Lara upstages Fletcher departure
A tired, irritable Lara had already faced more than 10 minutes of questions, continually being probed on the off-field problems that have beset the side through the World Cup and on his own future, with a tour to England imminent.
There was just one last question, which was not as testing as some that had preceded it but it proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.
"This is the last question,” he said. “I’ll just say, I’ve given it extensive consideration and on Saturday I'll be bidding farewell to international cricket as a player.
"I've already spoken to the board and my players."
And that was it. Test cricket’s all-time leading run-maker and one of the finest batsmen I have ever watched had just ended his career, right there in a humid lecture theatre.
Apparently he had planned to save the announcement either until the eve of the England game or for afterwards.
Perhaps the about-turn was more of a shock because of the low-key game that had preceded it, West Indies taking advantage of some decent bounce to skittle Bangladesh 99 runs short.
It counted for little except prize money as both sides had already been eliminated from the semi-finals.
At least Lara, who is 38 in a fortnight, will get the chance to bow out against England, who he has a habit of turning on his best for, like the world record Test scores of 375 in 1994 and 400 not out 10 years later.
Many believed West Indies were a dark horse to win the World Cup on home soil but the hopes of the home fans exploded as the team lost their first three games of the Super 8 stage.
Lara’s leadership has come in for criticism, with suggestions he is unable to empathise with less naturally gifted members of the side.
But there have been plenty of rumblings in the background, too, with suggestions of a rift between the selection panel and team management and an admission by team coordinator Clive Lloyd that the side lack the video technology enjoyed by most other teams.
For reasons that have gone unexplained, Lara has been moved up and down the batting order, batting at six against Bangladesh, but has provided 251 with a battling 77 against Australia.
He wanted to retire from one-day cricket some time ago but was persuaded to stay on for the first ever World Cup in the Caribbean.
In all probability disillusioned by the experience, he has gone back on a recent assertion that he would like to play Test cricket into his 40s.
Lara said he would not “go into hibernation”, suggesting he would like to continue to play a part in West Indies cricket, although the cricket board may have other ideas.
For now, we have one last chance to watch Lara in all his glory, with a demoralised England the target. Duncan Fletcher’s farewell game could be a cracker.