» News » Lara with his back to the wall is dangerous

Lara with his back to the wall is dangerous

By Vivian Richards
February 12, 2003 22:26 IST
Get Rediff News in your Inbox:

There is no doubt that our victory against hosts South Africa was no mean achievement. They are a very competitive team, and have got the better of the exchanges over the last two years. That win has given us an insight into what we are capable of in this tournament, and it's important to build on this.

We play our second game in Port Elizabeth on Thursday, and it is important that we learn from our first game. I felt we were too much in the driver's seat to have allowed them to come back into contention towards the end of the game.

It was not very pretty towards the end to see our bowlers being smashed around, and our problems with finishing off games resurfaced once again. However, it was a positive to see us not lose our heads, and the fact that we were able to pull it off in the end was encouraging. We have lost quite a few close games in the past, and the opener in Newlands hopefully starts a reversal of that trend.

The fact that senior players like Brian Lara and Shivnarine Chanderpaul are in good touch augurs well for the side. We could not have recovered from 9 for 2, but for the experience that our side possesses. Lara, Chanderpaul and Carl Hooper set the platform from where the younger guys launched the attack at the end. The complementing of each other was really heartening.

Before the match I had said I would never bet against Lara. I have seen that every time his role in the side or his caliber as a batsman has been questioned, Lara has let his bat do the answering. When we left the Caribbean, there was some concern about whether Lara should play in a side that had done so well in his absence in India. That knock at Newlands showed that when Lara has his back to the wall, he is dangerous.

Port Elizabeth has a slower wicket, and we might be able to get away with our bits-and-pieces bowlers on Thursday. Our bowling does look a little weak sometimes, and we will have to work on that aspect as we progress. When we finalise the eleven for Thursday, we have to decide whether or not to make changes in the bowling attack at this stage.

It is disappointing to see Shane Warne, one of the top players in this tournament, withdraw after testing positive. It is always unfortunate when a sportsman tests positive for a banned substance, regardless of whether he is guilty or not.

I'm an individual who likes to give others the benefit of doubt, and I would like to await the final verdict before commenting on the episode. Warne is a good man, and I have met him on a few occasions, especially after we were both included by Wisden in the top five cricketers of all time.

I have nothing personal against him, and he has been unfailingly polite whenever we have met. We've even had a few beers together in the past, and I find him a very decent person. Right now I am busy with my own team and not close to what's happening in that case. All I can say is that it's not good for the World Cup to have such a scandal break at the beginning of the tournament.

South Africa have put in a great deal of effort in organizing this tournament, and it's sad to see something like this hog the headlines. We must all wait and see how events unfold before jumping to any conclusions.


Get Rediff News in your Inbox:
Vivian Richards