Hailing Brian Lara

Saturday, September 15, 2012    

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International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive Mr Dave Richardson stated the obvious yesterday: That the induction of Mr Brian Lara to the ICC Hall of Fame was a "mere formality".

It could be argued that the late Mr George Headley, the first great West Indies batsman and perhaps the first great West Indian sportsman; as well as Sir Garfield Sobers, universally acclaimed as the greatest all-rounder of all time, were more deserving.

But no other among the West Indians named so far to the ICC Hall of Fame could be considered more entitled to the honour bestowed on Mr Lara in Sri Lanka yesterday.

The statistics tell part of the story. Mr Lara scored 11,953 runs in 131 Tests and another 10,405 in 299 One Day Internationals. Often batting under tremendous pressure, because of the brittle nature of the West Indies line-up in the late 90s and 2000s, the Trinidadian was still able to maintain a career Test match batting average of 52.88.

His 501 not out for Warwickshire in English County cricket in 1994 remains the highest in first-class cricket and he also holds the record for the highest individual score in Test cricket, 400 not out against England in 2004 at the Antigua Recreation Ground.

Mr Lara's 501 in 1994 came just two months after he broke the then world record for Test cricket — scoring a then world record 375 also against England in Antigua.

The statisticians tell us that Mr Lara is the only batsman to score hundreds, double hundreds, a triple century, a quadruple century, and a quintuple century.

Statistics apart, Mr Lara was a man for the occasion. His greatest knocks came against the mighty Australians. There are many who will acclaim his 277 at Sydney, Australia — his maiden three-figure score in Test match cricket — as his best ever.

Jamaicans, though, will look no further than Sabina Park in 1999 when he scored a masterful 213 and in partnership with Mr James Adams turned the Test match around to hand the Australians a memorable defeat.

In that Test match, and the one to follow at Kensington Oval in Barbados, when he scored an epic unbeaten 153 to carry the West Indies to a one-wicket win, Mr Lara confirmed himself as one of the best ever against wrist spin — taming the peerless Mr Shane Warne in the process.

Great accumulator of runs, though he was, Mr Lara, the batsman, was never boring nor was he ever prepared to be contained for very long. The state of the game would often dictate circumspection and Mr Lara would oblige with compact defence; but always the little left hander was on the look out for that delivery too full, too short or ill-directed. And then from that towering back lift, Mr Lara's bat would come flashing through to dispatch the ball to the boundary and beyond.

As West Indies captain Mr Lara was heavily criticised and even from a distance it seems clear that he was not the best man manager. But none should forget that in September 200,4 against all odds and with the rest of the world astonished, he led the West Indies to triumph in the ICC Champions Trophy in England.

As we join the global cricket community in hailing the feats of Mr Brian Lara we wonder: when will we see his like again?





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