Lara says India challenge could bring the best out of West Indies; looks forward to “good things” from newcomers McKenzie, Athanaze

By July 08, 2023
Brian Lara talking to West Indies fast bowler, Kemar Roach. Brian Lara talking to West Indies fast bowler, Kemar Roach.

West Indies great, Brian Lara, believes India can bring the best out of the West Indies when they square off in a two-match Test series beginning on July 12 in Dominica.

“It’s a young group, ably led by Kraigg Brathwaite, of course, but I feel like some of the guys can really come into their own in this series,” Lara, who is with the team as a performance mentor, said in a CWI interview on Saturday.

“It’s a tough opposition but I believe that’s the way we can get the best out of them,” he added.

The West Indian selectors have started to look to the future in the batting department with the selections of 22-year-old Kirk McKenzie and 24-year-old Alick Athanaze.

Jamaica’s McKenzie earned his selection on the back of some good performances in the inaugural Headley Weekes Tri-Series and in a subsequent A-team tour of Bangladesh.

He had scores of 221 and 50 in the Headley Weekes series and followed those up with scores of 91 and 86 against Bangladesh A.

Athanaze captained the Windward Islands Volcanoes in this season’s West Indies Championship and scored 647 runs in five matches at an average of 64.70 with a pair of hundreds and four fifties.

“They’re both young, capable players. Of course, you’d hope they had a little more experience in the first-class arena but, looking at their style of play and their attitude, I believe they do have what it takes to perform at the highest level,” Lara said.

“It may take some time but, obviously, as an international cricketer, if you’re entering this stage it doesn’t matter what age you enter; you’ve got to learn very quickly and I think they have that sort of attitude to want to learn and be willing to listen. I look forward to good things in the future,” he added.

These matches will mark the start of the 2023-25 ICC World Test Championship cycle for both teams.

“Obviously, we’ve got two very important Test matches against India that start the two-year cycle for us. We know, whether it’s at home or away from home, they’re one of the top teams in the world,” Lara said.

“I think the guys are moving in the right direction in terms of where we started the camp and where we are at this present moment only a few days out from the first Test match in Dominica,” he added.

The two teams had very different results in the 2021-23 cycle. India, currently the top-ranked Test team in the world, finished the cycle second behind Australia, who they recently lost to in the World Test Championship Final.

On the other hand, the West Indies ended the cycle in eighth, only finishing ahead of Bangladesh.

 

 

 

 

 

Bradley Jacks

Bradley Jacks is a budding journalist and an avid sports fan. His love of research and sports has led him to SportsMax.tv, a place where those passions work hand in hand to allow him to produce content.

Related items

  • Sharma backed himself to be 'smart' with the bat in big India win Sharma backed himself to be 'smart' with the bat in big India win

    Rohit Sharma says he was "backing himself" for a big game after inspiring India to the win over Australia that saw them into the T20 World Cup semi-finals on Monday.

    Sharma became India's top scorer in T20Is, with his knock of 92 taking him to 4165, leapfrogging Virat Kohli's record of 4103.

    After a strong batting performance, India smothered what looked like a spirited chase by Australia to win by 24 runs and set up a meeting with England in the next round.

    Sharma admitted he was confident heading into the match and backed himself to outsmart Australia’s bowlers.

    That's what I have to do at the top of the order, see what the bowlers are trying to do and play accordingly," Sharma said.

    "There was a strong breeze and I needed to be smart. I was backing myself to do that.

    "You've got to factor in the breeze and the bowlers are smart as well. They won't bowl into the wind, and you can't be one-dimensional.

    "You have to access all sides of the field. It's been a good wicket and that's something you want to do as a batter, and you want to back yourself as a batter to play those shots.

    "Getting the century didn't matter. I wanted to bat with the same tempo throughout and put the bowlers under pressure.

    "You want to make big scores, yes. But you also want the bowlers to wonder where the next shot is going to come from."

    Meanwhile, Australia's World Cup fate is now out of their own hands.

    If Afghanistan beat Bangladesh in the later game, Australia will be knocked out, though even a big Bangladesh win would knock them out on net run rate.

    "Yeah, it's so disappointing," Mitchell Marsh said. "We know we still have a chance to make the semis but today, India got the better of us.

    "Over 40 overs there are a lot of small moments that you can think you could have done things better. But they got off to a flyer. Rohit Sharma is very hard to stop when he's in that mode. He deserves all the credit for that.

    "We knew that if we kept up with 10 an over for as long as possible, we were in the game. But India have some class bowlers, and they were too good for us today.

    "Come on Bangladesh!"

  • India cruise into World Cup semi-finals, Australia on the brink of exit India cruise into World Cup semi-finals, Australia on the brink of exit

    India booked their place in the T20 World Cup semi-finals with an impressive 24-run victory over Australia on Monday.

    Rohit Sharma was the star, hitting an excellent 92 off 41 balls to set India on their way to the win, with defeat leaving Australia in a precarious position.

    Virat Kohli was out for a duck after being caught off Josh Hazlewood early on (2-14), but Sharma took control, getting his half-century off just 19 balls.

    He was eventually bowled out by Mitchell Starc (2-45), but the damage was already done, as Suryakumar Yadav (31), Shivam Dube (28) and Hardik Pandya (27no) helped India to 205-5.

    Australia started their innings strongly though, as Travis Head hit 76, but he was caught by Sharma after Axal Patel pulled off an incredible one-handed catch to dismiss Mitchell Marsh for 37.

    The chase stalled somewhat after that, with Arshdeep Singh getting two late wickets to finish on 3-37, limiting Australia to just 181-7.

    India will face England in the semi-finals, but defeat for Australia means they will be out of the tournament if Afghanistan beat Bangladesh. They could also miss out on net run rate if the result is flipped and Bangladesh get a big enough victory.

    Data Debrief: Sharma on top

    Sharma's knock of 92 included seven fours and eight sixes, and it means that he leapfrogs to the top of the charts.

    He is now the top scorer for India in T20Is with 4165 runs, going past Virat Kohli's 4103, and is also the top-scorer in T20Is overall, moving above Babar Azam's tally of 4145.

  • Markram 'not brainwashed' by reaching T20 World Cup semi-finals Markram 'not brainwashed' by reaching T20 World Cup semi-finals

    Aiden Markram was in no mood to celebrate despite helping South Africa secure their place in the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup. 

    The Proteas earned a three-wicket victory over co-hosts West Indies at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium on the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method. 

    South Africa restricted their opponents to 135-8, but lost Reeza Hendricks (1) and Quinton de Kock (7) in the second over before Tristan Stubbs and Heinrich Klaasen steadied the ship. 

    Marco Jansen was the man to get them over the line, holding his his nerve and hitting a six to secure the triumph with five balls of the contest remaining.

    "A lot of relief to get through to the semi-final," captain Markram, who scored 18 runs from 22 balls, said after the encounter. 

    "But I'm not going to be brainwashed by that, we'd have liked to be a lot more convincing in getting the job done.

    "It's been the story of our competition to get ourselves into tricky situations then by hook or by crook, get over the line."

    For the West Indies, the defeat ended their hopes of claiming a third T20 World Cup title, having lost to England and overcoming fellow co-hosts the United States in their Super 8 fixtures. 

    "Credit to the boys, they fought to the very end. As a batting group, best to forget, the middle overs especially," Windies captain Rovman Powell said. 

    "When you look on a large scale, we haven't reached the semis. But the cricket we've played in the last 12 months is commendable. To move from number nine to number three in the world, there's a lot of buzz in West Indies cricket.

    "When we hear the anthem play we hear something, we're heading in the right direction."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.