Lara hopes to inspire West Indies as he returns to the location of his epic century.
The legendary West Indies cricketer Brian Lara has warm recollections of the city of Bulawayo in southwest Zimbabwe, where he hit 191 in a Test innings two decades ago. The 53-year-old was back to the Queens Sports Club this week in his new capacity as West Indies performance mentor, the site of his 203-ball century.
His first assignment is to support the West Indies in a two-Test series against Zimbabwe starting on Saturday. The Caribbean nation has faced Zimbabwe 10 times in the longest format, winning seven times and drawing three times.
Once a dominant force in international cricket, the Windies have fallen on hard times, with a first-round loss from the Twenty20 World Cup in Australia last year the latest blow. Lara, who is now the top individual, went 400 games without losing against England in 2004. Test score, one of three men on a panel that recently examined the problems of the multi-nation team.
The tribunal blamed certain West Indies stars for prioritising T20 franchise cricket over international service on the sport’s financial allure. The warning was stern: if the problem of its top players choosing global T20 leagues over international calls-up is not fixed, West Indies cricket may “stop to exist.”
Since his arrival in Zimbabwe, Lara has kept a low profile, merely stating that he “believes he can aid the players with their mental approach and tactics.” After losing a Test series in Australia by a score of 2-0 two months prior, the West Indies would play Zimbabwe with an interim coach and a number of changes due to injuries.
Following the humiliating T20 World Cup loss, coach Phil Simmons resigned. The trips to Zimbabwe and South Africa the following month, according to his replacement Andre Coley, will be “difficult.” The tours, he claimed, “give me a chance to directly and significantly contribute to the development of West Indies cricket.”
After a 14-month layoff, fast bowler Shannon Gabriel has been called back up since Jayden Seales cannot play due to knee surgery. Anderson Phillip, a pitcher, was hurt as well. An opening batter named Kraigg Brathwaite led a 15-man side that included left-arm spinners Gudakesh Motie and Jomel Warrican.
Since defeating Pakistan in 2013, Zimbabwe has gone winless in 22 Test matches. This will mark coach Dave Houghton’s first match in the longest format since being hired last year. While prolific scorer Sikandar Raza will not be there since he is playing franchise cricket in Dubai, former England batsman Gary Ballance will make his Test debut for his own nation.