Brian Lara on Viv Richards: 'To consider disrespecting him is unthinkable'
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Brian Lara has denied reports that he overruled Viv Richards, West Indies' chief selector, by changing his team moments before the toss at the start of the fourth Test at Centurion. In his column for the Trinidad Guardian, Lara said that he had great respect for Richards and that to "consider disrespecting him is unthinkable".
Neil Manthorp, writing for Wisden Cricinfo, said that Lara reinstated the fast bowler Mervyn Dillon to the starting XI even though Richards had insisted on his omission. "Lara asked him [Graeme Smith] whether he was carrying a pen," wrote Manthorp. "A perplexed Smith looked in his pocket, found a pen and offered it to Lara. Odd became odder when Lara asked Smith to make the change himself, holding the teamsheet and requesting that Smith put a line through Adam Sanford's name and write 'Dillon' in its place. A dazed Smith duly did as he was told."
Lara insisted that the decision to play Dillon rather than Sanford came about because of the state of the pitch. "After looking at the pitch, I noticed that there were visible cracks and moisture, which would have worked in Dillon's favour, because of his height," wrote Lara. "Sir Viv was not there and he had to be contacted. When I reached him, he agreed and, as you know, Dillon was selected."
Lara added that the article was penned by a foreign journalist (Manthorp is a leading South African cricket writer), although Tony Cozier, writing on the series for various Caribbean-based newspapers, reported that Manthorp's version of events had supporters. He wrote: "Individuals who were in the middle when the toss was made have confirmed the report that Lara did belatedly alter the team-sheet."
Ricky Skerritt, the West Indian team manager, refused to confirm or deny the matter. "I am out of the loop as far as team selection is concerned," he said. "You would have to ask Brian or Sir Viv."