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Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Tour Down Under will be Sourav’s ultimate test’
- Lara all for encouraging lesser teams, but Test status is 'another matter'

Calcutta, Sept. 20: An aura of immense self-confidence, an ‘I-am-the-best’ attitude and no minced words, that’s Brian Charles Lara — the West Indies captain.

It’s exactly that personality with which he has faced the mighty Australians, often taking an upper hand. Exactly the personality he exuded while answering questions at a city hotel on Saturday afternoon.

In the city to inaugurate MRF’s go-karting track in Rajarhat, Lara said, “When we beat Australia in the last Test in Antigua this year, team spirit was at the highest. We fought. We were facing a whitewash in the Caribbean and something had to be done to avoid that.” The West Indies successfully chased 418 in the second innings with Lara hitting 60.

The win was not only a great start to Lara’s second stint as West Indies captain, it was also the ‘most memorable moment till date’ of his glorious career.

“I had learnt a lot from my first tenure.I learnt a great deal from Jimmy Adams and Carl Hooper. I had taken a different approach . We developed goals and tried to fulfil that.”

So what does the Indian team need to achieve what he has' “India is a well-oiled side, with a lot of experience. In Australia you need loads of self-belief. India has that and strength of character too…,” Lara said.

“You need to take their reputation out of the way, tackle them like you would Zimbabwe or Bangladesh — you will definitely have the advantage,” he said.

“Ganguly has done a tremendous job. Every captain’s dream is to reach the top and I am sure Ganguly will achieve that. This Australian tour will help him learn a lot. It will be his ultimate test.” he opined.

And Sachin Tendulkar' “Sachin is a great player. But it’s not right to focus on one or two players all the time. Take Rahul Dravid — to me he is a great talent. I hope you give him a lot of respect in this country.”

But a few minutes with him and you know Sachin is Lara’s favourite. Asked about the 2003 World Cup final, he said, “I switched the TV off as soon as my boy got out — Sachin is one player who can turn things around anytime.”

Lara dismissed talk of sledging being an Australian prerogative. “I have been part of it too… sledging is spontaneous. It’s very important to understand that every player is representing his country and so a lot of emotion goes into it. We should expect this during the heat of the moment.

“If you are man enough, you will handle it well. It was nice to see Sarwan come out trumps with a hundred after his confrontation with an Australian bowler,” Lara quipped.

The ICC proposed on Friday to introduce 16 teams for the World Cup. The West Indian captain thinks encouraging teams with lesser ability, who have worked hard to qualify, for the World Cup is a good thing. “The World Cup comes every four years, so that’s okay. But giving away Test status is another matter. My main worry is that,” he remarked.

Facing spinners has never been a problem for the master batsman. In fact, Muttiah Muralidharan has always given Lara the full points. “Spin bowling is not uncommon in Trinidad, where a majority of the population is Indian. I grew up practising against spin in school cricket. In my country, spin is a norm,” Lara informed.

Lara’s attitude has often landed him in trouble during his career, often with his own board. “It’s a very tricky situation in the West Indies. Trying to manage a team, you could step on anyone’s toes. During the tour of South Africa in 1998, I had a few problems with the board, that derailed our efforts totally. But today, we have a very good relationship. There is always going to be that employee-employer relationship but we are definitely handling it much better now,” was how Lara put it.

Lara’s big dream — winning the 2007 World Cup, of course. “No home team has ever won the World Cup, so it’s going to be very very tough. ”

The never-say-die attitude might help his achieve just that.

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