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Cloud over Lara illness

Bridgetown: Mystery surrounds the illness which has laid low West Indian batsman Brian Lara in the third Test against Australia here.

Lara left his sick bed and came in at number eight to try and avoid another follow-on, but was controversially adjudged leg-before five overs from stumps for 14.

Lara laboured during his 80 minutes at the crease, but neither he nor the West Indies team officials said what was wrong.

Team officials would not confirm whether the premier batsman might have contracted chickenpox, which kept teammate Jermaine Lawson out of the second Test.

Lara, who celebrated his 34th birthday on Friday, arrived at Kensington Oval after tea and left without any explanation about his condition.

“You’ve got to go to the team manager. I batted today and I will bat in the second innings,” Lara said.

But manager Ricky Skerritt added to the general confusion when he said: “I’m not the team doctor. I’m not going to talk about Lara.”

A team spokesman said Lara’s health would be assessed again on the fourth day. The latest setback continues Lara’s recent health problems. He contracted hepatitis late last year, which forced him out of the tour to India last October and out of international cricket for four months.

Lara was hospitalised after scoring a century during the Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka last September and he did not play for the West Indies again until the World Cup.

Lara’s situation is critical to the West Indies’ attempts to prevent a first-ever series whitewash in 73 years’ cricket in the Caribbean.

He will have only a few days to recover before Friday’s fourth and final Test in Antigua.

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