Thu | Dec 7, 2023

Role models critical to the sustainability of WI cricket – Lara

Published:Thursday | January 19, 2023 | 12:59 AMLennox Aldred/Gleaner Writer
Brian Lara is mobbed by fans who invaded the field of play at the Treasure Beach Park, hoping to take pictures and get his autograph.
Brian Lara is mobbed by fans who invaded the field of play at the Treasure Beach Park, hoping to take pictures and get his autograph.

WEST INDIES great, Brian Lara, with almost 12,000 Test runs and countless batting records to show, has come out to suggest that role models are critical to the survival of West Indies cricket.

The thousands of adoring, cricket-loving fans who graced the Treasure Beach Sports Complex last Sunday could not hold back their excitement when Lara walked to the crease to take part in the Resi Legends festival in St Elizabeth.

A number of those fans were youngsters accompanied by their parents, trying to get a glimpse of possibly the greatest batsman the game has ever seen.

The long-retired Lara, at 53, may have passed his best, however, the batting maestro no doubt lit up the eyes of some of those young fans with a few of the tantalising strokes Caribbean fans have become accustomed to over the years.

Lara admitted that it was pleasing to see so many young fans at the festival, and he reminisced about the days when he used to watch the greats such as Clive Lloyd, Viv Richards, and Lawrence Rowe, to name a few.

“It’s very important that we can come out and still see our role models. I grew up with a healthy diet of cricket, with West Indies being the best team in the world at the time in the [19]70s and ‘80s, and those role models played a very important part,” said Lara.

At the age of six, Lara’s father, Bunty Lara, enrolled the young left-hander into the Harvard coaching clinic, where he honed his skills as a batsman.

For Lara, the role of parents is also critical in ensuring that the conveyor belt of next-generation cricketers is still turning.

“Parents also have a role to play because we have lost a lot of positive cricketers in this computer age, but we still have to find a way to marry education and sport, which will see more rounded kids.”

Just last year, Lara started to dabble in a bit of coaching and has since taken on a batting-coach role with Indian Premier League franchise team Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Though the regional side is failing woefully on the international scene, Lara believes that all is not lost, with an abundance of talent still present throughout the region.

“I still believe that the best young cricketers are still playing. We as a people still have to harness that talent, and I think that’s where we are letting the youngsters down. We need better infrastructure to make those talents better.”