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Lara: Hands tied. Foot in mouth!
by Gulu Ezekiel
Jul 07, 2006
Brian Lara’s bitter outburst at the presentation ceremony at the end of the fourth Test at Sabina Park was both poorly timed and in bad taste.

It also smacked of sour grapes and a spoiled brat attitude, something of which I had earlier accused him of after his shenanigans in the first Test match in which he pressured both the umpires and Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

While the Caribbean media and cricket community was split on its support to Lara in that particular case—how the ICC let him off the hook still rankles—this time around they have been unequivocal in their condemnation of their captain.

Ever since he burst onto the international scene with a bang in 1994, Lara’s life has spiraled downward into one series of confrontations after another, both on and off the cricket field, even as his form has sometimes hit sublime heights.

Twelve years ago Lara stunned the sporting world as he first set the world Test match record (375; since broken by himself) and then the first-class record (an unprecedented 501 not out) in the span of 40 days. But within a year he publicly claimed “cricket is ruining my life” and almost walked out of the 1995 tour of England.

The last decade has been one of turmoil and triumph—sometimes in a bewildering mix—for both the West Indies and their master batsman and on/off captain, now into his third term.

Losing to India for the first time on their soil in 35 years was apparently the last straw.

Right through the series Lara exhibited a siege mentality that led him to be ultra-defensive in his captaincy and defeatist in his thinking and statements.

This was all the more bewildering considering the home side had shown real signs of a revival after winning the ODI series 4-1. This after losing the first game at Sabina Park and against opponents ranked way above them in the ICC rankings.

But after conceding a big first innings lead in the opening Test at St. John’s, Antigua and being outplayed for more than two days, the tourists came back strongly and were on the brink of victory. It took a terrific display of defiance by the tail-enders to save the Windies’ bacon.

Already cracks were showing and Lara now stepped up his confrontation with the selectors.

Whatever be the rights and wrongs of the issue, washing dirty linen in public Lara-style was the last thing West Indian cricket needed, what with the World Cup being staged there early next year.

The height of Lara’s petulance came in the second innings of the Kingston Test. When Harbhajan Singh got one to turn sharply past his bat, he sarcastically applauded in the direction of the groundsman.

Ironically, his young batsmen showed the way in almost taking their side to victory and Harbhajan was largely ineffective in the second innings. This only exposed Lara’s hollow claims that the pitch had been prepared to suit India’s bowlers.

The defeat on top of his own poor form set off the fuse that exploded in full public view, shaming in the eyes of the world, not only the captain himself, but worse still, the entire Caribbean cricket set-up It also sadly obscured the fact that his team had some real gains to show and that a 1-0 defeat was not all that bad after all.

 
More Views by Gulu Ezekiel
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