Few cricketers made runs like Brian Lara. The left-hander carried forward the great legacy of West Indies cricket with style, substance and some scores that seem hard to beat.
But there is far more to Lara, 50, than just his cricketing skills and record-setting abilities. The diminutive batsman, best remembered for the highest Test score of unbeaten 400 against England in 2004 and a first-class high of 501 not out for Warwickshire against Durham in 1994, is no less prolific when it comes to holding his audience’s attention.
Lara is not well known for his oratory skills but who heard him once, return for more.
An avid golfer, Lara played a round at the Delhi Golf Club with Usha International ’s Siddharth Shriram and former Test captain Kapil Dev. He spoke of his commitment to endorse Usha’s ‘Play’ ethos that supports a sports culture at the grassroots to the international level. “I’m particularly keen to see if I can help the under-privileged through this initiative.” he said.
Later, Lara fulfilled his media obligations without ever looking in a hurry. Once that was over, a select-band of thrilled budding golfers fired questions at an equally exciting Lara.
'Legend of the game'
What future does he see for M. S. Dhoni?
“India’s got some young [wicketkeeping] talent like Rishabh Pant and Sanju Samson. But I really feel that somewhere is a tournament, like the IPL, maybe a decision can be made whether Dhoni should continue or he has the ability to continue. He is a great player and he does not want to be a liability to the squad. So, it's hard for me to say, you know, or have an opinion on it. But he is a legend of the game. And at some point in time, he would know that even he’s got to make way for the younger ones,” said Lara.
On Indian cricket, Lara said, “You have one of the best sides in the world. So everybody's sort of lining you up at some point in time. India needs to appreciate that and know when to turn it on at the right time. You felt that there's always that opportunity to beat India if [Virat] Kohli doesn't score or [Rohit] Sharma; that was always the sort of the weaklings, you felt that you get these two guys and you’re into them. And if they solidify that and get all 11 players moving in one direction and understanding their rules, every single stage, I think India could win many, many World Cups.”
Was T20 cricket taking away the charm of Test cricket?
“Yes, Do I want it to? No. But this is the way how it goes. People want sport that they can go on an afternoon and watch with their kids. It's not going to take five days. I'm not talking badly about Test cricket but that's what the present crop wants. You've got to give them what they want because we all entertainers. For people coming in through the turnstiles and people sponsoring, we are entertainers and that's where the game is going.”