Struggle to heal rift over Lara

TONY COZIER reports from Bridgetown, Barbados
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The Independent Online

reports from Bridgetown, Barbados

The West Indies Cricket Board of Control spent over seven hours yesterday trying to find a way back into their team for their most valuable player, Brian Lara. Up to late evening it was still not clear whether they had as officals worked on what was bound to be a delicate press statement.

The difficulties facing the splintered organisation over its latest and perhaps gravest crisis were emphasised in contrasting statements from members just before the meeting. While the CBC president, Peter Short, said he had "every hope and expectation" that Lara would be with the West Indies for the World Cup in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka next February and March, Jamaica's representative, Maurice Foster, made it plain he did not share such sentiments.

"I certainly feel, like many people, that Brian Lara is acting like a spoiled brat," Foster, the former West Indies Test batsman, said. "He feels that because he is Brian Lara he should be allowed to do certain things."

The board were discussing was Lara's late withdrawal from the team currently in Australia after he had been fined 10 per cent of his fee for abandoning last summer's tour of England after the fourth Test.

Only Short's persuasion brought him back, Lara gaining the impression that the matter had thus been settled. When he was fined for it almost three months after the tour, he opted out of the team for Australia two days before its departure and refused to change his mind inspite of Short's pleadings.

Alloy Lequay, head of the Trinidad and Tobago board that has staunchly supported its most famous son of the soil in the controversy, said he was carrying a plan to the meeting that he felt would be to the satisfaction of "nearly everybody".

He gave no hint of what it contained and it needed to be cleverly conceived to have achieved its objective.