Ken Gordon, president of the West Indies Cricket Board, announced on Wednesday during a news conference at his office in the Trinidad and Tobago capital that Lara would replace fellow left-hander Shivnarine Chanderpaul.
Chanderpaul held the position over the last year in which he could only motivate the side to a solitary Test win and three victories in limited-overs internationals before resigning almost three weeks ago.
The 37-year-old Lara, Test cricket's leading run scorer, disclosed that he was a little reluctant to take the job, since he had resigned himself to supporting a young captain for the remainder of his playing days and helping him to mature into the job.
It took a lot of support from past and present players to cajole him into reconsidering his decision not to accept the position again.
"This decision came following a lot of thought and consideration from myself," Lara said.
"The fact that a number of former great players took the time out to give me a call over the last couple of weeks to instil in me some interest to revisit my position about the captaincy of the West Indies team was a humbling experience.
"This was followed by a number of phone calls from present teammates who felt at this juncture of West Indies cricket, if there was one person that should accept the mantle of leadership especially leading up to the 2007 ICC World Cup in the West Indies, it should be me."
Lara paid tribute to Chanderpaul and revealed that his predecessor had also called to offer his support to him.
"I want to say that he did a wonderful job in the circumstances and I think he will reap the benefits of his efforts in his later life," Lara said.
"I am sure that I have his support and I also received a call from him before. He informed me that he would support whoever gets to the top, but he thinks that I should give it some sort of consideration."
Lara believes that he now has all the support necessary from within the team and the West Indies Cricket Board to help resurrect the Caribbean side from its waning fortunes.
"I see my role as being part of a group of players - former and present - making an effort to rebuild West Indies cricket," he said.
"With the likes of Clive Lloyd, Deryck Murray, Desmond Haynes, and quite a few other individuals are part of different committees in our cricket. I see their commitment and their interest is parallel to when they were playing.
He added: "I am happy to be part of such a group. I am happy to know that the WICB has the faith in me. I am happy that the players, coaches, and selectors also had that faith in me. It is time for us to move on and plan properly to start moving upwards.
"Upward mobility in West Indies cricket is a great necessity at this time. We have a lot of things that will be happening off the field and a turning of the corner is what is needed for the psyche of our people."
West Indies are preparing for a seven-match limited-overs international series against Zimbabwe, starting with a double-header on Saturday and Sunday at the Antigua Recreation Ground.
The squad for the first two limited-overs internationals was also named and there were no major surprises.