Lara hints at extra fast bowler
Listening to Brian Lara during this series, one's left wondering if he is indeed the captain playing at home. He's not got the pitches he's wanted, and more, worryingly, he's not got the team he wanted. At the end of the drawn encounter at St Kitts, Lara didn't comment too much on the pitch but dropped many hints about wanting the extra fast bowler.
"My only concern is the combination for the final Test," he said while analysing his team's performance. "We played an extra batsman here but if you want to get 20 wickets, we need to put players there to get us those wickets. It's left upto the selectors, let's see what happens ... Guys who've been here have done a tremendous job throughout this series, performing on surfaces that really haven't helped them. Two days rest between Tests and to go back to the reserves and pick fast bowlers would be showing a weakness. Very confident with the likes of Corey Collymore, [Pedro] Collins, [Jerome] Taylor - coming into his own - and Bradshaw has been good. Maybe an addition would be a good choice and we will have the final decision a day before the match."
Lara's problem was reflected in his decision to not enforce the follow-on. Collins had hobbled off with a cramp while the rest appeared a bit bushwhacked after running in hard in torrid conditions. "My team relies on fast bowlers, they run 25 yards and need that kind of rest. If I had [Anil] Kumble and Harbhajan [Singh] who are running in from 3-4 steps it's easy to tell them to come back out and bowl again. It's a choice that you have to make. I'm quite happy to put myself back to bat, setting a total that is beyond them so that we can attack them."
Considering all factors, is he happy with the scoreline? "No. Simply because of the fact that we're playing at home. The last time India were here, we won the series. Our one-day performance shows that we are a better playing team than the Indians. Having said that, at the end of the day - I'm quite happy the way it's gone. Both sides have fought really, really hard. There's been some intriguing cricket, unfortunately the scoreline doesn't show it. It will be a huge disappointment if all four Tests end in draw. We hope to get some good cricket in the final Test. If you spend a month-and-a-half playing Test cricket, you'd like to see a result."
A drawn series, after four Tests, would no doubt be an unfortunate result but Lara spoke about how West Indies needed to use this as a launching pad for success. If you exclude games against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, West Indies' last series win came way back in July 2003. "The guys are coming of age - people like Chris Gayle, [Ramnaresh] Sarwan, [Daren] Ganga, and Shivnarine Chanderpaul. The only problem is probably myself. We're playing at home but it's a step forward. We've been beaten badly of late, and it's happened in quick time. It's good that we're being able to fight it out to the opposition - putting ourselves in winning positions, getting out of losing positions and maybe the next step is to win Test matches. I'm seeing some sort of credibility in the way the guys have performed. We're making strides moving forward. It's going to take some time but the players are now proving their worth."
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of Cricinfo