Lara bats for T20 cricketStaff Correspondent
The growing Twenty20 tournaments in the world will bring no harm to Test cricket as they can go on simultaneously, said former West Indies great Brian Lara on Thursday.
‘I believe now with T20 cricket, a lot more people are watching the game,’ Lara told reporters at a city hotel in Dhaka after he joined a Bangladesh Premier League franchise Chittagong Kings as Brand Ambassador.
Lara played 131 Tests and 299 one-day internationals in his glittering career but never had a chance to play any Twenty20 International, a format that suits his batting best.
The cricketing landscape has entirely changed with the advent of Twenty20 cricket, but unfortunately for Lara it all happened after he retired in 2007.
However, unlike some other former greats, Lara is not against the format, which he said helped the game create more interest among the people and pull more crowds to the stadium.
‘Just remember, we are all entertainers. And if this kind of cricket brings interest to the people, cricketers will be happy to indulge in it,’ said Lara.
‘Test cricket is still important, so are the ODIs (one-day internationals) but T20 should be there too because of the crowd factor,’ said Lara.
West Indies came as perfect example for Lara, the last superstar from the region which once had dominated the cricketing world with their sheer power and elegance.
However, the game is now facing tough competition from football, athletics and basketball for its survival in the Caribbean. Twenty20 format gave West Indies cricket a boost they badly needed when the country became champions in the ICC World Twenty20 last year.
Lara said it helped more young people to take a look at the game and make it their favourite sport.
‘In the Caribbean we found it difficult to encourage teenagers to take up the game,’ said Lara. ‘We are now launching our own domestic T20 competition. We will try to seek more youngsters to play the game in the Caribbean.
‘You look at Warner from Australia, Gayle and Sehwag. They are strong players in the T20 format. They bring a lot more excitement.
‘You look at Warner batting in a Test match. He can easily score 150 before tea. That’s what people want to see. And I think the effect will be a positive one,’ he said.
Lara, who made more than 10,000 runs both in Tests and ODIs, added that it was unfair to blame the format for some players, especially bowlers, losing their interest in Test cricket.
‘What I think is that the bowlers are pulling away from Test cricket probably due to the amount of work. The money on offer in T20 cricket is an attractive proposition for players,’ said Lara.
‘You’ll find a lot more players making themselves available for T20s. But all in all I think Test cricket is still very strong.
‘This kind of competition (BPL) will make cricket more exciting I believe. Both can go on simultaneously I think.’
Lara said his job at Kings will be more as a motivator than anything else as he has no coaching or playing role with the franchise.
‘I have been away from the game for six years now. My job now will be to act as a guide to the younger players. I want Bangladesh cricket to do a lot better,’ said Lara, who was making his first visit in Bangladesh for more than a decade.
He is expected to stay with Kings for the whole season, barring a brief promotional tour to India. Kings skipper Mahmudullah said his mere presence will be a huge boost for the side as he is a living legend.
‘It’s a great privilege and honour for all of us to have him with us. It will be huge motivation for us throughout the tournament,’ said Mahmudullah.
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