Stage set for emotional farewell for 'Prince Lara'

Published: Saturday, April 21, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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Bridgetown (Barbados):West Indies captain Brian Lara will bid an emotional farewell to international cricket on Saturday when he plays his final match before retiring against England at Kensington Oval.

The last game of the World Cup Super Eights had looked to be a meaningless affair, with both sides having failed to make the semi-finals, but Lara's surprise decision to quit on Thursday has transformed the occasion.

England coach Duncan Fletcher will also stand down after Saturday's match following his team's disappointing campaign in the Caribbean.

A full house is expected at the Oval, which will be the venue for next week's final, and Lara, one of the greatest batsmen of the modern era, can expect a tremendous send-off from both home and visiting supporters.

The 37-year-old Trinidadian holds the record for the top Test score (400* Vs England) and highest in the first-class game (501* for Warwicks against Durham ).

He amassed 11,953 runs in 131 Tests and 10,387 runs in 298 one-day internationals.

The 400 not out was scored against Fletcher's England in Antigua in 2004. He also held the record in 1994 after scoring 375, again in Antigua and again against England

Lara had already announced he was quitting one-day internationals at the end of the World Cup but had been expected to lead the side on the tour of England which begins in May.

The left-hander seems determined to go out in style and it would be no surprise if he promoted himself back up the order to his old number three slot in order to give himself time to make his final knock one the crowd will long recall.

"I just want to be remembered as someone who went out there and tried to entertain," Lara said shortly before announcing his retirement following the win over Bangladesh on Thursday.

"It is a sport where people pay to come through the turnstiles and watch you and it is most important that someone can leave and say they have enjoyed watching Brian Lara play and enjoyed watching West Indies play."

West Indies will tour England after the World Cup and both sides will have a very different face to the one they will present on Saturday.

The World Cup hosts are likely to be led by Ramnaresh Sarwan, the favourite to replace Lara as captain, while England will be coached by former academy director Peter Moores.

Fletcher has been in charge nearly eight years but a dismal World Cup, which followed a 5-0 Ashes mauling by Australia, meant his position had become untenable.

Fletcher's finest moment came in 2005 when England beat old enemy Australia 2-1 at home to win the urn for the first time since 1987.

England may decide to give some of their fringe players a game on Saturday with bowlers Stuart Broad and Liam Plunkett and all-rounder Jamie Dalrymple coming into contention.

Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and South Africa have already qualified for the semi-finals of the seven-week long World Cup.


West Indies: Brian Lara (capt), Ramnaresh Sarwan, Chris Gayle, Dwayne Smith, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Dwayne Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Ian Bradshaw, Corey Collymore, Jerome Taylor, Denesh Ramdin, Devon Smith, Lendl Simmons, Daren Powell and Kieron Pollard. Coach: Bennett King.

England: Michael Vaughan (capt), James Anderson, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Paul Collingwood, James Dalrymple, Andrew Flintoff, Ed Joyce, Stuart Broad, Sajid Mahmood, Paul Nixon, Monty Panesar, Kevin Pietersen, Liam Plunkett and Andrew Strauss. Coach: Duncun Fletcher.


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