Port of Spain (Trinidad): West Indies batting legend Brian Lara wants to see the likes of Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo return to the team for next month's triangular series involving Australia and South Africa. Both players have been overlooked by selectors for ODIs since the controversial abandoned tour of India in 2014, but Lara said having them involved in Twenty20 Internationals alone was a backward step.
"In terms of the tri-nation, I think it's going to be a pretty exciting series. And hopefully, we can have the likes of Pollard and Bravo — some guys who have not played that form of the game (recently) back in the team, because they are integral to any West Indies team. Just having them for the T20 version I think is doing a disservice to West Indies cricket," he said.
The non-selection of Pollard and Bravo has resulted in controversy over the last year, and was at the heart of an outburst by West Indies coach Phil Simmons, who claimed there was "outside influence" on selectors, in keeping them out of the squad.
Bravo is a veteran of 164 ODIs, and is just 32 runs short of 3000 runs and one wicket shy of 200 scalps in the format. Pollard, meanwhile, has struck three centuries in 91 ODIs, and taken 44 wickets with his slow medium pace bowling. Under the West Indies Cricket Board regulations, neither player is eligible for the tournament after failing to participate in January's Regional Super50.
The tri-nations series, which runs from June 3-26 in Guyana, St Kitts and Nevis and Barbados, will act as a precursor to a four-Test series against India, starting in July.
Lara, who plundered 11,953 runs from 131 Tests, believes the West Indies will have to be at their best against an in-form India side, despite having the home advantage. "You saw their (India) performances against Australia…and not just in India but also playing away from home, there have been great performances,” Lara noted. "I do believe that playing in home conditions is a slight advantage. I'm hoping that Phil Simmons is doing his homework (and) getting his players ready to play good Test cricket. West Indians are not too disappointed if we are defeated playing hard cricket. I think what is very disappointing is when the team falls apart and we look like we don’t know anything about cricket at all.
The West Indies are coming off their capture of the World Twenty20 in India last month, where they beat England in the final to win the tournament for the second time in four years. Lara, who finished with 34 Test hundreds and the records for the highest Test and first class scores, said the West Indies players now needed to transform the same level of enthusiasm from T20s into the Test arena. "If we can get the guys playing the longer version of the game with the same sort of exuberance, with the same sort of fight, it would be better, but it's not in us. The skill is there but that sort of attrition level, that willingness to stay out there and play cricket for five days and beat the opposition on the fifth afternoon, it's not in our cricketers. We need to bring that back," he added.