Cricket: McGrath makes Lara the target

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The Independent Online
GLENN McGRATH, Australia's leading fast bowler, plans to target Brian Lara as a means of further destabilising the West Indies in the forthcoming Test series.

The under-fire West Indian captain is anxious to lift his side after the disastrous 5-0 series whitewash in South Africa - but McGrath is aiming to inflict further misery on Lara.

"I try to target the best batsman in the team and/or the captain," said McGrath, part of a 15-man touring party which left Sydney for the Caribbean yesterday. "If you can knock the captain over cheaply, then it puts a few negative thoughts into his head as well and it can have an effect on the rest of the team. Brian Lara is still a key to their batting, so I'll be trying to knock him over."

McGrath has claimed the wicket of Lara seven times in nine Tests and is looking to increase his Test tally of 202 wickets at an average of 23.44. He successfully employed the same strategy in the recent Ashes series win, when he demoralised England's key batsman and former captain, Mike Atherton.

McGrath added that the last tour to the West Indies in 1995 - when Australia won in the Caribbean for the first time since 1973 - was a turning point in his career. The efforts of Australia's most potent strike weapon will again be crucial if the tourists are to record successive series wins there, and their third straight series win over the once invincible West Indies.

However, the new Australian captain, Steve Waugh, warned that the West Indies would be tough to beat on their home pitches. "Whilst they didn't have a good tour of South Africa, they pride themselves on playing well in front of a home crowd," he said. "They will be wanting to put up a good show." The four-Test series starts at the beginning of March.