“West Indies Cricket are in serious trouble” – Brian Lara says Caribbean needs better facilities, latest technology

West Indies legend Brian Lara said the region will continue to fall behind in world cricket if better facilities and technology are not provided for the players.

Lara, who is in India doing commentary for the 2024 Indian Premier League (IPL) T20 tournament, was speaking virtually on day two of the Caricom Cricket Conference at Hyatt Regency Hotel in Port of Spain on Friday.

West Indies were a powerhouse in the 1970s, 1980s and in the first half of the 1990s.

Despite having an abundance of talent, the facilities were not in place to further develop the ability of players in the Caribbean, said Lara.

“The lack of good facilities and academies with the right technology to grow the game kept us aside,” Lara said.

“We felt that our cricketers were naturally good and the way we learnt the game was still the best way. No, it was not and if we still believe that today we are in serious trouble. The science of this beautiful game cricket has significantly changed and we have to catch up. The latest technology must be used in our cricket, classrooms and state-of-the-art facilities for our practicals. There are no shortcuts, this is serious business.”

Lara would have been pleased to hear earlier in April that Reliance Industries Ltd of India has plans to build an academy in Trincity. Reliance Industries owns IPL team Mumbai Indians. Mukesh Ambani owns Reliance, one of the richest people in the world.

The former West Indies captain, who has the highest Test score and First class score in the history of cricket, wants everyone who cares about West Indies cricket to join forces.

“It is about respecting the views of all stakeholders and making everyone feel that they are part of the process because we are all important to the process.”

Reflecting on the dominant period of West Indies cricket, Lara said that time has passed and the level of interest in West Indies cricket is dwindling.

“We are a proud people and what cricket means to us and the identity it has given us worldwide is slowly being erased. We were so good, we were the best in the world. What happened? What went wrong? Even today the best players we have are reluctant to play for us.”

Lara said it is a challenge to keep Caribbean players motivated to play for West Indies as the lure of lucrative T20 cricket is not going away.

“The game is moving away and giving less importance to country versus country and more importance to franchise cricket with more than 12 leagues available to players throughout the year.”

Many other West Indies greats spoke during the two-day conference including Sir Clive Lloyd, Joel Garner, Sir Wes Hall, Michael Holding, Bryan Davis and Daren Sammy, who is now the coach of the West Indies white-ball teams.

Dr Keith Rowley, Prime Minister of TT, was the main facilitator of the conference as he is the chairman of the Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on Cricket.

Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley and president of Guyana Dr Irfaan Ali also made key contributions at the conference.

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