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CARIBBEAN - cricket test match 2005

Brian Lara deserves special treatment on all three counts, new head coach Bennett King asserted HE’S the oldest, most seasoned and indisputably most vital member of the West Indies team and captain Brian Lara deserves special treatment on all three counts, new head coach Bennett King asserted yesterday.

“I think we’ve got to be very mindful of his longevity in the game and how we manage him so that we get the best out of Brian for as long as hewants to play,” King, the Australian who is the first foreigner to fill the post, said on the team’s arrival in Melbourne for the VB Series of One-Day Internationals against Australia and Pakistan.

“That’s the key for us at the moment,” King said, noting that the 35-year-old batting superstar, a veteran of 112 Tests and 244 ODIs, was still “enjoying his cricket”.

“We’ve just got to be aware that some people need to be treated differently,” King added. “Sometimes . . . when players start maturing, you need to also be adaptable for some of their needs. And the players around them need to understand that, too.”

“He’s hit ten million cricket balls in his career as it is, whereas a 20-year-old has probably hit about 200 000, so it is not going to take Brian that long to get into pretty good shape,” King explained.

Lara made his debut for the West Indies in Pakistan in 1991 since then he has established himself as one of the finest batsmen of all time.

And his hunger for runs has not diminished in spite of the passing years. He amassed 1 178 runs at an average of 58.9 in 12 Tests in 2004 – and was fit and determined enough in April to reclaim the Test record score from Australia’s Matthew Hayden with his unbeaten 400 against England on the same Antigua Recreation Ground where he had first set the mark of 375 against the same opponents ten years earlier.

At the media conference held soon after arrival, King was asked about his relationship with Lara whose career has been enveloped in controversies of one sort or another, and who has outlasted seven coaches and four captains during his 12 years in the West Indies team.

As it was, Lara was absent from the media conference, pleading that he was “too tired” following the 30-hour flight to Australia via London.

“I was conscious of going in with an open book, having heard all the rumours and the innuendo (about Lara), and making my own opinion,” King, who took up his post in November, said.

“You’d better ask Brian but, from my point of view, he smiles at me every day and I smile at him every day,” he added. “It goes all right.”

The West Indies have their first match, a day-night, 50-over an innings contest, against state team, Victoria, at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), on Wednesday.

They play two one-day matches against Australia ‘A’ in Hobart, Tasmania, on Saturday and Sunday and start their VB Series campaign against Australia back at the MCG the following Friday, January 14.


West Indies Squad:

Brian Lara (captain), Shivnarine Chanderpaul (vice-captain), Chris Gayle, Wavell Hinds, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Marlon Samuels, Dwayne Bravo, Xavier Marshall, Ryan Hinds, Courtney Browne, Ian Bradshaw, Pedro Collins, Mervyn Dillon, Reon King; Tony Howard (manager), Bennett King (coach), David Moore (assistant coach/analyst), Stephen Partridge (physio), Imran Khan (media liaison)

The tour SCHEDULE (d/n denotes day-night match) Warm-ups

Wednesday, January 5 – vs Victoria at the MCG (d/n)

Saturday, January 8 – vs Australia A at Hobart

Sunday, January 9 – vs Australia A at Hobart

VB Triangular Series

Friday, January 14 – vs Australia at MCG (d/n)

Sunday, January 16 – Australia vs Pakistan at Hobart

Wednesday, January 19 – vs Pakistan at the Gabba

Friday, January 21 – vs Australia at the Gabba (d/n)

Sunday, January 23 – Australia vs Pakistan at the SCG (d/n)

Wednesday, January 26 – vs Australia at Adelaide Oval (d/n)

Friday, January 28 – vs Pakistan at Adelaide Oval

Sunday, January 30 – Australia vs Pakistan at the WACA

Tuesday, February 1 – vs Pakistan at the WACA


Friday, February 4 – 1st final at MCG (d/n)

Sunday, February 6 – 2nd final at SCG (d/n)

Tuesday, February 8 – 3rd final at Adelaide Oval (d/n); if necessary


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