|Event:||ICC World Cup 2006/07|
DateLine: 20th April 2007
West Indies captain Brian Lara will bring the curtain down on his 17-year, record-breaking, international career on Saturday, ending speculation over his future following his team's dismal World Cup campaign.
"I have given this extensive consideration. I just want everybody to know that on Saturday I am bidding farewell to international cricket as a player," Lara said after his team's 99-run win over Bangladesh in a Super Eights game here on Thursday.
"I have already spoken to the board and my players."
The announcement means Lara will not be part of the West Indies team for next month's tour of England paving the way for vice-captain Ramnaresh Sarwan to take over the reins.
The 37-year-old Lara, who made his debut in 1990, played 131 Tests, scoring 11,953 runs with 34 centuries. He holds the world record Test score of 400 not out.
Lara has also played 298 one-day internationals, scoring 10,387 runs.
"I want to be remembered as a batsman who provided entertainment to the fans and in adversity tried my best to perform," said Lara whose last match will be at the Kensington Oval here when the West Indies play their final World Cup game against England.
Lara, who turns 38 on May 2, had already announced that he would retire from one-day cricket.
He was in his third stint as West Indies captain and had become the subject of much criticism for the team's lacklustre performances in the World Cup where they failed to reach the semi-finals.
He had also been in conflict in recent years with the West Indies Cricket Board over selection matters, contracts and personal sponsorship deals.
When asked if he got support as captain, Lara replied: "It's not the time to criticise, it's not the time, it's done and gone. I won't dwell over spilt milk. I wanted to play my 300th one-dayer but it didn't happen, so be it."
Lara said every career comes to an end.
"I toiled for West Indies cricket and some point in time it had to come to an end. I am proud of myself and my strength came from my parents who made me able to pick myself up when needed."
Lara said he would be happy to help West Indies cricket in future.
"At any point in time if they need me to make a contribution outside the playing field, I am willing to help. I played with some great players and whenever it's time to pay back, I will be there."
This was Lara's fifth World Cup but the West Indies have only once reached the last four during his career when they were beaten by Australia in Mohali in 1996.
Lara denied that contract negotiations, which were still going on when the tournament started, had affected the West Indian performance.
"We've got a players association and a West Indies cricket board," he said last week.
"These matters are handled at that level by people who are astute enough to understand the delicate situation. We are just the players.
"Whatever the situation, when we go on the cricket field we try our best. I know the disappointment of the cricket fans. I am sad that we have disappointed the Caribbean and our supporters around the world."
West Indies started the World Cup in impressive style winning all three of their first round matches but then fell to pieces in the Super Eights where they lost to Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and South Africa.
One of Lara's greatest supporters, Sir Garfield Sobers, had insisted Lara was not the reason behind the team's recent troubles.
"As far as the West Indies team is concerned, Brian Lara as a captain and all the comments that have been made sometimes people don't look at the facts," said Sobers.
"The facts are that the West Indies in the last two and a half years have had a tremendous amount of problems.
"One, the West Indies Board didn't have enough money to have enough camps. Two, there were always problems with not being able to field a strong West Indies team, there were strikes and there were all kinds of problems.
"And to build a house, if you don't have a solid foundation and you build a house, you are going to have problems later on. And I think this is where the problems are stemming from.
"People don't seem to realise this and there are all kinds of calls for this and calls for that, which I think is being over done by lots of people."
(Article: Copyright © 2007 AFP)