/ 2 April 2007

Angry West Indies fans call for Lara’s sacking

Irate West Indies fans called for captain Brian Lara to be sacked following the team’s third consecutive defeat in the Super Eights of the World Cup on Sunday.

After Sri Lanka trounced the home team by 113 runs in Guyana, many fans drowned their sorrows with a traditional glass of rum in the Barbados capital Bridgetown, which will hold the final of the seven-week tournament on April 28.

The defeat was likely to spell the West Indies’ eventual exit from the tournament before the semifinals.

They have three more second-stage matches to play against South Africa, Bangladesh and England and must win them all to stand any chance of progressing.

Lindon Albert watched the game in an inner-city bar and joined friends in calling for Lara’s removal as captain of the host team.

”What we are getting is simply not good enough,” he told Reuters. ”I don’t see them [West Indies] winning another game. This is over for us.”

He turned his anger towards 37-year-old Lara, who holds the records for highest Test and first-class individual scores, and said he should give up the game.

”Lara should go, he should retire from the game. He is a great batsman but his leadership is weak.”

Also in the bar watching the match on a small television was Timothy Daniel, a 54-year-old die-hard West Indies supporter.

”In all my days I’ve never seen us as bad as this. We can’t take this any more,” he shouted across the room. ”Time for a change … We have to get rid of Lara. He looks lost … he looks rusty.”

Rarely threatened

The West Indies won the first two editions of the World Cup in 1975 and 1979 but have rarely threatened to win a third since losing the 1982 final to India.

They topped Group D in this tournament, the first to be played in the Caribbean, but have heavily lost second-stage matches to Australia, New Zealand and now Sri Lanka.

Mary Vaughan blamed the recent war of words between Lara and selector Andy Roberts, the former West Indies fast bowler, for unsettling the team ahead of Sunday’s match.

”There is too much shuffling in the team and the team is clearly unsettled,” she said. ”What happened between Lara and Roberts was a shame and they have to look at themselves and see if their actions made sense.”

Roberts criticised the selection of the team, sparking Lara’s ire at a post-match news conference.

At Brown’s Beach outside the city, some fans splashed in the Caribbean while other sat on the shore listening to the commentary on radios.

”Another rough ride,” said Sean Clarke, ”I’m not surprised. I sort of expected us to lose. We’re not a strong team.”

Rommelle Hillaire blasted the entire team and called for change. ”From Lara at the top to all the others at the bottom, they have to go,” he said.

Tens of millions of dollars have been spent upgrading and building new stadiums for the tournament, including the Kensington Oval just outside Bridgetown which will stage the final.

No host nation has ever won the World Cup which is being held for the ninth time. – Reuters