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Lara backs Australia to pile on pressure

Brian Lara has plenty to keep him occupied right now, including a return to the crease, a foray into the world of coaching and a long-distance observer’s interest in the latest attempt by West Indies cricket to recapture past glories. But one of the game’s greatest-ever batsmen is not too busy to spare a few thoughts on what might happen Down Under over the next few weeks. Perhaps the fact that he took 775 Test runs off their bowlers in two world record innings has something to do with it, but Lara clearly has a soft spot for England. And yet, while his heart says that Andrew Strauss’ team will successfully defend the Ashes this winter, his head tells him Australia are favourites to recapture that little urn.

Everyone in cricket has an opinion on what may happen once the phoney war ends this week – and a majority of pundits on this side of the world seem to think an away win is more probable than possible. For Lara, though, home advantage appears to be the crucial factor. “Englishmen might not like this but I believe that if you put a horse through tough races and then bring him back to conditions he likes, he is going to excel once more,” said the 41-year-old former West Indies captain on a brief visit to London, where he was singing the praises of T&T as tourist destinations. Like almost everyone, Lara believes Graeme Swann can be a big weapon for the visitors and, for that reason, he assumes Australia will hope to make the series a battle of the pace bowlers. (The Independant)


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