West Indian batting legend Brian Lara has expressed his desire to play in the Indian Premier League but said he has to be match-fit to stand a realistic chance of featuring in next year's Twenty20 event.




Lara, who made a comeback to competitive cricket two months ago by playing in the Zimbabwe T20 league after a three-year hiatus, said he needs to get into the groove as soon as possible to give himself a chance to be picked for the 2011 IPL season.

Brian Lara"If I was to give myself a chance to play in the IPL, then I need to start now," Lara told ESPNcricinfo.

"I tried negotiating with Surrey in May and that fell through. I am not going to say that I am ready for the IPL.

The option is around the corner, and I have put my name in the hat. But I need to play cricket regularly from now till then to get fit and capable of doing justice to the game and to my form in such a highly competitive league," he said.

The 41-year-old left-handed batsman said he wants to take a mentor-cum-player role in the lucrative competition, same as Rajasthan Royals' Shane Warne or Chennai Super Kings' Stephen Fleming .

"I see myself in that light as well. I don't want to be fighting with the youngsters for a game ... left out today, playing tomorrow. I would like to see myself as someone who can make a contribution even if I am not in the final XI. I would like to get involved in a holistic way and not just as a player," said Lara, who scored 11953 runs in 131 Tests.

Lara, who played in the now defunct Indian Cricket League for one year, said he does not regret the decision.

"Well, when the ICL first came to me, it was not a rebel league. It had the likes of Tony Greig and Kapil Dev (associated with it). That was a league that was trying to bring the game forward," said Lara, who turned out for Mumbai Champs for one season.