Vantage point

Tuesday, April 13, 2004


At stumps on day 4, England were 145 for no loss. Imagine if they manage to escape with a draw with 7 or 8 or even 9 wickets down, like they did in Sri Lanka. Will cricketing pundits say that Lara sacrificedthe chance of a redeeming test win just to go for personal records?

All of those who say Tendulkar is "selfish" and Lara is not, note that Lara was 313 off 426 balls overnight. He got his 400 in 582 balls. That means he took 156 balls to get the last 87 runs. This, when the team had crossed 600 and should ideally be looking for a speedy declaration. Contrast it with Hayden who was going wham-bam even when lara's record was in sight.

Or will the pundits say that reaching 400 was far more important than a test win that would not change the result of the series anyway. However note that if West Indies do not win it today, it will be the first time in many years (Harish would know exactly how many) that they did not win a single test in a home series.

Of course if the West Indies win, all this is irrelevant. However I seriously doubt that, given the spirit that the Poms have shown under first Hussain and then Vaughan.

By the way, doesn't the West Indian team remind you of the Indian hockey team at times? I have seen that whenever they have lost a test series at home before the last match, they always do brilliantly well in the last match. They beat South Africa in the last test 3 years back. There was the world record chase last year against Australia. And this year, the Lara 400. Even the Indian hockey team performs brilliantly in the Olympics or the World Cup, after they are out of running for the semis.

If any team needs the services of Sandy Gordon, it is West Indies. And over the past few months, I have been wondering if Lara really is a good captain, or simply a captain who bats very well. His captaincy record is worse than Walsh or Hooper. One might argue that they miss Walsh and Ambrose, but then, hardly any team in the world right now has a reliable and effective pace attack, not even Australia. More often than not, it is the WIndies batting that lets them down.

Before this test, I would have put my money on Lara losing the captaincy, but with this 400, I am not sure. Especially since it was a whitewash-avoiding knock.