Sir Curtley Ambrose has lashed out at his former teammate Brian Lara for not giving his 100% and being a ‘egoistical’ cricketer on the field.
Ambrose, who took 405 wickets in 98 Tests for West Indies, specifically pointed out Lara’s attitude during the England’s tour in 1995, where the left-handed batsman thought about quitting the tour due to his personal issues with Richie Richardson, the Windies captain at that time. Lara didn’t support Richie’s captaincy to the fullest and the latter felt that he was undermining his leadership.
Here is an excerpt from Ambroses’ autobiography Time To Talk that describes the same:
“We were now seeking to rebound from the rarity of a series loss, to Australia (in 1995), though we were still confident of winning in England. There was just one problem. It turned out to be the most challenging and difficult tour I have ever been on in my entire career, especially in reference to the ridiculously long schedule.
“Our first game was 13 May and the last on 3 September 1995 after two games against Yorkshire at Scarborough – this after a six-Test series! Can you imagine how I felt after a long, tough series to be told we then had to go and play some cricket at Scarborough?
“The other challenging part of this trip centred on team disunity or, more to the point, Brian Lara’s conduct that was unattractive for a top international cricketer. We had some issues with the great Brian Lara starting back in the Caribbean in the Australia series. Actually, the problems were more between Brian and the captain Richie Richardson.
“A lot of people thought Brian wanted his job. I wasn’t sure but I sensed that Brian did not support Richie to the fullest. These issues that were hovering about the team became clearer in a meeting after the Jamaica Test against Australia, prior to going to England. Brian said he wasn’t in the mood to go to England and, again, it was my view that this was borne out of his feelings about Richie’s captaincy. So even though Brian did eventually tour there was friction and still some problems going on.
“This ongoing problem came to a head when Brian left the tour between the fourth Test in Manchester and the fifth in Nottingham. Richie is a laid-back guy and he can put up with a lot before he snaps but there came a point when he could not take any more with Brian. We had a team meeting in Taunton before the second three-day match against Somerset and he really chastised Brian for being ‘egotistical’.
“It was nothing to do with Brian’s batting – after all he had just smashed 87 and 145 at Old Trafford. But Richie felt Brian was undermining his leadership. Richie said he couldn’t deal with egotistical people and Brian really took it personally and said a few things back and walked out of the meeting. We didn’t know where he went but we learned that he had left the tour. He was AWOL for a few days.
“Discussions between Brian, the tour management and the WICB president Peter Short saw Brian return to the squad in time for the next match against Gloucestershire at Bristol. I wouldn’t want to speculate on the nature of those discussions but when the news came from the manager Wes Hall that Brian would be rejoining the team, most of the guys were not too happy, including me.
“We knew he was a great player and would make a significant difference to the team, but the manner of his walkout was grossly disrespectful to the captain and the team. I asked the manager, before Brian returned, whether he thought Brian would act differently when he came back.
“The manager’s answer was ‘I don’t think so’. I felt that he should not have been allowed to come back and the officials could have dealt with it at the end of the tour, back in the Caribbean. It seemed to me that in some people’s eyes Brian Lara was bigger than the team.
“This was another example of West Indies Cricket Board insularity and politics where decisions are made not on merit but on the strength of a guy’s reputation or the island where he comes from.
“I chastised him (Lara) for his attitude and about him not giving 100 per cent to the team and I started to swear. When I do that the guys know I have really had enough. I told him that he was a professional and he should behave like a professional. I said, ‘When you want to score runs you will score runs; these England bowlers cannot get you out when you are focused.’ I chastised him severely because I knew he had more to offer than the other batsmen.
“This is not personal against Brian Lara because we have always got along fine; I am speaking generally. If I had acted in the way that Brian had I would have expected to have been kicked off the tour and dealt with accordingly.”