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|February 23, 1999||
Lara named captain, on probation
Brian Lara has been retained as West Indies captain for the opening two Tests of a four-match series against the powerful Australians, despite being blamed in part for a humiliating defeat at the hands of South Africa recently.
West Indies Cricket Board president Pat Rousseau said last evening that the board, which met all day, had accepted the recommendation of the selectors even though it held the management team of Lara, coach Malcolm Marshall and manager Clive Lloyd largely responsible for the 5-0 series sweep in South Africa.
"Our investigations pointed clearly to weakness in leadership that contributed to poor performance of the team,'' Rousseau said.
"The captain himself reported difficulty in achieving unity among the players,'' he added. "Problems were also evident at the level of coach and manager.''
In giving the talented left-handed batsman another chance, Rousseau outlined that certain targets would have to be met if Lara was to have a long-term future in the job.
"We have told Lara that he needs to make significant improvements in his leadership skills. We believe he has it within him to fulfill his potential but we are not prepared to wait indefinitely for these qualities to emerge,'' Rousseau said. "To this end, he will be given specific performance targets by the chairman of selectors (former Test wicket-keeper Mike Findlay) related to improvement in his relationship with his players, discipline and really with an emphasis on punctuality, interaction with the coach and manager and nurturing and development of his team members.''
Rousseau indicated that Marshall and Lloyd would be under similar scrutiny and their performance over the first two Tests, starting March 5 in Trinidad, would also determine their future.
"At the end of the second Test, the selectors will assess Lara's performance as captain against the targets set and decide on the appointment of the captain for the next two Tests,'' Rousseau said.
Rousseau also announced the appointment of Dr. Rudi Webster, an internationally recognized sports psychologist, to work with the team leading up to and during the upcoming series.
Lara, now 29, was first appointed captain just over a year ago as replacement for fast bowler Courtney Walsh, who had been at the helm in Pakistan where the West Indies lost all three Tests of that series. The Trinidadian got off to a successful start with a 3-1 Test and 4-1 one-day series victory over England in the Caribbean last April before the South African debacle.
Lara is to meet with fellow selectors, Findlay and former Test players, Joel Garner and Joey Carew over the weekend with the team for the first Test to be announced March one.
Mail Prem Panicker
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