Former West Indies captain Brian Lara lifted the ICC World Twenty20 trophy in Trinidad on Sunday and then admitted it was tough to pick a side that might do the same on 21 June at Lord’s.
But if he had to choose a likely winner the batting legend said the finalists in the inaugural event in 2007, India and Pakistan, might be the ones to look out for because of their batting strength and an ability to innovate.
Lara displayed the trophy to a packed house at the Queen’s Park Oval during the interval of the T20 International between the West Indies and England, part of the promotion of June’s event that will take place in England.
And afterwards he said: “It was a great feeling to pick up the trophy before the winning captain and nice to be part of the build-up but, as for picking a winner, it’s very hard to predict as in twenty20 cricket you never know what will happen.
“In 2007 I supported the West Indies (to win) due to the fact that, as a team, we may have been short in Test cricket but very good over a shorter game and Twenty20 was a version of the game, with players like Chris Gayle, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Dwayne Bravo, I thought we would love.
“But then Bangladesh came and beat us and we didn’t win a match so that shows how difficult it is to predict. A team like India or Pakistan, accustomed to good batting tracks, flat tracks and capable of being very innovative could be the ones to walk away with the trophy,” said Lara.
Two years into his retirement from top-line cricket, Lara remains the holder of the highest score in international history thanks to his 400 not out in a Test against England in Antigua in 2004.
And although he said he still loved Test cricket above all the other formats of the game, he also agreed there was an obvious place for the Twenty20 version.
“I’m still a connoisseur of Test cricket as the true test of any sportsman,” he said. “But I think Twenty20 cricket is a great invention, especially for the spectator. It’s a great addition to the game and I look forward to seeing the ICC World Twenty20.”
Lara also reflected on what it was like to lift silverware at an ICC event, having done that in the 2004 ICC Champions Trophy when the West Indies produced a remarkable come-from-behind success in the final against England at The Oval.
“It was a great feeling and this from a captain not accustomed to winning anything,” he said.
“We’d just lost four Tests against England and then came back from deep trouble in the final when we were seven or eight wickets down late on.
“Courtney Browne and Ian Bradshaw were able to pull it off for us and that was an excellent feeling.
“I’ve never done it (lifted the trophy) in a World Cup but to play against all the other international countries in one tournament and win was a great feeling and definitely one of the greatest moments of my career,” he added.