Warwickshire cut links with Lara

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Warwickshire's dream liaison with Brian Lara is over. They parted, apparently forever, yesterday when the county champions released the prolific West Indian batsman from his three-year contract at Edgbaston.

The 26-year-old left-hander, who helped Warwickshire to an unprecedented treble in 1994, agreed the deal earlier this year but asked to be given next summer off to rest after his hectic schedule. The county reluctantly agreed, despite Allan Donald taking a job on their coaching staff, and have been linked to another South African paceman, Shaun Pollock, for next season.

Dennis Amiss, Warwickshire's chief executive, said the decision followed long talks with Lara. Amiss said: "When he said he didn't want to play in 1996, we could see his side of things. After two years of non-stop cricket, he couldn't face another season in England straight away. I think he understood our position for 1997 once Allan Donald had indicated that he would be available."

In 1994, Lara helped Warwickshire to the Championship, the Benson and Hedges Cup and the Sunday League titles. Lara ended with 2,066 first-class runs - including his world record 501 against Durham - averaging 89.92, but was replaced last season by Donald, because he was touring with the West Indies.