Could Lara lead West Indies to a third World Cup title?
By Rawle Welch
March 8, 2007
Could the enigmatic and often labeled controversial figure of Brian Lara lead the West Indies team to a third Cricket World Cup title?
Despite, being seeded at No.8 in the ICC's ten full members' rankings West Indies recent one-day performances have given ample evidence that they can beat the most fearsome opposition on their day.
Add to that the advantage of playing at home in conditions that are familiar and with the support of a number of former great West Indian players, who have all lent their expertise in one way or another over the past year, most feel the time is ripe for us to regain the lofty status we (West Indies) once held in the cricket arena during the 80's and early 90's.
Lara, who is enjoying his third stint as captain, early last week, said that “the West Indies are a very good team at home with an excellent record and they are looking forward to the major event.”
According to the skipper, they have a very good chance of breaking the jinx where the host team has never won the competition. He stated that most of the players are fit and they have all the ingredients to go all the way.
The West Indies, who open up against Pakistan in a tough Group D encounter on March 13 at Sabina Park in Jamaica , is expected to at least make it to the Super Eight stage, before their chances of lifting the championship trophy after 28 years become severely tested as the quality of the opposition improves.
The hosts, unlike most of the other top quality teams are almost injury free heading into the tournament and their 15-man squad has remained consistent except for new ‘wunderkind' Trinidadian Keiron Pollard, who most knew would have been selected after a terrific regional season.
Lara, who has attained so much in the sport, would want to lead his team to the title, one of the few achievements that have eluded him so far. At the mature age of thirty-eight, Lara knows that his days as a player are quickly grinding to a halt and this may be his last chance to accomplish a life-long dream of winning the World Cup. He also declared last week that after winning the first two Cups, the West Indies have their best chance yet to add another.
The West Indies captain has had a reasonably long stretch with most of the players on this present squad, barring a few and most expect them to play as a unit and be very competitive even going all the way, especially since one of the greatest batsman of all time may very pull the curtains down on an illustrious career at the tournament's conclusion.
If no other player has the capacity to bear such burden, Lara has shown time and again in many memorable performances that he a courageous fighter who leads from the front and not one to shirk from his responsibilities.
Still, one of the game's premier batsmen, the WI skipper knows that even though the side possesses players who've had over sixty one-day internationals under their belts, his contribution with the bat is pivotal to their chances of winning.
Just returning from a knee injury that forced him out of the recently-concluded regional competitions, opposition bowlers fully understand that that is no advantage for them as he has proven time and time again.
He is in a class of his own and one good innings is all it takes for this batting machine to get into groove and stamp his authority on the world stage.
His sheer class has destroyed many bowlers career and with the World Cup in his own backyard, this grandmaster of batsmen has the ability and acute awareness to seize centre stage and create a crescendo of support that can galvanize his teammates.
His captaincy, even though controversial at times has improved immensely and this feature has boosted the confidence of team members, hence the string of positive results over the past year.
Lara is much more calculated than a few years ago, he sincerely wants to revitalize this team and West Indies cricket and this burning desire can paint an ominous picture for sides standing in his way.
With the presence of two-time winner and former captain Clive Lloyd serving in the capacity of team manager, Lara was high in praise of the contributions he has made to the side, adding that it is definitely a great advantage.
Beware! West Indies could be formidable opponents at home.