Lara eager for England Tests
LONDON: West Indies captain Brian Lara said he hoped his side’s NatWest Series wins over England would inspire them for their forthcoming Test campaign.
West Indies’s seven-wicket win against England at Lord’s on Tuesday saw them secure a return to the world famous ground for Saturday’s final of the triangular one-day series against New Zealand, who had already qualified. Lara’s men will start a four Test series against England at Lord’s on July 22. It is a chance for revenge after England won the recent Test series in the Caribbean 3-0 – their first series win in the West Indies since 1968.
But the subsequent one-day contest between the teams finished level at 2-2. And after seeing his side knock England out of their own one-day tournament, thanks mainly to opener Chris Gayle’s 132 not out, Lara said: “The one-day series in the Caribbean was a 2-2 draw and we beat England here in two games out of three. That’s a little psychological advantage but of course England playing at home, after coming out to the Caribbean and beating us 3-0, will definitely hold that high. It’s just an opportunity for us to regroup. We’ve got a very important two months coming up. We’ve got a couple of guys coming over in the next couple of days for the Test series and they are going to be coming in a great mood knowing that we have done well against England and are in a final for the first time for a long time. But after Saturday we start afresh,” added 35-year-old master batsman Lara, whose one-day team face New Zealand at Hampshire’s Rose Bowl ground on Thursday in a dress rehearsal for the final.
“It’s a new series, a Test series. We have faltered in the past in the five-day game and we are going to try to correct that.”
Lara said what pleased him most about his team’s recent form was the way they had not depended on a major innings from him but had seen other members of the side take a leading role. “I think it’s important that one person alone doesn’t have to do it,” added Lara who regained the world record for the highest individual Test score with 400 not out in April’s drawn fourth Test against England in Antigua. “It’s great to see. The guys are coming together. They are getting better with more experience.
Chris (Gayle) is 24, Ramnaresh Sarwan is closing in on 24. It’s taken them some time but they got into international cricket very early, at 19 and 20, and we expected them to take time. But now it’s coming to fruition.” Tuesday’s defeat for England was the 11th successive one-day international they had lost batting first, a run stretching back to last year’s World Cup in South Africa.
The match also saw captain Michael Vaughan’s poor run of form continue with the 29-year-old opener out for eight. That meant the Yorkshire batsman’s tally from his five series innings was a meagre 47 runs. “I just haven’t played well enough,” Vaughan admitted. But he added England were close to becoming a one-day force to be reckoned with.
He pointed out how Andrew Strauss, who made his maiden one-day international hundred on Tuesday, all-rounder Andrew Flintoff (who scored 123) and fast bowler Stephen Harmison had all become established in the limited overs side. “A few months ago we didn’t have Andrew Strauss, we didn’t have Stephen Harmison, with the white ball, and we didn’t have a world-class all-rounder in Andrew Flintoff. “If we can sort out the batting at the top we’ll have a real good team.” afp