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Since 1st March, 1999
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Two years of introspection has prepared me: Lara

Bridgetown: Brian Lara has said that “two years of introspection” have left him better prepared for his second stint as West Indies cricket captain in the upcoming home series against Australia and Sri Lanka.

“It’s a great challenge for me again,” the 33-year-old Lara said at the Kensington Oval on Monday after his appointment with the West Indies Cricket Board.

“I’ve had two years of introspection, two years of looking and seeing where I’ve gone wrong,” Lara said. “It was a period of learning. A lot of things I had done two years ago, I don’t think I’ll be doing now.”

Lara replaces Carl Hooper, whose two years at the helm ended with a disappointing 2003 World Cup campaign in southern Africa, where the West Indies failed to advance past the first round.

“Other than Carl, myself and Ridley (Jacobs), there is not much there in terms of experience,” Lara said. “So I think it would be a dereliction of duty if I was presented the job and to turn it down. I see my responsibilities and I want to play a part.”

He captained the West Indies in 18 Tests and 44 one-day Internationals between 1997 and 2000.

The Trinidadian double world-record holder resigned after a tour of New Zealand in 1999-2000 in which the West Indies lost both Tests and all five one-dayers.

At the time, he cited “moderate success and devastating failures that have engulfed West Indian cricket” as among the reasons for his quitting.

He missed the subsequent home series against Zimbabwe and Pakistan for personal reasons before returning to the team on the 2000 tour of England.

Since then, he has been sidelined at times by injury and illness, but has remained the team’s premier batsman when available.

Lara said he learned a lot as “one of the guys in the team” under first Jimmy Adams and then Hooper, but was looking forward to making his presence felt again.

“Definitely it will be a different style ... It will definitely be Brian Lara you’re seeing out there,” he said.

He was also optimistic in his outlook for the Australian series, which begins April 10 with the first Test in Georgetown.

“I wouldn’t take the job if I didn’t think we could win the series,” Lara said.

“We’ve got a team that is full of potential. We need to shape our characters especially in these tough times, especially against the best team in the world. There is no better opposition to do that against.”

During the Australians’ last Caribbean tour in 1999, then-skipper Lara produced three centuries, including a double, in four Tests. The series ended 2-2.

Lara was probably at his blistering best in that series, lifting the team from a humiliating defeat in the first Test to successive wins in the second and third. He scored an emphatic double century and shared a big fifth wicket stand with Jimmy Adams to take the team to a big total in the first innings.

The left-hander produced another gem in the third Test, as his team won the match chasing a target in the fourth innings.

Lara smashed an unbeaten hundred and his thrilling partnerships with tail-enders Curtley Ambrose and Courtney Walsh was the highlight of the match.

The West Indies lost the final Test, but Lara was still at his imperious best and scored a hurricane hundred in the first innings.

Best against Aussies

His form against Australia, in fact, has always been good and Steve Waugh acknowledged that he was the man his team was worried about.

Lara was in devastating form in his last Test series, against Sri Lanka there, and even as his team suffered a 0-3 defeat, the left-hander plundered a series of big scores.

He dislocated his shoulder in Sri Lanka after that which kept him out of cricket for a long time.

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