Brian Lara: Making Pollard limited-overs captain is not a bad decision

West Indies great Brian Lara speaks about why naming Kieron Pollard ODI and T20I captain augurs well for the team ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia next year.

Brian Lara feels Pollard has gained the respect of his team-mates and he can move the team forward.   -  AFP

After spending some time in Australia, Brian Lara is in Mumbai to be part of the Star Sports team for the India - West Indies series featuring three Twenty20 matches and as many ODIs.

Before teeing off at the Willingdon Sports Club in Mahalaxmi — he inaugurated the Habitat for Humanity Charity Golf Tournament— Lara spoke about why the West Indies limited-overs captaincy was handed to Kieron Pollard.

“First of all, Kieron Pollard, I remember when he was picked for the first time for the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean, that was 12 years ago. Over some time, his representation for the West Indies may not be a lot, but he has played all around the World in different leagues. He has gained a lot of respect from the opposition. I didn’t see it as a bad decision.“

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World T20 in focus

Lara felt Pollard has gained the respect of his team-mates and he can move the team forward. “There is a World Cup in under 12 months and you are looking for the right person, someone who can keep the ground running. He has the experience to do so. It is a good decision, but it is still going to be an uphill battle.”

The left-hander who entertained the purists and others alike with his scintillating batting further said: “The West Indies are twice Twenty20 champions and a lot of opposition around the world are scared of it in the shortest format of the game. But he (Pollard) will have to build a team in these matches that are leading up to the World Cup. Playing against India in India is always a tough proposition and he must leave here not necessarily winning, but a better team after this tournament.“

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Talking about David Warner’s unbeaten 335, Lara asserted that the Australian left-hander should have been allowed to go for the World record (Lara’s 400 not our).

“I happened to be in Adelaide and I thought it was kind of destiny being there. I felt maybe, just send a message out that you have 10 overs to do something; but at the end of the day (Australia’s declaration) the decision was right. They won the match with a day to spare. I believe records are meant to be broken, even David Warner may have the next chance. He is an attacking player, who can put your team in a winning position.”

Mental health

Lara also touched upon how mental issues have hurt Australian cricketers. “I can talk only about my personal experience. I felt that my career maybe (seen) in three phases, from the beginning of my international career in 1989 to about 1995, it was on an upward spiral. I don’t think a lot of people will appreciate from 1995-98, it was on a downward spiral.

“I felt that the pressures of being a double world record holder played its part and the West Indies team was on its decline. I remember on occasions when I lay in my room feeling the despair.”

He further added:” It is real, it is part of all sport and it is coming to the fore now with a lot more aggression. Players are at least standing up and saying 'I need to just remove myself, fight myself and come back again'. We should pay attention to the kind of pressures the players are under now.”

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Lara believes that cricketers in the 1970s and 80s played for the love of the game. “You played for your country, you loved Test cricket. And even first-class cricket and that is also a very important thing to understand. First-class cricket sometimes with all the franchise cricket going on around in the world, the intensity of the game sometimes is a burden.

“Guys are playing for England and not playing county cricket, guys are playing for Australia and not playing Sheffield cricket, that just tells you how mentally draining it is, something that we should stand up and pay attention to.”