YOUNG Brian Lara's world record score in cricket took the sporting world by storm. When the brilliant left-hander pulled England bowler Chris Lewis for four to surpass Sir Gary Sobers' record, he etched his name in the history books. Sir Gary's record had stood for 36 years. The Trinidadian's batting score of 375 runs in the final Test against England in the West Indies displayed an excellence which is also salutary for business. Lara's innings, like many played by West Indians over the years, had much to do with good people management and the creation of the right market conditions. Firstly, cricket in the West Indies follows a golden rule pursued by most successful businesses: managers must believe in their employees. Businesses that excel in the long term select the best available talent and then give them every opportunity to succeed. In West Indian cricket, talented players know that even if they have a series of low-scoring innings, management will continue to select them. This faith is an important part of their motivation and contrasts with the selection and de-selection that occurs in English cricket. That is no way to manage people. West Indian cricket also shows the significance of top management's commitment to the product. Its managers - many of whom were themselves sporting legends - know only too well how important cricketing success is for a region which has had few other things to boast about. Because of this, they take the job of maintaining and improving the performance of the team seriously. West Indian cricket also illustrates the need to have a market willing to consume the business' product. Without a customer base, businesses soon wither and die. In the West Indies, cricket will never die, since West Indians consume all they can of the game. If only all businesses could have such loyal consumers. One final ingredient of business success illustrated by West Indian cricket is luck. This is that curious element of competitive advantage often mysteriously conferred on some businesses, but not on others. Consider, for example, how lucky West Indian cricket is to have a climate which allows the game to be played and practised all year round. Luck can be a little bit of help from nature which many other cricket teams do not have. More than all this, perhaps, with a string of world record holders and world class talent stretching back many years, West Indian cricket also carries a legacy of success. In business, as in cricket, a legacy of success is one of the key ingredients for continued success. Carla Noel, a Trinidadian, is a research student at Templeton College, Oxford.