A Legend Returns

18 04 2010

Very surprising news has surfaced this weekend, with the announcement that Brian Lara will be signing for Surrey to play in their 20/20 campaign this Summer. This news has elicited mixed reactions from us at the Compulsive Hooker, with excitement at seeing the great man play once more mingling with concern that he will tarnish his enormous reputation.

Lara, although he seems to be a player from very recent cricketing history, is actually a dinosaur in that he came from the pre 20/20 cricketing age. Having played his last test match in 2006, he missed the explosion in popularity of 20/20 cricket in the game by only a short while, and now being almost 41, it will be interesting to see how he goes. During his pomp Lara was a breathtaking player, having the ability to hit good balls almost anywhere that he wanted when set, and like the current greats of Tendulkar, Sehwag, Kallis etc, surely he would have been a masterful exponent of the shortest form of the game. The prospect of him seeing him play 20/20 is therefore potentially a mouth watering one.

Lara himself is always going to be the best judge as to whether a comeback is a good idea or not, and we hope for his sake that he is making the correct decision. There are many examples of legends returning to their chosen sport, only to see it go wrong. Possibly a current example unfolding before our eyes is Michael Schumacher’s attempts in Formula 1, although he does have the mitigating factor of an arguably less good car than his rivals. Lara, on the other hand, can hardly blame his bat if he doesn’t score any runs….

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There have been a host of strange overseas signings in the past few weeks, Lara being just one of them. At least with the great man you can at least partially understand the logic. Other signings include Elton Chigumbura of Zimbabwe who is going to Northamptonshire and Tino Best of the West Indies who has signed for Yorkshire. Chigumbura is known probably only to the most avid of international cricket followers, and to tell the truth is a handy cricketer, one of the few who regularly pull Zimbabwe out of the doldrums with a fighting 60 from numbr 7 or 8, yet we are doubtful he has the quality to be a star overseas player. Tino Best of course is known mostly, not from any exploits with ball in hand, but from being ‘sledged’ out by Freddie Flintoff in a test match at Lords. Flintoff’s ‘mind the windows, Tino’ winding the Barbadian up so much he was promptly dismissed.

Admittedly the IPL and Indian board’s intransigent and slightly, it appears, revengeful attitude to the ECB’s decision to not alter the County Championship schedule so it does not clash with the 20/20 Champions League, mean that perhaps there are less high quality players available. Yet, it seems to us, a sad indictment of our County Game when players such as these are being signed. Surely Yorkshire and Northamptonshire have homegrown players who, at least, have the potential to be as good as these two?

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