A lot has changed since he left cricket, especially with the emergence of T20, but there is nothing that Lara misses about the cricket field.
“I don’t miss playing cricket at all. I played for 17 years and retired at a time when I wanted to. I have never missed a day of cricket since then,” he told TOI in an exclusive chat on the sidelines of Krishnapatnam Port 4th Golden Eagles golf championship on Saturday.
Although the former Trinidad & Tobago player has stopped playing the game, he “still watches it closely” and feels the Virat Kohli led Indian side can have an upper hand in their tour Down Under, if they play their cards well.
“I think it is going to be an interesting series. Obviously, Australia is going to fight a bit as India is playing very good cricket,” he said.
“But their ‘away’ record is something they have to worry about. If they break the game down into different pieces and understand where they are strong and need to be strong, they can work things out,” Lara added.
The Australian cricket team has been on the backfoot since the ‘ball-tampering’ saga. Although the issue involving Steve Smith and David Warner became one of the biggest controversies of the modern cricket has witnessed, Lara feels tampering the ball has there since years.
“There might be recent occurrences, but ball-tampering has been there since long. If you go and check the history, there have been a lot of people who have been punished for different acts (of tampering). It happens in the game and it looks bad if someone is caught, but I don’t believe when anyone says it is something not pretty prevalent in the game,” the former WI skipper Lara, 49, said.
When asked whether the bans on Smith and Warner be reduced, he said: “I have no opinion on the ban.”
When the left-hander retired, T20 was still a version that needed upgrades. But Lara feels the shorter format has surpassed the Test cricket in terms of popularity and young West Indies players preferring franchise T20 cricket over Tests is enough to prove the popularity of the shorter version.
“It is always going to be tough (T20 vs Tests) because Test cricket on the whole has taken a backseat. T20 is the more exciting version of the game and the ICC can maybe continue their talks about having a Test league to make it more relevant to play against all countries,” he said.
“Right now there are only a few series that are interesting for the public and there are some that are not even good for the players. Even during my days, people who would shy away from going to a particular country never hesitated from going to Australia or England or any other bigger nation. Now I believe that if we have a championship, it will make all Tests relevant. I would never try to take away anything from The Ashes, it has a historic relevance and has to be kept,” said the batsman, who has 11,953 runs in the longer format. Lara never played international T20s.