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Lara says he won’t have accepted the job to captain the West Indies again if he didn’t believe the regional team was capable of defeating Australia in the upcoming Test series bowling off at the Georgetown Cricket Club, Bourda, on April 10.
“We are starting in Guyana, 11 guys versus guys. They might be considered the best in the world on paper but the main thing is we’ve got cricketers,” Lara told reporters, just hours after he was named to replace Carl Hooper as captain.
“We’ve got guys who can win matches for us and we are going to look forward to doing that,” added Lara, who was also at the helm when Australia last toured the Caribbean in 1999 and drew the Test series 2-2.
The 33-year-old Lara said his main task now is moulding the West Indies into a competitive outfit.
“Winning is important but most importantly for us as West Indian people and I know a lot of people have questioned our commitment and how competitive we’ve been over the years, I want to see a West Indies team that is going to compete with Australia,” Lara noted.
“The tracks in the Caribbean are results tracks and if we compete as we saw three, four years ago, we can turn situations into our favour,” contended Lara.
Lara recalled that when Australia last toured in 1999, they were in control of the Jamaica and Barbados Test matches “at some point in time” but the West Indies “competed and we came back and won those Test matches.”
“So, I am just going to try to ask the guys, we need to compete. We need to ensure we play each session day after day to the best of our ability and things can work out for us,” Lara opined.
Lara, who hit a brilliant 213 at Sabina Park, followed by an unbeaten match-winning 153 at Kensington Oval and a boundary-studded even hundred in Antigua against the Aussies on the 1999 tour, said he is keen to record a few more centuries.
“Let’s wait and see. I think I would love to do that personally but I would love to see a lot of the other guys do that (score centuries against Glenn McGrath).
“My main concern now is to see if I can get in my head the right ideas for West Indies cricket and for the West Indies team,” Lara said.
The world record holder for the highest Test (375) and first-class (501 not out) scores said he is not concerned about the pitches in the Caribbean, which are no longer as bouncy and pacy as in the past.
“I am not concerned. I think that will be one of the Australians’ concerns because we are accustomed playing here and that is to our advantage,” Lara remarked.
“We know about Guyana, Trinidad, Barbados, Antigua. We know what the pitches play like. We know if they are bare of grass, what happens (and) they deteriorate much faster than others.
“We know if they put a bit of life into it and a bit of water, what it is going to do, so it is the least of my concern,” Lara said.
“My concern presently is to ensure that we’ve got the right group of guys playing cricket, thinking the right way and ensuring that we are moving forward in one direction. That’s my major concern,” Lara declared.
Lara, who met the West Indies’ selection panel yesterday, said he is not going to be getting into naming teams and calling out individuals for selection on the West Indies team.
“I’ve only been back for a couple first-class matches and I’ve got to sit down and trust the selectors. They have been here … they have been watching all the first-class cricket,” Lara noted.