Brian Lara is the source of inspiration for millions of aspiring cricketers around the world. In his Trinidad homeland he has demigod status. So for a bunch of Cayman Island junior cricketer s to not only meet their idol but get a guided tour by him of his fabulous house, it capped a memorable 10 days training in Port of Spain which they will be able to talk about in old age.
It happened to the Caymanian youngsters when they attended the Sir Frank Worrell Development Centre, a state-of-the-art complex which boasts world class indoor facilities and provided former Test players Bernard Julien, Raphick Jumadeen and Larry Gomes to coach them. They played two practice matches, winning one, quite a feat considering the high standards of the Trinidad game.
Sacha de Alwis was one of the wide-eyed youngsters who thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the camp. ‘It was great to be coached by legends like Bernard Julien,’ he said. ‘A great honour for us. From him I learnt how to bowl the swinging arm ball and he corrected my action a bit. Because he could bowl spin and fast as well as bat, he knew what he was talking about. Just being around the greats was inspiring.’
De Alwis will especially remember the Lara episode. ‘We were told we were going to see his house and when we got there we met him. I took a small stone from his garden and will keep it until the day I die. The house is impressive. It’s at the top of a hill on a big plot of land. He’s got a couple of houses there and we went to his main residence. The whole of the second floor is devoted to his memorabilia, including bats and paintings. He’s got a lot of golf clubs too because he enjoys playing.
‘The house is luxurious. It’s got a Jacuzzi, two connected swimming pools with a small dining table by the pools and I saw two cars, a new Range Rover Discovery and a Mercedes. He doesn’t have lots of flashy cars though, I suppose he doesn’t want to waste money. He’s very busy minded.
De Alwis, 15, was definitely inspired by meeting the world record holder for a Test innings. ‘Although he didn’t coach us, it’s inspired me to take cricket more seriously. You have to be really determined to make it in cricket these days. I’m a bit overweight and now I run on the beach, do crunches and weights. I was born in Epsom, England and came here aged two when my father got a job here as a hospital doctor. I’m now going to school in Sri Lanka and come to Cayman on vacation and I’d eventually like to play for Sri Lanka or Cayman.’
Paul Chin was also on the trip. He is a wicketkeeper and middle-order batsman currently studying marine biology at Essex University in England. A former Cayman Under-15 and 19 cricket captain, Chin, 21, was also impressed with the Lara experience. ‘It was overwhelming to visit him and see all that luxury,’ he said. ‘It goes to show how far determination and drive can take you. I’ve already enjoyed the benefits of cricketing taking me places like Trinidad twice, Bermuda twice, Jamaica and Grenada.
‘The facilities in Trinidad were outstanding. The indoor nets were something like I’ve never seen before. It even included accommodation! Having that sort of facility in the Cayman Islands would help the skills of the youngsters and further help the overall direction of the program.
‘Playing cricket in England has helped my development because it’s a totally different environment. The wickets are wetter, more grassy and you get a feel for the different surfaces. My aspirations in cricket include making it to the national senior level.’