It’s yet to be determined whether the series forms part of the new world Test championship, which by then will be into its second cycle. While the championship has been introduced in an attempt to add greater context, the scheduling is imbalanced and has left some observers baffled.
Come 2022, it will have been more than six years since Australia and the West Indies had battled for the Frank Worrell Trophy.
Lara, the batting stylist who emerged on the international scene in 1990 at the tail end of a dominant era that officially capsized five years later, has watched as West Indian cricket slipped into the abyss over the decades.
Lara was a key player in the West Indies’ 1992-93 series win in Australia. But while he would play the Australians at home or away every two years following, he did not enjoy another series win over the baggy green before his retirement in 2007.
We, as cricketers, haven’t helped that sort of situation.
Attempting to unite the island nations that form the West Indies cricket side has been no easy task. Player bickering and a lack of infrastructure and funding have been seen as reasons behind the team’s demise through the decades.
The West Indies were once world cricket’s poster boys, their almost annual presence here, complete with an unrivalled fast-bowling cartel, tormenting Australia, ruining careers and ultimately destroying the captaincy of Kim Hughes.
“Back in the day, in the ’70s and ’80s, they were the most sought-after teams. All the cricketing countries, we were the perennial favourites and people liked having us out here,” Lara said.
“The turnstiles benefited. Maybe not today but those were halcyon days in West Indies cricket when the Australians wanted us here every other year for the Benson & Hedges (tri-series) and Test matches. In England, it was the same sort of feeling.”
Lara, in Melbourne for a speaking engagement, said the West Indies largely had only themselves to blame for their predicament, where they now sit in eighth spot on the ICC’s official rankings.
“We, as cricketers, haven’t helped that sort of situation. If you are not that prominent sort of team, then you are going to suffer.
“Australia, England, India, South Africa they are the teams that move around in a circle and try and play each other as much as possible because they are the best.”
The West Indies Cricket Board has unveiled blueprints through the years in a bid to shake up the system but Lara has lamented a lack of progress. The West Indies have won two Twenty20 World Cups but Lara said this was through pure talent, where Test cricket required greater determination.
“A lot of our players play around the world and teams love having West Indians there and we have won a couple of World Cups, the talent is there,” he said.
“That sheer talent gets us through. But when you start talking about the longer version of the game, it needs a different plan. And I don’t believe we have that plan in place.
“We have the skill, we have the talent but I don’t think we have a plan on how we are going to get the present playing, the future group, the teenagers. How are we going to get them thinking about Test cricket?
“Until that plan is in place, you are going to have these spontaneous, erratic victories against top teams but generally the performances are going to be what it is – we are going to be losing more than we are winning.”
Jon Pierik is cricket writer for The Age. He also covers AFL and has won awards for his cricket and basketball writing.