time I do get involved with West Indies cricket," Lara said. "I am willing and able, whenever it's necessary. Obviously, the present administration doesn't see it fit yet.

"Even if it did, I'd love to see a change. We've got a lot of the older heads who've been there for quite a long time, and things have not been working properly. We need some new heads, and some astute thinkers coming out and trying to get our cricket back together."

Among the new talents from the region, Lara singled out Adrian Barath for praise. "I think he is a special talent," he said. "To score a hundred on debut against Australia, the best team in the world, shows that he has something and hopefully he can carry and achieve bigger things in the future."

The World Twenty20 gets underway in the West Indies towards the end of April, but Lara believed, despite the home advantage, the hosts would struggle to go far on current form. "In reality, the way we've been playing ... I mean we just lost a Twenty20 against Zimbabwe," he said. "I don't think that will take us far in a World Cup against strong nations. We've got to do a lot of homework and we've got to get our game in order.

"Of course, we have the advantage of playing at home, knowing the conditions but a lot of players and countries have done so over the years. So I don't think they'll be intimidated by that fact. But I believe if we do play good cricket over that period of time, we are capable like any other country to win the World Cup and I'll be praying and hoping that we could do it."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by MB81 on (March 18, 2010, 9:10 GMT)

Windies now have a good team if there players are fit but now is the time to press on and Get a good academy started. For this current Windies team it's make or break for them if they do well this calender year they will continue but if not they might as well stay at home. If all there players are fit they now have a good team which will look something like this. 1. Barath 2.Gayle 3.Sarwan 4. Nash/Dowlin 5. Chanderpaul 6. Bravo 7. Ramdin 8. Taylor 9. Edwards 10. Roach 11. Benn

Posted by mgzak on (March 16, 2010, 19:11 GMT)

The funny thing is that a lot of people were saying that because of Lara WI were underperforming. Who are they going to blame now? Lara carried this team for 15 yrs!! Could you imagine how many more runs he would have scored if he had a Greenidge, Haybes, Lloyd or Richards in his team?

Posted by Cricket_observer_from_1982 on (March 15, 2010, 12:05 GMT)

Once Minadad asked Ganguly for India's sucess. Answer was there is a difference between match winner and good player. find match winners. Where is Jermine Lawson, the real fast bowler and match winner. Where is wavvel Hinds. Hinds would have been moulded like gayle. Where is Ricardo powe. If the weakness aginst spin was addrssed he would have been a great match winner. i think there is more politics than identifying talent. Imagne a bolwing line up of Lawson , Roach , Edwards and Taylor. It would have been like the attach in 80's

Posted by   on (March 12, 2010, 23:24 GMT)

yes i agree fully with lara, we really aren't going to beat any respectable teams in world cricket with our structure as it is in the caribbean. its not just time for a new administration, but a definite change in it's structure, as well as the thought school of the individuals being put at board level not only within the WICB but also the respective territorial boards. the WICB has been totally useless for many years now, they have shown their inability to bring west indian cricket to a high level, and it is time for our entire board structure to be over hauled and these guys in charge to be held accountable for the failure of west indies cricket.

Posted by kingstonsfinest on (March 12, 2010, 17:31 GMT)

Lara has now joined the many other former West Indian players who are frustrated at sitting doing nothing while our team stumbles further and further down the ICC rankings. But the problems in WEst Indies are not new they have been around for a long time and it is an indictment to the system in the caribbean that succesive wicb leaders have been unable to stop the slide. It is no mystery why we fail it is so simple we need to spend money on developing our young players!!! But it seems all these loosers at the WICB want to do is boost their egos and organise big launches for ridiculous tournaments that will do nothing to help WI cricket. I bet you ten years from this Chris Gayle will be saying the same thing that Lara has said and the cycle will just go on as West Indies continues to rest at the bottom of the cricket world.

Posted by DarkNite108 on (March 12, 2010, 8:36 GMT)

He's a legend and no one can argue with his comments. It's very sad to see a west indies team struggle with minnows.

Posted by diggyb on (March 12, 2010, 6:56 GMT)

I couldnt agree more with the 'Great One'. Rust have developed in the minds of the administrators of West Indies Cricket so unless they knock off the rust from their knuckle brains OR step aside and give younger, more vibrant and 'up to the time' person a chance to take West indies cricket to the next level then am afraid WI cricket will be stifled for years and years to come

Posted by rsgarcia on (March 11, 2010, 19:23 GMT)

Lara speaks the truth. How can we compete with the best when we have such poor facilities and treatment from the WICB at home? Money has been spent on free tickets for the best seats and white elephant stadiums that could have been spent on a joint project to build the Academy West Indies cricket so desperately needs. When we start recognizing the mantra of the Americans makes sense (when it comes to sport, you get what you pay for), that's when things will change for the better.

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