The boys have no choice, says Brian Lara

West Indies cricket legend Lara says the current team has to pull through and earn the World Cup ticket through the qualifiers.

Apart from winning the World Cup in 1975 and 1979, West Indies also won the World T20 title twice — in 2012 and 2016.   -  AP

 

Two-time world champions in both ODI and T20 format, West Indies, over the years, bridged the gap between cricket and entertainment in its own style. But in the last decade, its 50-over acumen turned dizzy and gradually, Windies (branded since 2017) slipped in the rankings.

Come March, the flamboyance of the Caribbeans will be at stake as it prepares to arrange for the World Cup ticket through the ICC World Cup Qualifers in Zimbabwe from March 4-25.

Read: West Indies taking nothing for granted in World Cup qualifying

Brian Lara, the legendary batsman from the last of the golden generation, feels Windies have no choice but to emerge winners at the qualifiers. “It's a situation where I think the boys have no choice, we have to pull it through. It (ICC rankings) is set up in such a way that we were out of that place (automatically qualifying) so we have to qualify. But it doesn't mean we can't get there, we have to get there,” Lara told The Age on Monday.

“We have a very good record in the Champions Trophy and we didn't have the opportunity to play (last year). The World Cup is a different story, obviously,” he said, adding, “It is something much more important. History in that particular tournament is very strong, especially in the early part of it, the first three or four World Cups.”

Brian Lara finished his career as skipper of West Indies in ICC World Cup 2007.   -  AP

 

But Lara, who featured in five World Cups for the Windies, feels that T20 cricket will not let the game slip from the Caribbean islands. “I don't think anything is going to happen to the sport. Cricket has taken a different turn since the invention of T20. It's actually turned cricket on its head in the Caribbean in terms of understanding the importance of Test cricket and the forms of the game," he said.

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"So T20 on its own has created a different spectator and different cricketer and that is going to evolve. The World Cup (if Windies doesn’t qualify), it would be a huge disappointment ... I don't want to think beyond that. The tournament is in front of the boys in Zimbabwe at present and they have got to pull it through,” he added.