by TERENCE HILTON CLARKE
NOW that Brian Lara has
finally given a time period for his self-imposed exile from the West
Indies cricket team, we can all look forward to his possible return
in two months time.
Two months. That was the
approximate limit given by the former West Indies captain, on his rehabilitation.
This means we are likely to see him on the tour of England (unless the
WICB thinks otherwise). But, which Brian Lara we are going to see? Will
we, indeed, see a Lara belting England’s bowling attack to all corners
of Lord’s, The Oval, Old Trafford etc, and notch up some centuries?
Or, will bear witness to a Lara who may number one or two half-centuries
among a paltry return of low scores?
The latter scenario will
merely be a continuation of the inconsistent form that Lara, himself,
has admitted to. In seeking psychological counselling abroad, it appears
that much of Lara’s self-imposed rehabilitation is being directed towards
his mental state. The man who holds the record for the highest first-class
and test scores (501 n.o. and 375, respectively) was subject to a lot
of pressure during his two years as West Indies captain. Criticism from
across the region was aimed at both his handling of the team during
disastrous tours, such as those to South Africa and New Zealand, and
his patchy batting form. There has also been Lara’s less-than-perfect
relationship with the WICB, plus a host of other off-the-field distractions.
It seems that in acquiring professional help in dealing with his mental
distresses, Lara is hoping to alleviate some of the burdens that have
appeared to thwart his attempts at returning to being the reliable performer
that he was, up to five years ago.
But, the mental rehabilitation
is only one part of the problem and, as such, a successful period of
mental therapy, alone, will not yield a Brian Lara scoring 300 and 400
runs, along with an assortment of 100s and 50s. No, only a physically
fit Lara, one that is capable of staying at the crease for a least a
day and a half, and whose reflexes and batting technique are sharp,
will be capable of attaining such heights.
Has Lara factored in physical
preparation as part of his rehabilitation? Has he accepted that he is
going to have to combine hours of batting practice and physical exercise
in order to bring his undoubted talents to fruition, once more?
The fact of the matter is
that Lara’s rehabilitation has to be physical, and not just mental.
While he has the advantage of being one of the Caribbean’s best ever
batsmen, at almost 31 years of age, he has reached a phase whereby he
is going to have to find a means of extending this peak for as long
as possible. And, the only, legal, way this could be done is by making
a conscious commitment to physical preparation for the rest of his career.
Another fact that Lara must
consider, on the road to recovery, is the need to be properly motivated
EVERY time he walks out to the middle. It is known that good sportsmen
are frequently highly motivated, but great sportsmen are ALWAYS highly
motivated. If Lara is to ever be known as one of the greatest to have
ever played the game, even at this late stage in his career, he will
have to be much more consistent than he has ever been. This will only
come once he is physically prepared, and motivated, to meet the world’s