Lara: ‘This is the end of my career’

West Indies captain Brian Lara will retire from the one-day game in the wake of his side’s miserable World Cup campaign.

The 37-year-old record-breaking batsman confirmed that his last two games will be the Super Eights clashes against Bangladesh and England in Barbados on April 19 and 21.

His decision came in the wake of his team’s 67-run defeat to South Africa on Tuesday, which left the hosts with virtually no chance of reaching the semifinals.

”I think this is the end of my one-day career, for sure,” said Lara. ”I honestly feel that my game is over and we should give it to one of the younger players. It’s really tough playing one-day internationals out there when you are 37, 38 years old.

”After the World Cup the next one-day tournament for the West Indies is in England, and I’d love to sit back and watch and see the team do well.

”I want to leave a team that play better. And that is still my hope. These might be my last two one-day internationals, but I still want to see the team moving out of this competition learning something from it, and that’s all I can hope for.

”It’s demoralising, yes, but I want to see certain things happen and I want to see the team move on.”

The West Indies crashed to their fourth successive Super Eights loss, which left them on two points and needing a miraculous series of results to allow them to creep into the semifinals.

Lara, in his third term as skipper, has been under fire throughout the tournament with a host of former players and pundits calling for him to stand down as captain.

He has played 297 one-day internationals and scored 10 354 runs at 40.60 with 19 hundreds and 63 half-centuries.

After four successive defeats in the Super Eights, Lara felt compelled to apologise to the Caribbean fans. ”We are all disappointed and we are very sorry for the way we have performed in this World Cup,” said Lara. ”All we can say is that we are sorry to our people.

”There will be no semifinal place for us, but we have to play with pride and character in the next two games. It’s a chance to show we can perform with pride and character.”

The West Indies qualified for the Super Eights with three wins in three matches in the first round, which included a victory against Pakistan. ”We beat Pakistan with disciplined bowling and fielding,” said Lara. ”We weren’t as convincing as maybe we should have been. But we are ranked eighth in the world, so we were the underdogs. However, we expected to do better than we did.”

South Africa captain Graeme Smith, whose side piled up 356 after being put into bat by West Indies, paid tribute to Lara.

”It’s sad to see him go,” said Smith. ”He’s been an unbelievable performer for the West Indies and has got them out of trouble plenty of times. He has been a great servant to the team and I hope the West Indies give him a great send-off in the last two matches.” — Sapa-AFP

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