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Decline started during Richards's captaincy: Lara

LONDON, SEPT. 8. Brian Lara does not lose an opportunity to remind people that the decline of West Indies cricket commenced during the reign of Vivian Richards. He approached the topic out of context and this unprovoked reference to Richards was a continuation of the slanging match between the two.

"The decline of West Indies cricket started during Sir Vivian Richards' captaincy. We are not beating anyone 5-0 anymore. Three fast bowlers of ours played in England and returned with stress fractures. It is not club cricket and that's where they have come from. A lot of things are pointed in my direction and I have been saying over and over again that I have been the servant of West Indian cricket and would continue to work in whatever capacity. Whatever I have achieved belongs to my people, whatever position they want me to hold I would do so. At least for the next two or three years, I want to enjoy my cricket."

Reflecting on the woes afflicting West Indies cricket, he maintained: " It's not going to change tomorrow, it is not going to change next month either. It's going to take a very long time for West Indies cricket to turn around. Cricket is a team game. It's great to make individual scores but the team is suffering and that is what hurts. It has not been emotionally very satisfying for me as we lost to England both in the Caribbean and here. Everything else takes second place if the team doesn't perform."

Under fire for the poor performance by the team under his leadership, Lara minced no words as he blasted the establishment for the current state of affairs. "I am in charge yes and chop my head off if you must but it is not going to be the solution. The problem is much deep-rooted and that's where all the astute men of West Indian cricket have to come together and plan for the future."

Hitting out at the running of the game in the Caribbean, he said "I think the administration has to be better. No money is coming from the governments. If you are playing international cricket, you can't survive without any retainer. I mean every Test playing country is getting it. We are going from tour to tour. It is going to be very difficult."

Citing the example of India, Lara stressed "if your number five or six are only 20-21 year old, without grade experience, you are going to struggle. India is still playing up to 60-70 per cent of the same team it played eight years ago.''

On the forthcoming Champions Trophy, Lara observed that it would be tough for favourite Australia because teams were playing much better cricket. — Our Special Correspondent

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