'It's painful what has gone on' - Lara
After weeks of innuendo and hinting, Brian Lara finally let several cats out of several bags. In what was a startling revelation, he said that he wasn't aware of the fact that he was one of the selectors - a post he was assigned even before the start of the Test series - and even said he would "revisit" his decision to captain the team in the next few weeks. Lara was also critical of the pitch prepared for the final Test at Sabina Park, saying that he didn't think it was "worthy enough".
Lara revealed that he'd received a letter on the eve of this game, from the West Indies Cricket Board, stating that he had been appointed as one of the selectors on May 28, the date when the final one-day game was played. "I found out that I was a selector from May 28th only a day before the Test match [at Kingston]," he said. "I had seven batsmen for the first couple of matches, I played six, and then I was given eight for the last two Test matches. I don't know how you work that out. That was a problem by itself. It's unfortunate that I have been a selector since the series started. In St. Lucia, I said on hindsight a spinner should have played. Yet two days later he was dropped from the entire 14.
"It's painful what has gone on for the last couple of months. Not just the Test matches but the one-day games. Really and truly, I have West Indies cricket at heart. But it is a situation where my reputation as a captain is dragged down. Losing the series to the Indians in over 30 years. But the natural fact is that I was never given the team I wanted. I feel let down. I must tell you there is a meeting coming up in a couple of weeks, depending on the selectors, I would definitely revisit my decision to captain the West Indies team. It didn't effect my mood for the Test match. But definitely these little inefficiencies are not becoming of a team, or board, or association which wants to move forward."
But had Lara always faced these difficulties as captain or was it something peculiar to this stint? "I always had my fights," he continued. "But on those occasions, I was in the selection room and knew how to manoeuvre and manipulate the things the way I wanted. I have been successful. But now, standing and getting to know that Dave Mohammed is not coming and this is the squad, it was a situation where my hands were tied behind my back."
That was only one of Lara's "peripheral" problems. The other was relating to the pitch and he even hinted at some skullduggery. "It was not worthy for such an important Test match," he said of the pitch at Sabina Park. "It reminds me of listening to West Indies 20 years ago, where we used to destroy Australia but when we go to Sydney we lost. It seems that this one was prepared for the Indians. It wasn't the pitch both the teams wanted after two months of hard cricket.
"I am proud of the guys that we are not 3-0 down. As soon as India made 500 runs, it was a dustbowl in St. Lucia. If Harbhajan Singh had played in that Test, we would have been down and out. You look at the tapes of the match and you see the pitch dusting. Here from the very first day, I knew it was difficult to win a match if you lose the toss. That team that was batting last, it was very, very difficult. Of course our batting was inept in the first innings but I was surprised [by this pitch]. You look at Dravid, he batted for so many hours and then he got an unplayable ball ... I think we played very good cricket and there is something we can take out of this series moving forward. As I said, these conditions favoured the opposition. I mean you look at that track where a spinner takes five wickets on the second morning of the match, turning the ball square. Ganga playing to a ball pitched two feet outside the offstump and falling leg before wicket."
Despite these problems Lara was "proud" of his players and picked out a few who had taken up leadership roles. "There have been people like Sarwan, Chanderpaul - who is still fighting after getting rid of the captaincy - Gayle - who has got three failures after I praised him [smiles] but I still feel he has got what it takes. I think if we had got a couple of different faces, the series would have gone in different direction ... Guys have raised their game, they seem to realise that they have to play the leadership part. Corey Collymore is outstanding, Gayle is sort of an introvert but you can see he is making a major contribution and wants to see the team do well. I was apprehensive about Chanderpaul resigning as captain and coming back but his support has been tremendous."
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of Cricinfo