Captain's Concerns
Brian Lara wants wants some away wins
by Colin James in St John’s
Barbados Nation
October 23, 2003

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West Indies cricket captain Brian Lara said yesterday he was determined to end the regional side’s dismal record on overseas tours, especially against major cricketing nations.

Lara and the rest of a 16-man squad are engaged in a five-day camp in Antigua this week before they head off tomorrow for tours to Zimbabwe and South Africa.

This assignment comes after Australia beat the Windies in the Test and One-Day International home series before they rebounded to beat Sri Lanka 1-0 in a two-match Test series.

Lara said it was important that his side build on their encouraging performances against the Aussies and the Sri Lankans as they seek to avenge the humiliating 5-0 drubbing they suffered against the South African five years ago.

“We have to go down there and make sure we take command of Zimbabwe and then head to South Africa which is going to be a very tough tour. They are a good team. We know that they are playing at home and we are playing away.

“We have got to muster up everything collective to ensure we do well in South Africa.

“The guys understand . . . that we have been at the bottom for some time. They tasted success against Australia and Sri Lanka; the feeling of been successful; of creating history that they seem to want to cling onto.”

Lara said it would take a good allround team effort to defeat any side.

“One of the problems in the recent past was that we weren’t able to get 20 wickets in a Test match and it is something we will have to address. It is all well and good to score 500-600 runs but if you can’t get the opposition out you are not going to win any Test match. (In the past) we weren’t batting well at all and that combination is going to end in defeat,” he said.

The selectors have chosen six fast bowlers, including two (Jerome Taylor and Fidel Edwards) who have played three Test matches between themselves and one rookie (Ravi Rampaul) for the African tours.

But Lara said this was not a guarantee that the Windies would return to the formula of fielding four pacers as they did in their heyday of the late 1970s to the early 1990s.

“I’m not going to say that we are leaning towards four fast bowlers in a Test match but definitely we are going to give the guys who we think are possible West Indian stars that opportunity,” he said.

“West Indies have been known for four fast bowlers and we are going to exploit that. We have three fast bowlers who are 19, (Taylor and Rampaul) and 21 (Edwards). I think the opportunity is there for them to evolve into something great.

“It would be great to have a good spinner. A Shane Warne or (Muttiah) Muralitharan will be great. Unless that comes about you best stick with what you know.

“I thought that one of the finds of the recent series was Omari Banks, and you can’t say enough about this man. He is 20 years old coming into international cricket. Not much first-class experience and coming out there and performing. Maybe not with the ball as expected but he showed a lot of character with the bat culminating with a great effort in Antigua.

“I think the opportunity is there for anyone who really wants to represent West Indies cricket and anyone who shows that they have the character to do so . . . you are going to get the opportunity,” the captain said.

He said his Trinidadian compatriot Rampaul was selected based on the potential he had shown in the just-concluded Red Stripe Bowl One-Day competition.

“He has made a steady rise from Under-15 to present day. We see the potential in him. (chairman of selectors) Sir Vivian (Richards) watched him in the Red Stripe Bowl and he was very happy with the youngster. I’m almost sure there is room for him in the team. We are not going to look for immediate results from him.

“He is 19 years old and we have got to take our time with him. We have got to ensure that he learns the game and understand what’s going on. There is no better place than to learn than among the team.

“So we are quite happy to have him. I’m sure he is going to do himself justice in the future,” Lara said.