Legendary West Indian batsman, Brian Lara has called upon the top sides of cricket to come together and ensure that the game of cricket maintains its integrity.
Speaking at the MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey lecture at Lord’s Lara said the top side of cricket also have a responsibility to take the game forward and demonstrate how it is played.
The highest-ranked team in the world has the responsibility to ensure that the integrity of the game is upheld every single time they play. And that the spirit of cricket is with them every time they enter the field.
“I grew up at a time when West Indies dominated the world. For 15 years from 1980, the West Indies never lost a Test series. And just before that, Colin Croft decided he was going to take a piece out of Fred Goodall’s shoulder and ran into him during a Test Match. Michael Holding decided he was no longer a cricketer, he was a footballer and he kicked a stump. I’m sure the occurrences during that period had a big effect on cricket.”
Recalling the series of 1990 against England, Lara said that the behavior by the home side was disturbing.
“Everyone said England had no chance. but they won in Jamaica and, in Trinidad, even after rain, had ample time to chase down a small total.”
“I had never seen groundsmen and officials fight for Man of the Match. They moved lethargic, slow. If there was a wet spot someone went off the field, they came back with nothing in their hands, they took their time to ensure this game was not going to start anytime soon. Eventually, it started with a couple of hours to go and England still had time. We bowled, in one hour, seven overs. It was dark and Graham Gooch had to call his troops from the field and West Indies grabbed a draw.”
“This is maybe the most embarrassing moment for me as a young West Indian, watching a West Indies team time-wasting, playing the game in a way it should never, ever be played.”
“I was the 12th man. I was very, very guilty. I was running out with laces, a banana, water, cough tablets, all sorts of things in that last hour. It was truly embarrassing.”
“They went on to Barbados. It was another keenly-fought Test and Rob Bailey was batting with not much time to go for a drawn Test. He flicked the ball down the leg side and Jeffrey Dujon dived and collected. The first slip – I’m not going to call his name – ran towards the umpire and signalled. The umpire wasn’t taking him on but he kept going and going and eventually he stuck his finger up and gave Bailey out. It definitely wasn’t out.”
“England sort of lost faith in the game. They lost that Test and the next in Antigua for West Indies to win the series 2-1.
“As a West Indian, I was truly embarrassed. As a young cricketer who looked up to a lot of the individuals in the team, it was one of the saddest moments in the world. For me, I felt the West Indies being the best team in the world needed to play cricket in a different way.