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'Hosting the World Cup is an experience to cherish'
Willow Talk: Brian Lara

Brian LaraHad you imagined that the World Cup would be played in the West Indies?

Lara: Never! There are several popular sports in our region, like soccer, baseball and athletics. The opportunity to host a World Cup is wonderful for all of us. It is an experience to cherish and I feel it would be great for our future too.

How excited are you to be the skipper of the host nation?

Lara: I am most definitely excited, very excited. As I said, you do not get such opportunities daily. I am looking forward to it.

It is said that you are collecting cricketing mementoes to build a museum at your home in Trinidad.

Lara: Yes. Every tourist makes it a point to visit my place. A cricketing museum, if built, will attract more people. Mementoes will provide tremendous historical value for cricket-lovers and school-kids. Read moreread more

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The Indian team will be based in Trinidad, your home country.

Lara: It will suit the Indians. Trinidad has a huge Indian community. The people here are cordial, their food habits are similar and they love culture. So, I think the Indians will have a great time in Trinidad.

But the West Indies team will be based in Jamaica and they won't come to Trinidad initially.

Lara: We were told to be based in Jamaica and since we are the hosts, it should not bother us where we are staying. There is absolutely no problem. We just want to concentrate on the World Cup and there is no point wasting time thinking about the venues. Yes, I was disappointed to know that we shall not travel to Trinidad, but you should always look at the bigger picture.

The host-nation has never won the tournament since its inception in 1975. How confident are you of breaking this tradition?

Lara: Why can’t we break it? It can never be an excuse, I suppose! The Sri Lankans were co-hosts in 1996. They played the final in Lahore and did what they were supposed to do. There is no reason why we cannot do the same.

You seem to be confident about putting up a very good show.

Lara: Check our record for the last three years. We won the 2004 Champions Trophy in England and reached the final in 2006. We have been playing well against good, formidable teams and have the right balance of experience and youth. Then why shouldn’t we be confident?

Recent results had shown that the Aussies are beatable. Do you think they can be beaten in the World Cup as well?

Lara: They are the favourites, the overwhelming favourites. But they do have their weak points, which the other teams have to capitalise on. They have a wonderful system to run the game in their country. The infrastructure is there and that helps produce good cricketers. But they can certainly be beaten and in one-day cricket, it all depends entirely on the day's performances. So, on a given day, they can be beaten like any other country. I think captains like Rahul Dravid and Inzamam-ul-Haq would have taken note of this fact. They will come prepared.

Sachin Tendulkar was upset when he heard that you will be quitting one-day cricket after the World Cup. Any second thoughts?

Lara: Not at this stage. I am not getting younger. The next generation of cricketers has arrived on the scene, and the youngsters need to be thrown in. As a team, we have reached a position from where the team can move on. I feel it is the right time to retire from the one-day version. The World Cup is the best stage from which to say ‘bye’ to one-day cricket.

(An exclusive feature for Sify from PMG)

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