Bridgetown: Former greats on Friday paid glowing tributes to retiring batting genius Brian Lara, saying he leaves behind a great legacy.
But the praise was tinged with regret over his failures as captain of a declining team.
The record-setting left-hander announced he would retire from international cricket after his team’s last World Cup match against England on Saturday, bringing to an end a 17-year stay on the frontline.
Former bowling great Wes Hall was surprised over Lara’s sudden decision despite the 37-year-old having already announced he would retire from one-day cricket after the World Cup but would continue to play Tests.
“I am lost for words, it’s unexpected,” said Hall. “He was a great servant to West Indies cricket. His legacy is fantastic, a great batsman, 400 in a Test, 501 in first-class cricket, I mean it’s a big legacy,” added Hall, also an ex-president of the West Indies Cricket Board.
Ramnaresh Sarwan, tipped to take over as new West Indies captain, praised Lara’s mental strength. “Lara is a very strong man. He has come under a lot of scrutiny but his mental strength stands out,” said Sarwan, who has been Lara’s deputy since 2003.
But despite acclaiming his stature, some of his most vociferous critics accused Lara of prolonging his career.
“Lara stayed on for longer than he should have, and now it’s time to thank him and look forward,” said former fast bowler Michael Holding.
Joel Garner said Lara’s leadership left a lot to be desired.
“It is his decision (to retire) and I can’t say it’s wrong. A captain can only be judged by his success record and that’s not good in his case. Now we have to take drastic steps to carry West Indies cricket forward,” said Garner. (AFP)