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Brian Lara : The Prince Of Cricket

If a young-man is looking to be a future batsman for his country, he would look at Brain Lara as his conqueror.

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Brian Lara (Photo by Hamish Blair/Getty Images)

There are many good players who are remembered for their contribution towards their nation through the game. But there are players, very few in number, who create an aura around themselves. These players do not merely play the game. Whenever they step into the ground, they carry with themselves the hope of the nation, the pride of the nation, excitement of thousands of fans all around the world. They define the game in their own way.

And that aura apotheosizes them and makes them players of unmatched stature. They are called the greatest players of time.
Brian Charles Lara is undoubtedly a prominent figure in the list of such greatest cricketers of all time. He was a player who glued us to the seats whenever he came to play amazing with his passionate, peerless mastery of batting. Cricket staged like an art before him. 

Early Life :

Brain Charles Lara was born in Trinidad on 2nd May, 1969. On completion of his primary schooling from St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Primary he joined Fatima College. At a very early age he was admitted to a coaching for cricket. And in Fatima College he had shown the qualities of a great cricketer. At the age of 15 he joined West Indies under 19 team.

International Career : 

Brian Lara made his debut in both test and ODI against Pakistan in the year 1990. He did not perform well in that series.
His first breakthrough came in 1993 when he smashed 277, as a maiden century, against Australia, in Sydney. This particular innings put such a huge influence on him that he named his daughter Sydney.
In 1994 Lara broke the record of highes individual score in an innings which was previously created by his legendary countryman Sir Garfield Sobers putting up a huge ton of 375 runs. 9-years later, Aussie left-hander Matthew Hayden surpassed Lara scoring 380 versus Zimbabwe. But this record did not last long, as something phenomenal was waiting to be done.

Lara, once again in the Antigua Recreation Ground against England, not only broke Hayden’s record but also set a new record of scoring 400* runs in any international format. Till date no player in international match could touch this feat.    ( Note: all the three players were left-handed batsmen). Lara served West Indies as a captain from 1998 to 1999. In this period West Indies played a series of four test matches against Australia. Lara, at his peak, played brilliantly in the whole series. He scored three hundreds and one double hundred.

In the third test he revived West Indies while chasing down 311 runs. In that innings Lara played an outstanding knock of 153* runs. At a time he was batting with Courtney Walsh( considered to be number 11 of the team of 11ths). So In the pitch the best and the worst were standing. But Lara with his magical batting won West Indies the match. Undoubtedly this match is considered to be one of the best test matches in the history of cricket. And the innings played by Brian Lara remains to be one of the most significant and top  performances in test cricket of all time. On that day a new chapter in the history of cricket was written. This 153* is also my personal favorite innings of Brian Lara.

688-Test runs in just three games- a magical number:

In 2001 West Indies came to Sri Lanka. Muttiah Muralitharan was at his peak. And as usually most of the West Indian players fell prey to his befuddling off-spin. But Lara stood indifferent to him. It seemed as if Lara knew what delivery Murali was going to bowl. He completely trashed Murali. In that series Lara scored 42% of the total runs of his team. Lara scored 688 runs in the three test matches. Lara also scored 501 runs playing for Warwickshire against Durham in 1994. It is also the highest individual score in first class cricket.
Later Lara went on to become captain of the West Indies team for several occasions.

Till now we have focused more on the test career of Brian Lara. Let’s talk about ODI career of him too. Lara was one of the very few batsmen who amassed 10000+ runs in both Test and ODI cricket ( Others are Tendulkar, Dravid, Ponting, Kallis, Sangakkara, Jayawardene). In 1992 he played his first world cup match against Pakistan before knocking out South Africa with a beautiful century in 1996 followed by another century against them in 2003. In 2004 West Indian team won the ICC Champions trophy under his leadership.

Retirement :

In 2007 he announced his retirement from all forms of cricket. He played his last match against England. And after that match in the post match interview he famously asked “ Did I entertain?”. And he received a resounding “Yes” from the spectators.

Though Lara was a great ODI batsman, he, dressed in white, will always be best remembered for his greatest achievements in the red ball cricket.

Records :

Lara made a bunch of records. But we will talk about the most remarkable ones.

  • Brian Lara is the only batsman to have reclaimed the record of scoring highest individual score in an innings. We have discussed about it earlier.
  • Brian Lara holds the record of scoring 400* runs in an international test innings. It is also the highest ever individual score made in an international arena.
  • He secured 5th position along with Sunil Gavaskar in terms of scoring highest number of test centuries. Gavaskar and Lara scored 34 centuries only to be surpassed by Sachin Tendulkar (51), Jacques Kallis(45), Ricky Ponting( 41), Rahul Dravid(36).
  • He is one of the 7 batsmen to score more than 10000 runs in both test and ODI cricket.
  • Lara scored highest runs in a single over in a test match when he hot RJ Peterson with 28 runs in that over. Lara also made 26 runs in a single over of Danish Kaneria ( Pakistan).
  • He is one among the three cricketers to receive BBC Sports Personality of the Year-Overseas Personality award. Sir Garfield Sobers and Shane Warne are the two other cricketers to win the award.
  • Lara contributed 20% of the total team score. Only Sir Don Bradman(23%) and George Headly (21%) could do that better than Lara.
  • He has many other records in his pocket. But I won’t talk too much about those records lest the blog should be lengthy.

It’s not the end for Lara here: 

There are so many things to talk about Brian Lara. But I am confined to the limit of length. Lara was someone very special, god-gifted. He was a hero and a champion. He protected the West Indian side for a long time. Now many people may ask how he could play such mammoth innings in several occasions. 19 out of 34 of his test centuries were 150+. Although he was consistent with his batting, he had some days in his name.

On that days nobody, literally nobody, could not do anything to him. He would make the greatest of bowlers embarrassed with his stroke making. in his first 30-40mins, he used to take time and then he started playing quickly. He was a class apart. Almost all the great bowlers of his era said that he was a nightmare to them. He was the one of the toughest batsman to bowl. Both Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid said that if possible they would like to have the flair of Lara included in their own qualities. We are grateful to him. That’s why today- on his birthday, we thank him for entertaining us.

 

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