Lara no problem for me: King

Published: Sunday, January 2, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Melbourne:New West Indies cricket coach Bennett King says there are no problems in his working relationship with team captain Brian Lara.

The West Indies arrived here Sunday to prepare for their triangular one-day series with Australian and Pakistan throughout January-February.

King, the former head coach of the Cricket Australia Centre of Excellence, said he would have to do things differently with Lara, the side's batting superstar, because of his standing in the game.

King admitted 35-year-old Lara would follow his own training regime because of his age and experience, but said talk the left-hander was difficult to manage was way off the mark.

"At the moment I don't know where it (talk) comes from and I was conscious of going in with an open book and having heard all the rumours and all the innuendo and making my own opinion," King told a media conference shortly after the 14-man squad's arrival here.

"But from my point of view, he smiles at me every day and I smile at him every day, so it goes all right."

King said there was no problem unifying a side containing players from all over the Caribbean.

But he added he would take a different approach to coaching Lara -- a veteran of 112 Tests and 244 one-day internationals -- because of his age, experience and place in the team.

"We've got to be mindful of his longevity in the game and how we manage him so we get the best out of Brian for as long as he wants to play," King said.

"Some people need to be treated differently and sometimes when you... start maturing, you need to also be adaptable to some of their needs and the players around them and the (other) players need to understand that too."

"He's had 35 years in cricket and he's hit 10 million cricket balls in his career as it is, whereas a 20-year-old's probably hit about 200,000 so it's not going to take Brian that long to get into pretty good shape."

The West Indies' lead-up to their arrival in Australia was dominated by fears the side's best players -- Lara among them -- would not tour because of a sponsorship-related contract dispute.

But Bennett was never in doubt the dispute would be resolved and said finding the resources to train his players properly had been of greater concern.

"It's been a pleasure to work with these boys from the islands and the limiting factor for them is... the amount of resources that are available within the Caribbean to consistently train and put in the hours that some of the other nations have the opportunity to," he said.

King said his first goal was to have his side perform more consistently after it endured an fluctuating 2004 in which the West Indies lost a Test series to England at home, yet bounced back in September to win the Champions Trophy one-day tournament.

The West Indies play Victoria in a day-night match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Wednesday, before matches against Australia A in Hobart next week.

They launch the tri-series against Australia at the MCG on January 14.

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