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BRIAN CHARLES LARA PAGE
Come on Brian, Knock Dem Down!
Let Australia feel the heat!!!
Brian Charles Lara
(West Indies, Trinidad & Tobago, Warwickshire, Queen's Park Cricket Club)
born May 2nd 1969, Trinidad and Tobago
Brian Lara's comments prior to
the South Africa Tour
(from Red Stripe Cricket Quarterly : "It's A Battle Of Batting" by Tony Cozier)
"I expect a series full of results . . . and I think the better batting team will win the series"
"I've seen a lot of South Africa during the summer against England and they are a team that's beatable . . .Australia has been to South Africa and beat them and . . . I hope the aim of our every individual is to come out on top, not only individually, but as a team."
"The South African new ball pair of Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock have shown they are world-class but if the West Indies batting can stand up to such an attack and the West Indies bowlers can have a good time in South Africa, we can win the series."
"Our batting, I must say, leaves a lot to be desired. There are some players who seem to be around for a very long time and (are) not pulling their weight."
Brian Lara's Test Statistics
(at the end of the Fifth Test in the W.I. Tour of South Africa 98/99)
Batting Tests Innings Not Out Runs Highest Average 100s 50s Catches 59 101 3 4860 375 49.59 10 26 77 Bowling Overs Runs Wickets Average Best 5WI 10WI BPW Econ. 10 28 - - - - - - 2.8
"Brian Lara plays his life like he plays his cricket, and in both areas he's usually on top of things. In April, the 25-year old Trinidad and Tobago and West Indies batsman scored 375 runs in the fourth Test against England in Antigua, breaking Sir Gary Sobers's 36-year-old record for the most runs scored in a single innings in Test cricket. Less that two months later, in June, just as ecstatic media people were coming down to earth and starting to think of him as a superhero, he scored 501 runs for his English county side Warwickshire, the most runs ever scored in a single innings in the history of first class cricket, and propelled himself back into the realms of the supernatural.
For three months Brian Lara remained the darling of the English media. he could do nothing wrong. Even when he answered his mobile phone on the playing field during one of the first matches he played for Warwickshire, reporters were not angry but delighted, and penned gushing stories about his innocence. Twice he was the subject of glowing editorials in no less a journal than the Guardian, probably the best broadsheet paper in Britain.
When he returned to Trinidad for five days in June, two British TV crew and every national paper in England covered his holiday as news. Brian Lara was the only story in the United Kingdom and everybody wanted it. His sheer talent, his natural exuberance and his ability to shatter records at a glance made him good news for everyone.
And then something happened. Soon after the 501, he stopped making centuries, almost stopped making runs, everytime he went out to bat. Scores of 12 and 13 and 6 and 0 began appearing after his name. The exhaustion he had been fighting off since the day he made the 375 began to take hold and Brian Lara became statistically less staggering and visibly less keen.
One day, he was two hours late for a match because he chose to drop his Trinidadian girlfriend to London's Heathrow airport; another day it took the Warwickshire captain's personal entreaties to help him to summon up the willpower to overcome a knee injury and go out and bat. Rumours of dissension in the Warwickshire dressing room began to circulate; the enthusiasm of the British media cooled. For some cricket writers, the hero became a target. The Prince of Port of Spain began to be cast as the Prima Donna of Port of Spain, the man who thought he was too important to do anything except bat.
His business deals, which newspapers had been celebrating on his behalf, began to incur resentment. When he complained of not being able to attend to personal problems because he was "always in the middle" he found little sympathy.
But Lara himself did not change. He remained the same as he ever was: a modest, well-mannered young man from a good Catholic West Indian family, doing his best to have as ordinary and fulfilling a life as one can when one happens to be the world's best batsman. At every press conference after each spectacular innings Lara did his best to deny the greatness everyone else sought to thrust upon him. "One score cannot make you a great player," he said time and again, "and there will be times when I will not make runs." But of course no one believed that. How could Brian Lara not make runs?
"It's been too much," Lara admits. "It was overwhelming. You just wonder, in two years' time, will they still want to talk to you? A lot of important people are going to come and want to be your friend, but they weren't interested in you in years gone by. It's been very tough in the last few months."
After he broke Sobers' record in April, Lara came under unimaginable pressure. Everyone who knew anything about cricket and many who didn't, wanted to meet him personally. To say he was mobbed after the 375 is an understatement, like saying the Beatles were quite popular in the US in the sixties. By rights, Lara should be clinically exhausted just from shaking hands and signing autographs.
It's not that Lara tires easily. All his sporting life, Lara has amazed even his closest friends and playing companions by his ability to party all night and score first-class centuries the morning after. Michael Carew, Lara's fellow Trinidad and Tobago opening batsman (and a man Lara regards as his brother) recalls that one of Lara's most important big scores - the 180 for Trinidad and Tobago that won a Red Stripe Caribbean Cup against Jamaica at Sabina Park -- came after a night of partying (though not drinking) until 4am. The same thing happened before he made 148 against Barbados.
Such stories are not exaggerated: the night before the game in which he made his 501 at Edgbaston began, Lara was awake until after 2am being interviewed for this story . . . "
" . . . After April 18, Lara's personal D-Day, the day when he became a superstar and a piece of public property, his schedule became impossible. Business deals demanded his presence in Trinidad and Tobago and England. The strain of full time cricket as an English county player was new to him: he simple did not realise what it would be like to play all day, every week, week in, week out. If Lara had not signed for Warwickshire, 1994 would have been like the last few years, and he would have had several months' rest from competitive cricket.
The greatest pressure has been the demands made on him by other people, notably journalists and favour-seekers. Whether he is in Trinidad or England, all Lara's telephones (phone companies have given him free mobile phones in both countries) ring nearly all the time. It is generally someone who wants him to do something or go somewhere, often for charity, usually for free, often refusing to takes no for an answer.
It is a lot to get used to in a short time, and Lara has had very little space or time to himself to deal with the new, accelerated aspects of his life. People in normal jobs can take their phones off the hook or stay away from the office. But a cricketer has to stand in the middle of a cricket ground, under the attack of bowlers and the scrutiny of the world, and try to sort everything out . . . "
" . . . Brian Lara's personal foundations are laid firmly in family. Bunty Lara (his father, who died in 1988) devoted the last years of his life to his youngest son. he used to carry Brian around like a toy, recalls Joey Carew, the former Trinidad and Tobago and West Indies batsman, and a man Lara thinks of as a second father.
Because it was convenient for cricket, Lara lived at the Carew family home in the Woodbrook suburb of Port of Spain from the time he was 14 until very recently, and he is still very much at home there......In a sense, Brian Lara comes from two good Catholic Trinidadian families not just one. If he is not at the Hilton, Lara still crashes out in Michael Carew's bedroom in Woodbrook while he is in Trinidad. (This is a single bed and a spare mattress. Whoever gets in from his night out first gets the bed; Brian invariably sleeps on the floor.)
But the first thing Lara does on returning to Trinidad is drop his suitcase off in Woodbrook and go to Santa Cruz to visit his mother. Pearl Lara crops up unprovoked in her son's conversation over and over again, whether in reference to his religious belief or in a discussion about respect for one's elders. His home is in Santa Cruz, in the hills north of Port-of-Spain, where he grew up with his 10 brothers and sisters.
Joey Carew's influence on Lara's career has been great. It was Carew who organises his first important professional association, a job with Angostura, the Trinidad company that makes the world famous Angostura bitters. Seven years ago, in the bar of the Queen's Park Oval, Clive Cook, the Angostura CEO, told Carew that his company wanted to hire Lara, or at least pay him a salary. Cook's attention from the start was to give Lara the financial security that would enable him to concentrate on becoming a professional cricketer. Carew persuaded Lara to remain in Trinidad, with Angostura, rather than go to England to play league cricket.
Lara was hired to work in the marketing department with the vague notion that he would 'do something' for Angostura. For a while he made desultory excursions with salesmen; one manager went so far as to say Angostura was wasting its money backing Lara because he was just a gofer. And then Lara approached Cook and suggested that he might be better used doing promotions; so began the public appearances and the school tours for which Lara is well-known in Trinidad.
Clive Cook, like most people who have worked with him, is a keen Brian Lara fan. It does not take long to build up reserves of loyalty with people he meets. His Trinidad agent, Sandra Welch-Farrell, and his English agents Jonathan Barnett and David Manasseh, think the world of him and would go to great lengths to protect his interests. at Angostura there is a cashier named Sandra Awai who, long before he was the success he is today, covered her workspace from wall to wall with his posters. Lara always stops to chat with her whenever he visits the Angostura offices; when he was shown the list of Angostura employees Cook thought should be invited to official state function celebrating the 375, Lara noticed Awai's name was not on the list and immediately picked up a pen and wrote it in himself . . . "
(LARA ON JOURNALISTS) : Asked whether he considers them a necessary evil, he replies: "No, an unnecessary evil".
". . . Brian Lara's good manners often get him into trouble. The morning after the series of interviews for this story was finished, for example, he insisted on driving me to the railway station, although it made him late for the start of play. he would not hear of me taking a taxi after I'd been a guest in his home for three days.
How could someone with that outlook allow his girlfriend to go the airport unescorted? The day he dropped his girlfriend to the airport and was late for cricket he got into trouble. The day he dropped me to the station and was late, nothing happened. Of course, he did make 501 runs later in the day, which may have deflected criticism.
Off duty, Brian can be lively, playful and entertaining. He's a Carnival addict: "I love Carnival. It's the best time you could ever have, it's the most relaxing thing I have ever experienced. It's free from everything." He has an amazing repertoire of jokes, for example, and can keep a dinner table laughing for an entire meal.
He loves going out to dinner, particularly to Chinese and Italian restaurants; after the cricket ground (and possibly night-clubs), restaurants are the places he relaxes most. The night before he scored his first Test century -- the 277 against Australia that turned the series for the West Indies, and the innings that he himself rates as his best -- he went out to dinner with Desmond Haynes to a Chinese restaurant and, over Desi's anguished protestations, ordered duck.
Many people will tell you confidently that Lara thinks he is the best batsman that ever lived and has always thought so. But Lara himself will insist that it is too early in his career to talk of being great. he does have a good opinion of himself (if you held the two most important batting records of all time, wouldn't you?) but he also has a good head on his shoulders and a solid steady foothold. he knows what he is doing, even if media people aren't sure.
"I might not be as marketable as I am now two months from now," he says. "I'm trying to get a foundation laid where everything will move smoothly from now on. It's been very hectic but it will cool down and I will be able to have time for myself."
You can't help but like Brian Lara. He's a man who learns from mistakes, and can deal with setbacks. He is cautious with new people and new experiences, treating them in much the same way as he would a new ball in a game of cricket: he knows very well that it takes only one ball to get you out and that a new ball is dangerous. So he plays it carefully. When he is satisfied that he has taken the shine off it, he starts to place the ball pretty much where he wants, when he wants, scoring boundaries at will.
The only real question to be answered is how high and how far he can go. Only he can answer that. His prodigious talent will not go away, and he won't undergo a personality change because of his successes and failures. After the 1994 dust has settled, the original Lara will still be there, playing cricket as best he can. He may or may not regain his status as Most Favoured Batsman with the British press, which is searching for a new monarchy to make up for the disappointments of Charles, Diana, Fergie and company, but it is unlikely to bother him either way in the long run.
In August, Brian Lara was named vice-captain of the West Indies team for its tour of India. He is a professional, and his innings has just begun."
LARA & THE WINDIES FACE TROUBLED FUTURE
(An Analysis By Trevor Chesterfield in Centurion, South Africa, courtesy CricInfo, 20/01/99)
Amid the euphoria over South Africa's 5-0 whitewash of the West Indies on Monday, a more sobering thought emerged that perhaps we are witnessing the disintegration of the game in the Caribbean as we know it.
As their captain, Brian Lara, faced the media on his own at SuperSport Centurion, just as he had done in Port Elizabeth after a crisis team meeting and promised, as a result of those indepth discussions, a better all-round team effort, serious questions were being asked of him and the immediate Windies future.
Even their respected veteran journalist, Tony Cozier, privately posed a thought at the start of the fourth day of this final Test win by late afternoon by 351 runs, whether there was a future for the team known as West Indies, which with the University of the West Indies, is about the only unifying force in the former British colonies of the Caribbean. Whichis ironic as the International Cricket Council globalisation policy gathers strength and John Shepherd their agent in the area oversees dramatic and
impressive growth in regions as far flung as Argentine, Peru, the Belize, the Bahamas, central America and some southern states in the USA.
Lara, his captaincy abilities now being questioned and under pressure, tried to explain some of the problems as he saw it on Monday after the second crushing defeat within four days in a series which promised much but delivered little. The great fast bowling pair of Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh were on crutches by the end of a gruelling seven weeks programme, the batting broke down more often than a R5 watch and a top-order never came to grips with Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock or Jacques Kallis.
And in the end Lara had to admit the side was "not as one" as tremors of discontent rumbled in the aftermath of the strike which held up the start of the tour. Even the tour song. "Rally around the Windies" with its catchy syncopated rhythm was as off key as was the batting flair so often talked
about was missing.
Even Lara, seen as the catalyst which has sewn much dissent among the rank and file senior players admitted much soul-searching is needed to rekindle the natural gifts long noted in the West Indies style of game.
As Reg Scarlett, a former Test player now running an academy in Port of Spain, Trinidad, says it is the unifying factor which makes cricket the most popular sport in the Caribbean. While athletics, soccer and to a lesser extent basketball have a local identity which appeals to each island, they do not have mass approval of cricket.
Perhaps, as Lara feels, it is time to rebuild from under-15 upwards, as he has seen in South Africa with a vibrant, flourishing programme.
Trinidadians, Guyanese, Bajans, Jamaicans and Antiguans kept each other company during the tour of South Africa. During weeks of travel and hardship through a series of disappointments they became friends and waved their flags and wept, openly and bitterly on Monday at the demise of their team.
Yet in the English Caribbean, as in England, Australia and New Zealand government-run schools no longer play the game. The clubs have to do the job; academies and island junior squad systems regenerate players into a game which collapsed because of a lack of long-term planning when the West
Indies ran rampant and crushed other countries with a similar clinical professional pride South Africa has imposed on them this summer.
There is also a question of money. The Caribbean is not a wealthy place and since the break up of the federation in the 1960s, small nations have limped along, reliant on hand outs from a variety of benefactors with large business interests.
Sir Garfield Sobers, a West Indian patriot as well as one of the world's great players, has long lamented the disintegration of the federation and for what it stood: regional commerce and industrial strength suffered because of parochial pride. Barbados was the centre-point and poltical jealousy and paranoia soured relationships.
Lara tried looked beyond first whitewash in West Indies history and probe other reasons for the defeat. South Africa had any number of players who were on the fringes but were not selected for the series. Now several of them had been brought into the limited-overs side. And he, himself, along with others had not performed as well as they should have during the series.
"West Indies cricket has been in decline for a few years now and this is the end result of it," he said. "We are going to have to go back, look at it and see how we can improve our young players so we can develop a group of more competitive players at international level.
"We now have to put this series behind us. In the last 18 months to two years we have lost two-nil, three-nil and now five-nil. Now we have to concentrate on finding a group of players who are going to be
competitive against the Australians.
"When we go back (after the one-day series) we will have to look at the players we have and their form and commitment. The management (Clive Lloyd and coach Malcolm Marshall) tried their best to work with the guys, but in the end you have to go out and back yourself as an individual," he agreed.
"You can get all the advice you want off the field, but as individuals we have lacked confidence on this tour and it showed in our performances."
What he did not say yet has been pointed out often is that the side selected for the tour of South Africa was universally approved in the Caribbean as the best available, but criticisms of the side since the series started showed there was a serious miscalculation of the strength of the South African team, based as it was on the results of their tour of England. "
LARA LIKES HIS
(by Andre E. Baptiste, Weekend Independent, June 6, 1998, p. 32)
Despite the 2,000 pound fine imposed on West Indies captain for late arrival for a match on Sunday (31 May), Warwickshire Chief Executive Dennis Amiss is convinced that Lara can still do the job.
"But he is probably trying too hard . . . trying too hard to look after the teams interest and not thinking of personal achievements," Amiss told the Independent.
"Of course, what we want now is for Brian to score some big hundreds, to lift the team . . . the season is only about a quarter through and we need to make a charge now," added Amiss.
"Brian is more of a team man now, and it would be wrong to compare his performances in 1994 to now. We are still very encouraged that he can score the runs his ability suggests he should be scoring."
Amiss said he does not believe the burden of captaincy is affecting Laras batting. "Brian is a very talented captain, he likes to do things his own way, and, of course, it is different to how some are accustomed. But now it seems everyone is understanding one another," noted Amiss.
Questioned on reports that any further indiscretion by Lara could lead to the player being sacked as captain, Amiss told the Independent, "Brian has assured us, that there would be no such occurrences again in the future, so we are thinking positively. Of course, if something happens, we would have to decide then and only then what to do."
Questioned on any further permission for Lara to leave the team, Amiss replied, "We would hope that this would not arise again, as there are very important matches in front of us. But we cannot say that we will decline a request from Brian to leave, because it may be an urgent family matter. But we see a lot of cricket ahead for Brian."
Amiss said that they were all disappointed by last weekends incident, and the club has taken the necessary action . . . "that matter is now in the past and we are looking forward to a final part of the season that is very good for Brian Lara and Warwickshire."
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