Kolkata: West Indian batting legend Brian Lara Sunday lamented that he could never play a Test match at the historic Eden Gardens and made a suggestion to CAB officials that if a veterans match, including Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly, could be organised here in the future.
Lara was here on a special invitation from the CAB to watch the last two days of the first Test between India and the West Indies, which however got over in three days with the hosts emerging comfortable winners.
"Lara lamented that he has not played any Test at the majestic Eden Gardens. He suggested us to organise an exhibition cricket match for the veterans involving himself and the Indian duo of Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly," CAB treasurer Biswarup Dey said.
Lara said what Sachin Tendulkar is to cricket, Michael Jordan is to basketball and Mohammad Ali to boxing and suggested that the Indian batsman should try scoring 400 in his last Test match.
"In terms of statistics, some may come close to him, but in sports there are some individuals who stand apart. When you talk of boxing, you talk of Mohammad Ali; when you mention basketball, you mention Michael Jordan; and when you talk cricket, you talk about Sachin Tendulkar," Lara said during a Cricket Association of Bengal-organised event here.
"In a lighter vein he told us to prepare a 'batting-friendly' so that Tendulkar would score 200-plus runs, Ganguly 150 and 100-odd runs for him... It was unfortunate that he could not watch the Test match here but he was very happy to be here." During his glittering 16-year international career, Lara has played three ODIs at the Eden but has never been part of a Test match.
Lara also went to the dressing rooms and appeared emotional. "With no match, and today being a Sunday, we're closed. But he's so kind that he wanted to come and see Eden Gardens. It's a memorable day for Bengal cricket." Lara, accompanied by a friend, spent about 15 minutes at the ground, had look at the pitch and was happy to oblige the Cricket Association of Bengal officials and the Eden groundsmen with photo-ops.
Forced to alter his plans after India's quick win, Lara last night asked the CAB to take him to the Mother House. "He paid his tribute to Mother Teresa spending some time at the Mother House on AJC Bose Road. "We also took him to the ancestral house of Swami Vivekananda on Simla Street in north Kolkata," Dey added.
The CAB was overwhelmed to see Lara's knowledge about the city. "Honestly, I never had an opportunity to meet the great Brian Lara. I always knew him as a great cricketer. But today I found that he has got good knowledge about Kolkata and Indian culture.
"He knew that every year we observe a blood donation camp in the name of Sir Frank Worrell who had saved Nari Contractor's life by donating blood (in the 1961-62 tour to the Caribbean islands)." Lara also posed for shutterbugs near the wax statue of Tendulkar at the Eden Gardens. Lara is slated to meet Ganguly during a talk show being organised by the CAB.
Lara also said that Caribbean cricket is in "quagmire" and will remain so if corrective measures are not immediately taken up. "We have not put in the infrastructure that's necessary. We relied on the fact that the greats like Viv Richards and Joel Garner came from nowhere. Rest of the world went into technology and academies but we did nothing. We still have not anything to prepare for future," Lara said.
"Until we do something I'm still seeing five or 10 years to make that happen. We're just going to be in the quagmire, beating some teams win some occasional series wins here and there, win the T20 World Cup, but we're not going to put it together to have a consistent side. Unless we make some firm decision and sort out at grass levels, we're going to be in quagmire," he said.