Lara, 54, smacks 90mph balls in masterclass on facing Starc, Cummins, Hazlewood | Cricket

West Indies’ batters were caught out completely by the quality of Australia’s pace attack in the first Test in Adelaide, eventually losing the match by 10 wickets inside three days. Captain Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood both picked four wickets while Mitchell Starc took one as Australia bowled West Indies out for 188 in the first innings. Hazlewood then picked five wickets in the second and bowled the opposition out for 120, thus setting up a meagre 26-run target for Australia to chase.

Brian Lara faced some of the most extraordinary pace attacks of his time(Action Images)

The fast bowling trio of Hazlewood, Starc and Cummins has been widely rated among the greatest of all time in Test cricket and West Indies batting great and former captain Brian Lara gave a demonstration of how he would deal with pace bowling of that quality. Lara is part of the commentary team for Fox Cricket and gave a masterclass during day 2 of the match in an indoor nets session that was designed to replicate the Australian fast bowlers. The 54-year-old showed that he has still got it, cracking cover drives despite the ball being bowled at nearly 90mph.

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“What I do a little bit of is premeditate,” Lara said when asked about how difficult it is to drive balls being bowled at such high speed. “So I would premeditate the next delivery, what I think he is going to deliver. If he doesn’t, it doesn’t mean that I am going to play a drive to a short ball. I’ll just adjust myself.

“But if I am reading the bowler, reading what he is coming with, I am doing a bit of premeditating. So if that half volley comes at 90 miles an hour, I am still getting into position quickly.”

‘It’s a mental war’

Lara scored 11,953 runs at an average of 52.88 in 131 Tests with 34 centuries and 48 fifties. In ODIs, he scored 10,405 runs at an average of 40.48 in 299 matches with 19 centuries and 63 half-centuries. He faced some of the most extraordinary pace attacks of his time. Apart from having to face Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose in the nets, his playing days coincided with the likes of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar steaming in for Pakistan, Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie and Brett Lee for Australia and Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock for South Africa. He said that it tends to be a mental battle against some of the great pacers.

“I think it’s a mental war, and you can tell what a guy’s going to do with the ball in his hand. If there’s a Brett Lee bowling, you know there’s going to be a couple of short balls. He’s going to come searching for gold. So I think it’s that mental battle and understanding and trying to predict what he’s thinking of, is important to me.

“I find it very difficult to just play each ball in it’s merit. You will eventually do that, but I think when you’re playing against world-class bowlers, a Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, you tend to know what these guys are trying to do to set you up,” said Lara.

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