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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 September, 2004, 15:53 GMT 16:53 UK
Changes as good as a rest
By Martin Gough
BBC Sport at the Rose Bowl

Corey Collymore and Shivnarine Chanderpaul
Corey Collymore (left) polished off Pakistan's tail at the Rose Bowl
West Indies captain Brian Lara shrugs off suggestions that it is too cold for cricket as the ICC Champions Trophy stretches past the Autumn Equinox.

"When we arrived in Ireland in June it was colder than this," he said.

Caribbean cricketers traditionally prefer to play with a hot sun on their backs.

But Lara and his men under-performed during what passes for an English summer and it is only now with sweaters and pocket hand warmers obligatory that they have come good.

After three months of desultory performances they have a chance to end their trip covered in glory, if they beat England in Saturday's Trophy final.

Should they do so, a mediocre showing in the one-day NatWest Series, when they won two matches and lost three, including the final against New Zealand, would be forgotten.

And even the embarrassment of an unprecedented 4-0 Test series whitewash by England could be blunted if Lara and his side return home with some silverware.

After losing that fourth Test at The Oval, most of the players got just four days at home before a training camp in Bermuda, and then it was back to the UK.

But it was not the same West Indies team that returned - some key changes had been made.

Injuries forced the selectors to abandon their flirtation with all-out youth and return to veterans who boasted experience if not illustrious pedigrees.

At the start of the NatWest Series, 19-year-old Ravi Rampaul was the side's most experienced one-day bowler, a policy Lara describes as a mistake.

Scott Styris runs out Ramnaresh Sarwan
West Indies came up short in July's NatWest Series final

And it took the loss of fast bowlers Tino Best and Jermaine Lawson to see older heads brought back.

Best's replacement, Corey Collymore, was unsuccessful in the Test series but is always a candidate to take the wickets of eager one-day batsmen.

Merv Dillon was overlooked for the summer tour and spent his time playing 20-overs-a-side cricket in the USA instead.

But the 30-year-old claimed a career-best 5-29 against Bangladesh and despite a niggling shoulder injury has brought the extra nous of 104 one-day caps to the dressing-room.

Also Stateside was Wavell Hinds, recovering slowly from a groin injury sustained last winter before gaining a call-up for this tournament.

Part of a record-equalling 192-run partnership with Chris Gayle in their opening game, he contributed 10 useful overs of medium-pace against Pakistan, taking 2-27.

Lara is always eager to remind questioners that the side is usually better at one-day cricket than in the Test arena, as the shorter format suits their temperament.

But he is also keen that an Indian summer of success should not conceal some glaring deficiencies.

"Winning this tournament would appease a lot of people," he said on the eve of the semi-final.

"I hope it doesn't erase anything because there is a lot of work to do in the Caribbean.

Wavell Hinds
Wavell Hinds has contributed with bat and ball

"We have an eight month break before our next Test series and something must be put into place to ensure we perform a lot better."

Whispers abound that coach Gus Logie will not be part of the plans for home series against South Africa and Pakistan next spring.

The West Indies Cricket Board, confounded in their attempts to sign Australian coach Bennett King two years ago, may look again for a foreign director of cricket.

Whether Lara remains as skipper is another topic for heated debate, although he has appeared so jaded at times on this tour that he could easily step down from the role.

The work ahead remains onerous, but if they win one more match in England, West Indies can at least go about it with a smile on their faces.

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