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Embarrassed by how West Indies played in the nineties – Lara

CricketEmbarrassed by how West Indies played in the nineties - Lara

 

“I had never seen groundsmen and officials fight for Man of the Match. They moved lethargic, slow. If there was a wet spot someone went off the field, they came back with nothing in their hands, they took their time to ensure this game was not going to start any time soon.

“Eventually, it started with a couple of hours to go and England still had time. We bowled, in one hour, seven overs. It was dark and Graham Gooch had to call his troops from the field and West Indies grabbed a draw.

“This is maybe the most embarrassing moment for me as a young West Indian, watching a West Indies team time-wasting, playing the game in a way it should never, ever be played.

“I was 12th man. I was very, very guilty. I was running out with laces, a banana, water, cough tablets, all sorts of things in that last hour. It was truly embarrassing.

“They went on to Barbados. It was another keenly-fought Test and Rob Bailey was batting with not much time to go for a drawn Test. He flicked the ball down the leg side and Jeffrey Dujon dived and collected. The first slip – I’m not going to call his name – ran towards the umpire and signalled. The umpire wasn’t taking him on but he kept going and going and eventually he stuck his finger up and gave Bailey out. It definitely wasn’t out.

“England sort of lost faith in the game. They lost that Test and the next in Antigua for West Indies to win the series 2-1.

“As a West Indian, I was truly embarrassed. As a young cricketer who looked up to a lot of the individuals in the team, it was one of the saddest moments in the world. For me, I felt the West Indies being the best team in the world needed to play cricket in a different way.”

Lara also suggested that such gamesmanship actually damaged Caribbean cricket in the long run. The series wins they achieved over Pakistan and England allowed them, Lara claims, to overlook their flaws that might have been addressed had they lost.

“People talk about the Tests series we lost in 1995 as the time we began to spiral,” Lara said. “I felt we started to spiral years before that when the great players were playing.

“And if Pakistan or England got what they deserved in 1988 and 1990, I feel the West Indies officials would have taken a different look into what to do to save West Indies cricket at a time we had senior players who could have guided the younger players to have ensured we were on the right footing. But that didn’t happen.”

Lara also used the lecture to appeal for the introduction of a Boxing Day Test in the Caribbean – “the amount of you guys who could come out to Barbados and Antigua would, I’m sure, fill the stadium,” he said – and congratulate the West Indies side that recently won the Leeds Test. Quoting a text message he had received from Sachin Tendulkar, Lara referred to it as “a success the entire world needed.”

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