WEST Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite said legendary batsman Brian Lara has made an immediate impact by passing on his wealth of knowledge as the regional team aims to make a strong start in a two-match Test series against Zimbabwe, bowling off in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, at 4 am on Saturday (TT time).
Lara, who retired in 2007, was hired by Cricket West Indies on January 26 as a performance mentor for the West Indies international teams and is with the team in Zimbabwe. The former left-handed batsman will also have an input in the West Indies Academy, which mainly includes players under 25 years old.
Lara is regarded as one of the best batsmen world cricket has ever seen and he will be hoping the West Indies batsmen will continue the form they showed in a drawn warm-up match which ended on Sunday.
Brathwaite struck 116 not out off 170 balls before retiring and wicket-keeper Joshua Da Silva, who also retired, hit 100 not out off 149 balls. Roston Chase showed his quality with a brisk 87 not out off 93 deliveries. The trio guided West Indies to a mammoth 517/8 declared in the first innings.
Brathwaite said, "I thought he (Lara) has done a magnificent job. Obviously helping guys think about batting, think about plans a little more. I thought he has done a superb job. I think the guys learnt a lot thus far. It is just important to materialise these (suggestions) into the game and the guys are looking forward to the game."
Brathwaite said the batsmen have been picking Lara's brain in an effort to improve their game.
"I saw him having a lot of convos with batsmen during net sessions, so I think that knowledge was passed on. It is obviously important that we apply the thought process of batting, obviously batting for long periods. It is important that we don't forget about these key points he would have touched on...
"I think the guys got some very good info from the legend and the guys look forward to going out there and doing it and obviously performing, that is key."
The West Indies skipper said the build-up was beneficial. "Preparation has gone really well. Really liked how the guys applied themselves in the practice game we had as well. The guys are looking forward to the first Test tomorrow. I think we are in a very good space."
This will be the first series for West Indies under interim head coach Andre Coley. The last assignment for former coach Phil Simmons was a two-match Test series against Australia which ended in December in Australia. Australia won 2-0.
The team has also welcomed the return of TT fast bowler Shannon Gabriel who has been out of West Indies colours for more than one year.