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Lara’s Return
Unravels Causes Behind Mysterious Test Retirement

Brian Lara

By Orin Davidson
Feb. 8th, 2008
Brian Lara’s unexpected return to first class cricket for Trinidad and Tobago this season has unraveled some of the mystery surrounding his shocking retirement from international competition last April.

But it also revealed a side of the great man that is often overlooked amidst his flurry of world records and frequent complaints of selfishness by some teammates.

Lara’s comeback proved that as much as he can be criticized for focusing on personal accomplishments, he is also a true patriot who has the improvement of West Indies deep down in his heart.

Following a sensational century- laced return in Trinidad and Tobago’s first Carib Cup game against Guyana at home this year, not unlike several similar feats at international level, Lara stunned a post match media conference by revealing he was not wanted in the West Indies squad by some teammates.

It was the one of the most startling revelations made by the triple world record holder publicly throughout his storied career. But inexplicably it was not followed up on by the reporters present, which unfortunately is par for the course with regional journalists.

At his farewell press conference to announce his sensational retirement from international competition during the World Cup, you would be amazed at the inane questions he was asked, even as rumors were circulating that the master batsman was being pushed out of the team by the WI selectors.

In Trinidad and Tobago it was a splendid opportunity by the journalists to let the world know which players had a problem with Lara in the team, and their probably reasons for so doing, had Lara been posed the expected follow-up questions at Queens Park Oval.

The triple world record holder could’ve been made to clear the air on his relationship with the Jamaican contingent in the team given the relentless stream of rumors over the years of deep discord between him and the players from the Land of Wood and Water.

The sordid accusation of him being deliberately run out by Marlon Samuels in his final innings for West Indies at Kensington Oval that preceded that media conference should’ve been enough ammunition to fuel the investigation fires within the West Indies media fraternity, whenever handed the chance to probe the batting genius.

Lara did reveal though that his return to the Trinidad and Tobago team was to boost its chances of winning the Carib Cup in the absence of key members Dwayne Bravo, Denish Ramdin and Darren Ganga being on tour with West Indies in South Africa.

At the same time he said he wanted to give back to the team by providing vital help to promising team members including Adrian Bharrat and Darren Bravo.

Even if he can be accused of selfishness, there is no question about Lara’s patriotism, for his country and West Indies cricket.

Like most diehard fans Lara said he awoke at 3.30 am to watch the Test matches in South Africa on television which is saying a lot for someone who has the highest individual and accumulative scores in Test competition, compared to many former West Indies stars who could not be bothered to track the team’s fortunes whether its night or day, these days.

Over the years Lara has endured the dislike of many West Indians influenced more by envy for his accomplishments more than anything else and proudly wore the maroon cap for close to 20 years, notwithstanding.

And you would hardly find a cricket mega star anywhere in the world returning to play in competitions as inauspicious as those run by the West Indies Cricket Board.

When the team made its post Lara retirement tour to England last summer, Lara took time off from his busy private schedule, to be at Lords, not because some media company needed his presence there to boost a lucrative business deal, rather to give team support despite his reservations about his likeability within the camp.

No West Indian player feels as much for West Indies cricket, by going to such lengths to figure out as ingenious a plan as Lara’s that entails fans around the world donating money individually to boost the WICB’s coffers for development.

At the time of his retirement it was easy to presume that the selectors did not want him back.

It was easy to feel that Lara’s stature and ego would’ve demanded nothing less than him continuing in the team as the captain, given that he had already made a concession by retiring from limited overs competition.

It was easy to concluded that the impatience of the West Indies selection panel would’ve been exhausted by the team’s continued failure through lack of leadership, and less of its limitations with bat and ball.

There is no question Lara had been accustomed to getting his way with West Indies cricket for most of his career, and it is a fact that after three stints as captain he had nothing much to show outside of a Champions Trophy title win.

And there is no disputing the reality that during his stellar, he had a history of making shocking decisions when things don’t go right.

He did attempt to walk off from his first tour of England before its conclusion after differences developed with him and captain Richie Richardson in 1994.

No one can deny the Trinidadian dramatically withdrew from the team, one year later for the annual Australia limited overs series after being disciplined by the West Indies Cricket Board for transgressions which had become a regular occurrence for him at the time.

And yes, he was at the forefront of an unprecedented protest action that almost derailed West Indies’ first tour of South Africa after the team refused to travel while en-route in London, in 1998.

But so far nothing suggests he can be accused of quitting the team last year in pique for reasons other than him feeling unwanted by teammates.

Apart from him explaining that he was unaware of any selectorial decision to drop him for the England tour, Lara proved that he is comfortable playing under players in the past even ones as character-less as Shiv Chanderpaul.

Even now he accepted playing for Trinidad and Tobago with a player as unsung as Ryad Emrit as captain.

And he once stopped short of saying he was begged to re-accept the West Indies captaincy for the third time after everyone else had failed.

For all his shortcomings as a captain and person, there is no disputing his fierce loyalty to Trinidad and West Indies cricket.

Not many hearts are as deeply embedded there as Lara as proved over the years.
Orin Davidson Column Homepage

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