Sourav Ganguly is my favourite Indian captain: Lara
Among all the Indian captains that he has played against, Sourav Ganguly is the "favourite" of West Indian batting legend and former skipper Brian Lara as he feels his leadership against arch-rivals Australia was "astonishing".
"Sourav is my favourite. His leadership against Australia in Australia was astonishing. I have great respect for him," Lara said at a Dell event on leadership. He also praised Kapil Dev and "good friend" Sachin Tendulkar for their leadership qualities.
"In 1983 West Indies were dominating and I thought it would be cake walk for them in the final. So I went out to play only to come and know that India won, which was a surprise and Kapil Dev as a leader had a lot of role to play," he said.
"Then there is my friend Sachin Tendulkar, what he has done for cricket, it can't be repeated. His contribution to Indian cricket and world cricket is immeasurable," he added.
'Dhoni is a great listener'
On Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni's captaincy, Lara said, "I spoke to Dwayne Bravo about Dhoni, how he was as a leader while they played together for CSK. He told me one of his key strengths is that he is a great listener. Bravo told me how he sets goals but always looks for ideas and commitment from his players."
Lara took a stroll down memory lane as he recalled his his initial days and how he used a coconut branch as his first bat.
"My first bat was shaped out of a coconut branch by my brother. And from that day, all I wanted to do was to be a West Indian cricketer.
"I would play cricket by myself in the yard and the team would be (Gordon) Greenidge, (Desmond) Haynes, (Vivian) Richards, Lara. From a very early age, I saw myself as a West Indies cricketer and nothing else," Lara said.
'My biggest motivation has been my team mates'
The West Indies batting great also said his teammates were his biggest motivators and dismissed his critics' claims that he played for himself.
"A lot of media and people said a lot of success was individual. How wrong could that be. My biggest motivation in life has been my team mates. Playing within the team is what motivated me.
"My performances might have led to individual praise but for me playing within the team was the best thing that ever happened to me. I believe a team is a sum of individuals and each individual is depended on each other," he said.
"The 400 I scored was at a time when England was leading 3-0 in the series in West Indies, with one Test match to go. Drawing that Test match was more important than anything else. We got to 750. Some people said we batted too long," he added.
'I believe most records are destiny'
The Trinidadian said he would gladly give his records away to be part of the successful West Indies team who dominated the sport in 70s and 80s.
"I believe most records are destiny. In terms of 375 and 400, in terms of when they were scored and the way they were scored, I believe it was because of destiny. I would give any record away for success. If I played in a successful West Indies team, say for instance in the 70s and 80s, when we won for 15 straight years, I would give away any record for that," Lara said.
The 44-year old said he relished challenges and preferred to come onto bat when the chips were down.
"I love challenge. When the score was 300 for 2, I didn't like to bat. I liked to bat at 20 for 3. When the opposition tail is up and I am going with my back against the wall. I relished those occasions. I believe when you show true character under adverse situation, is when you become a true man," he said.
'Pre-game is where I do a lot of my hard work'
Lara said he got nervous before going into bat but used to work hard at the nets to be prepared for any situation that might arise.
"Like most sportsmen, I am very nervous before I go on to bat. I think that is something shared by a lot of the top sportsmen around the world. If someone is not nervous,
"I am not sure what sport they are involved in. Pre-game is where I do a lot of my hard work," he said.
"I worked as hard as possible on my game in the nets. I trained. Michael Jordon trained so hard that when he got to the game, he was on cruise control. And I felt the same way when I put myself through tougher things and got into the middle," he added.