You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

It’s wrong to compare Tendulkar and Kohli: Lara

Gulf News logo Gulf News 29-01-2017 Syndigate.info

Dubai. Legendary batsman Brian Lara’s views on cricket is as clean as his shots. Known for his candid opinions, it’s always a treat to listen to him on the hottest topics surrounding cricket. During an interaction with Gulf News, the former West Indies batting great, who is here to launch the Masters Champions League Cricket Academy, spoke at length about various issues. While he was not in favour of comparing any players, he had high regards for Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who relinquished his captaincy recently.

Excerpts

GULF NEWS: Many are now comparing Virat Kohli with Sachin Tendulkar. Since it is a debate in the cricket world today what is your take on it?

First of all, I don’t compare players. I think Tendulkar during his era was the greatest player that had ever played. Similarly you can talk about Viv Richards and Sunil Gavaskar and further down to Garfield Sobers. Why would I want to compare them? I just appreciate the fact that what Kohli is bringing to cricket these days is something that everybody loves to watch. Similarly AB de Villiers and Joe Root too are bringing something special to the game. That is how I see it. I would hate to be put in a position to place one above the other.

Dhoni has stepped down as India captain. How do you rate him as a captain and his qualities?

Dhoni has done great for Indian cricket as a captain and led the team very well. He seemed to have inspired everyone especially the players around him, something which I couldn’t do with the West Indies cricket team. So Kudos to him. It is indeed tremendous of him to have won some many cups and hopefully Kohli can take the reign and carry it forward.

Now that there is so much of Twenty20 cricket, do you think one-day cricket may also suffer on the long run?

I hope none of the forms of the game suffer. They are all different and bring some uniqueness to the game. Of course T20 is here to stay. There is room for all but it is important to make it competitive in each and every series. What is dangerous is like it happened in the recent Test series between Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka where there was no spectator in the ground. For five days to have more security guards than fans on the ground was very disappointing. I hate to lose any format of the game that I have played.

So do you think day-night cricket is the answer to it and do you think it will bring people to Test cricket?

Night Test cricket is one of the answers. Today in 70 to 80 per cent of Test matches there are results but we are competing against people’s time. I don’t think the sport is competing is against each format. It’s not 50 over versus T20 or versus Test cricket. Today people have a lot of things to do and wouldn’t be able to watch five days of cricket like they did long time ago. There is lot more action in the world; there is lot more things to keep people busy.

Stars like Tendulkar and yourself did play a role in bringing players to the ground? Do you think absence of top class players could be one reason for poor turnout?

We are examples. A guy like Sachin Tendulkar did it 25 years for India. He inspired many generations and continues to do so through his records. Bringing cricket to youngsters from a very early age is important. To avoid an empty ground like during the Zimbabwe versus Sri Lanka match one needs to bring school kids to cricket ground. I encourage it because I enjoyed my days when I was young. I had the opportunity to go to the Oval and watch the West Indies play. I did not have to pay any money and that opportunity was inspiring.

Do you think the standard of cricket has gone down since the retirement of some of the great players?

I don’t think so. I think it is has gone up, maybe the pitches are a little more batsmen-friendly and the bats have become better and guys are inside edging balls to sixes. But I think the game has grown. We have to make this sport very appealing. You have to make this sport more attractive to go and watch. I don’t believe the standards are dropping because I believe that the cricketers now are fitter and they have a lot more shots. Maybe the pitches could be made a little more sporting to really see the real champions come out. It is an interesting time in world cricket. The invincibility that Australians had in the last 15 to 20 years and West Indies dominance in the 70s and 80s have all ended. Now cricket is a lot more competitive, which is really good for the sport.

How important is coaching in shaping a cricketer?

Coaching is very important from the very beginning for youngsters to get them to the right habits. You may have naturally talented and gifted kids and they may not need much help. There will be lot of youngsters who will appreciate coaching and they will grow with it and later become very good players for the future.

Is it important for youngsters to be learning from past cricketers? Was it helpful for you?

Yes, former cricketers play an important part. I remember from my early age travelling with players like Gus Logie and Viv Richards and some of the great players that represented West Indies. The youngsters here in the UAE have an opportunity because lots of international cricketers come here to help. The MCL Cricket Academy itself will be helpful in this aspect because you may find some great players come here to interact and inspire the youngsters.

So many children look up to you as role model? Why haven’t you taken up coaching?

In terms of being a professional coach, that is not something I want to do seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. I think I am playing my part in a small little way I can.

Why haven’t you also taken up a position in West Indies Cricket board?

I am not very good at politics. It’s very simple as that.

More from Gulf News

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon