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Brian Lara

March 2000


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 best bowlers.