ST JOHN’S, Antigua (CMC) — Batting legend Brian Lara has identified the mental aspect as a critical area of focus for West Indies, and believes he can play a significant role in strengthening the Caribbean side in this regard, as they prepare to face India in a two-Test series starting here Thursday.
The former West Indies captain is part of the ongoing preparation camp which started last Friday at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground, where he has been lending his vast experience to the cadre of young batsmen.
And Lara said while the technical skills and work ethic was present in the squad, a key area to address was the mental approach.
“What I’ve seen in the camp is intense practice, which is good. I think the intensity I’ve seen in this camp is very good. The young players are working hard, Floyd Reifer and his team are actually putting things together pretty good,” the 50-year-old Lara said.
“Where I feel I can make an impact is their mental approach to the game. I feel as if I was to strike on one thing that I was decent at was mentally where I prepared myself strongly and I think something might be missing.
“The practical side is there for the young players, but I feel mentally they can grow a little bit and learn a little bit more.”
West Indies face India in the opening Test at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground, hoping to end their wretched record against the visitors which has seen them without a single Test win in nearly two decades.
However, they will be hoping to build on their success in their only Test series this year when they stunned world number one England 2-1 in a three-Test series in the Caribbean.
Lara, who plundered 11,953 runs from 131 Tests during an illustrious career, said that a series win was an excellent foundation on which a turnaround could begin.
“I decided to join the camp simply because I feel this present crop of West Indies players, especially in the Test arena, is the right group of players,” said Lara, who remains the record-holder for the highest Test and first-class scores.
“The talent that’s within is there. The performance against England to win a series at home, I think, is the start of something really good for us. We must lay the foundation at home first before we travel abroad in foreign conditions to sort of take command of situations.”
Lara has been joined in the camp by another West Indies captain and stroke-maker, Ramnaresh Sarwan, who also worked with the Windies side ahead of the Ireland Tri-Nations Series in April.
Together, it is hoped they can inspire the current Windies batting group in what will be a difficult series against a world-class bowling attack.
Lara, a formidable opponent during his playing career, said it was important to see the young batsmen develop their obvious potential.
“I’m hoping that I can impart some type of knowledge, some of my experiences in the past to the young batsmen, especially that we have in the team to see if we can get a little bit more out of them because it’s necessary,” he said.
“It’s a good group of young players, we just have to get them thinking in the right way.”