Zimbabwe will relish Lara's withdrawal
--Basil Butcher

by Orin Davidson
Stabroek News
March 4, 2000

Brian Lara's withdrawal from the West Indies has left Zimbabwe with an excellent chance of handing the Caribbean team another embarrassing series defeat, former West Indies batsman Basil Butcher feels.

"They are seeing an opportunity to hand us another dose of embarrassment, they must fancy their chances," the ex-player said referring to West Indies' unexpected two-nil Test and 5-nil limited overs defeats at the hands of New Zealand earlier this year.

Lara withdrew from the team citing the need to take a short break from the game to regroup his career after giving up the captaincy last week.

Reacting to the player's decision to opt out of the series, Butcher said it is not in the interest of the team, but pointed out that the double world batting record holder must have had a good reason for doing so.

"He has a case for making such a decision," Butcher said but pointed out that the team needs the commitment of everyone right now especially Lara, whose contribution is vital for success.

"In the past all West Indies players understood the importance of being committed at all times," added the former righthander.

"I am disappointed because our batting has been our greatest weakness and has been the main cause of the poor performances and Lara is vital to the batting doing well."

Following the Zimbabwe series of two Tests, West Indies will play Pakistan for an additional three then all three sides will engage in a three-way limited overs competition.

The ex-player took a swipe at the West Indies Cricket Board for arranging the camp to prepare the players for the upcoming series only after the team lost to New Zealand. "They seem to have no plan at all for the development of West Indies cricket, they stumble from blunder to another", he said, adding that "There should always be camps for players, this should be an ongoing process throughout the year."

The Berbice-born Butcher also attacked the WICB for what he viewed as an end to Sir Vivian Richards' stint as coach of the team. "As they say no where in the world you would find a country doing away with the services of a man with over 121 Tests and 8000 runs and 15 years of (English) county cricket experience. His experience and achievements alone should give him a doctorate in all aspects of cricket. Mind you I am not saying that the certificates don't count but I always believe that a coach should be a man who has been through the mill and has proof that he is good," Butcher explained. The former middle order batsman said Richards should have been given the three-year contract and make Roger Harper, who was chosen ahead of Richards, his deputy.

In a statement released on Thursday night, Lara said his decision to withdraw was made after several discussions with psychologist Dr Rudi Webster and further discussions with West Indies Cricket Board president Pat Rousseau. "I have come to the conclusion that it is essential for personal reasons that I take a break from my cricket for a short period with immediate effect," the former captain said, adding, "During this period I intend with the assistance of the appropriate professionals to rebuild all facets of my game so as to sustain the remainder of my cricketing career. I regret any disappointment that my decision will cause West Indies cricket fans but ask for your patience. I would also like to thank the West Indies Cricket Board for their support at this difficult time".

Adams new captain
WICB appoints left hander for Zimbabwe/Pakistan series

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CANA - Jamaica's left-handed batsman Jimmy Adams has been named captain of the West Indies cricket team for the 2000 Cable and Wireless home Test and One-Day International series against Zimbabwe and Pakistan.

Adams, 32, who recently captained Jamaica to this year's Busta Cup championship, replaces Brian Lara who announced late Thursday he was taking a break from international cricket after earlier giving up the captaincy of the regional team.

Adams previously served as vice-captain of the West Indies team for the 1999 home series against Australia as well as last year's World Cup in England and the 1999-2000 tour of New Zealand.

The versatile Adams, who is a useful left-arm orthodox spin bowler and capable wicket-keeper, started his international career in 1992 in the one-off Test against South Africa at Kensington Oval in Barbados.

Prior to his Test debut, Adams, who made his first-class debut as a 17-year-old teenager against Barbados in 1985, represented the West Indies youth team in the 1988 Youth World Cup in Australia.

The experienced Adams, who has played 48 Tests and 104 One-Day Internationals, led the West Indies in the last three matches of the seven-match limited-overs series against Australia in the Caribbean last year when Lara was sidelined with a wrist injury.

Adams has recorded five centuries in a total of 2,326 Test runs at a commendable average of 45.60. His highest score is an unbeaten 208 against New Zealand at the Antigua Recreation Ground in 1996.

As an occasional spin bowler, Adams has captured 19 wickets at 44.47 apiece with a best haul of five for 17 in the 1996 home series against New Zealand when he was named man-of-the-series.

He has scored 1,797 runs in limited-overs cricket at an average of 30.45 with a highest score of 82 and taken 32 wickets at an average of 35.87 and an economy rate of 4.89 runs per over.

In addition, Adams had held 62 catches and effected five stumpings in the abbreviated game. In its release yesterday, the WICB congratulated Adams on his elevation to the captaincy and wished him all the best in the upcoming series.

West Indies oppose Zimbabwe in the first of two Tests at the Queen's Park Oval in Trinidad and Tobago, March 16-20.