It was only a matter of time
Eye On Sport
June 11, 2000
It was Brook Benton who sang "It's just a matter of time".
That expression rings true until now even though the American balladeer might have never heard of cricket during his glory days in the 1950's.
Brian Lara though made it the most appropriate happening for the West Indies team this weekend when he pummeled the Zimbabwe attack for a brilliant 176 yesterday in England.
It was after a string of failures by the double world record holder in the touring team's two county matches against Worcestershire and Glamorgan in the first two weeks of the Caribbean team's visit to the land which originated the game.
Lara's score at the time read like the first round tallies of a minor league golfer as his 1,1 0 13, set hearts thumping and tongues wagging about the wisdom of bringing back the Trinidadian into the team so early after his self imposed exile for the just concluded West Indies 2000 International series.
The verbal attacks were fired left right and centre as the non-Lara cricket followers and even those who should have known better, had a field day, although the player had not held a bat in competition for almost three months.
Lara was expected to bash hundreds immediately on his return to the entire team even though the English conditions at this time are as foreign to the entire as is pelau (a dish) to the Englishman.
Lara, though is human and not superman. The greatest of all batsmen Sir Gary Sobers did not score his first Test century until four years after his debut and Vivian Richards did not set the world on fire in his first Test match.
But Lara is a marked man because of his off the field behaviour and his roles outside of batting. He certainly is not my best captain and would not even rank above average. He has not been the best ambassador for the region either. And the manner of his departure from the captaincy along with his last minute withdrawal from the 2000 series here can be best described as distasteful. His initial unavailability for this England tour and his swift U-turn that caused awkward adjustments to the squad by the selectors, did little to win him favours.
Yet such indiscretions should not make him one of the most disliked players by some in Guyana and the region as a whole. His accomplishments alone as a batsman should make every conscious West Indian proud to be a supporter of the team.
Those two world records in two months in 1994 and his phenomenal batting against Australia last year under extreme pressure, which almost singlehandedly earned West Indies back-to- back Test wins against world champions Australia, are only some of his exploits unmatched since the days of Richards and Sobers.
His batting is explosively brilliant and a pleasurable treat to the viewer and listener. It has been a boost not only for West Indies batting but for the sport generally.
It is for that reason that his return for West Indies should open appetites for the pleasure he can be counted on to generate.
Although his innings yesterday was not against any of the English county bowlers who know best how to exploit the conditions they were born and bred in as was proved at Worcester and Cardiff, the Zimbabweans are not slouches. They are learning fast in England.
Most of the bowlers were part of the attack which bowled the team into a position that forced England to settle for a draw last week in the second Test, and spoiled hopes of a series clean sweep of victories.
They are a capable lot and it should be just a matter of time before the Englishmen suffer similar treatment in the Test series beginning next week Thursday at Edgbaston.
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