2015
04.25

Brian Lara says West Indies cricket has been in decline for two decades now, but strongly refutes the notion by England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Colin Graves that the current side is “mediocre.” England’s current tour in the Caribbean was spiced up before a ball had even been bowled in anger by Graves, who ill-advisedly backed Alastair Cook’s men to whitewash their seemingly average hosts 3-0 in the ongoing Test series.

Those barbed comments have unsurprisingly not gone down too well among the home contingent and there have been some tasty ‘sledging’ exchanges between Marlon Samuels and England all-rounder Ben Stokes.

However, Lara believes the present-day Windies XI is considerably better than Graves’ dismissive assessment, with still room for improvement yet under a fellow Trinidadian in former Ireland coach Phil Simmons.

“It’s a good team and it doesn’t matter what the ECB chairman says,” said the 45-year-old, who represented Darren Clarke’s Rest of the World side at the Icons Cup here on Thursday and Friday.

“It’s important to understand that whenever you come up against 11 individuals, you cannot count them out. I’m pretty impressed with the way they’ve played, but we have to try to build and – if that is under Phil Simmons – then I wish him well.”

One of the problems you’d imagine for Simmons’ squad is the expectancy and pressure that invariably comes with following in the fabled footsteps of iconic legends like Curtly Ambrose, Lara himself and Courtney Walsh.

Nonetheless, Lara is quick to point out that his time in international cricket wasn’t particularly fruitful either, with one defeat in the mid-90s resulting in a progressive decline that has been hard to reverse ever since.

“My era wasn’t very good as well; I was in the decline of West Indies cricket,” Lara admitted. “The 1970s and ’80s were when we really dominated and the West Indies started the slide downwards in 1995, when we lost against Australia.

“We haven’t really recovered since then and there are a lot of mitigating factors and reasons for that as far as I’m concerned.

“People might think that the players are the ones to blame, but there are a lot of things outside of what you see on the field that’s going on that’s actually handicapping us and resulting in us not being able to produce the cricket – or even the cricketers – that we have produced in the past.”

The production line then needs to be improved and Lara feels a greater focus on the grassroots level of the game would benefit the national side in the long run.

“A lack of infrastructure and proper academies for the youngsters is what’s adversely affecting our cricket,” he added.

“To produce those things, you would need money and astute thinkers to put everything together and maybe we’re lacking in those areas, but I’m not sure.”

-yahoo.com

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