Modern cricket has often divided fans over a classical question.
“Who’s the best batsman after all?”
On its day, this was a question that did let the fans settle, ensuring the discussion
continued into the after-hours.
Interestingly, to this day, the debate rages on.
But well before the days of the great AB de Villiers, a time where the quartet of greats-
Kohli, Williamson, Root, Smith- had even arrived, there weren’t many contenders
Many rested with Sachin Tendulkar, as they do to this day.
Not surprising. But when the “God” himself was asked, he took the name of a certain
As recently as a big media event in India, when asked about the one batsman
he’d pay to watch, Sachin replied, “Brian Lara!”
Too much of the cricket world- Brian Lara is a record-breaker. The holder of several
records most batsmen would part a limb for.
There’s the 375, the first when he broke the great Sir Gary Sobers’ record. Then there’s
the 400. An inning where he managed to carry his bat, soldiering on for 582 balls,
focusing for 770 plus minutes, it happens to be the highest-individual test score.
Then there’s also the 501, he’d struck at the height of his powers, circa 1993-94 season
for Warwickshire against Durham.
It remains, as does Cricket’s only quadruple hundred, the highest score achieved by an
an individual in a single county inning.
While 15 years have passed on since the construction of the momentous 400 at the
Antigua Recreation Ground, the 501 has remained unmoved and hence unbroken for
nearly two and a half decades.
If you think of it, then a lot has changed in 25 long years. It’s a period that has brought
about significant changes in the sport.
When Lara was still going strong, back in the day, there was no such thing as a T20.
From the point of the inception of his grizzly knocks to the present day, many have
walked back into the sunset.
The likes of De Villiers, Amla, Steyn, Duminy, Yuvraj, Kaif, McCullum, Clarke, Morkel,
Philander, Sanga, Mahela have all become ‘ex-cricketers’.
But the Brian Lara legend continues unaffected, shining bright as the sun’s rays during
the peak of the afternoon.
The man who’s turned 51, May 2, 2020, has since then- been inducted into Cricket’s
(ICC’s) Hall of Fame featured in the Road Safety Series in India (that had just begun
before the lockdown consumed it in its wake), and even starred in an important globally-
a watched event in the form of a Bushfire match in February of 2020.
Wherever he goes, whatever he does, print interviews, the famous “An evening with
Brian Lara” event in Australia or come what may, Lara’s name fills crowds akin to
bringing in people in stadia at his prime.
Can his style be the only reason for his appeal? We know the massive attention directed
at the high backlift, the whirring blade, the hopping around at the crease, and the
majestic but high backlift!
Lara’s presence was that of the Ballerina doing the Waltz on the 22 yards.
Or could it be that implicit in all that Lara did- and we know he achieved mightily- were
True guts. Right? His was a fight for glory. The call for redemption!
The 400 came when the West Indies were down and out, facing the ignominy of a
whitewash by the English. The left-hander’s highest score before that knock was a
Forget 400, a century didn’t seem in sight.
A 5-nil drubbing had happened just days before in South Africa.
Lara’s colossus- the 153 not out during the summers of 1999- came when no one, just
no one was in favor of his West Indies to win. After all, just days before the Bridgetown,
Barbados Test, his team had been dealt a damning blow.
51 not out read the scorecard at the First Test, at Trinidad.
Which other batsman, it must be asked, was so responsible for bailing his team out of
trouble? Surely, Dravid’s Wall was constructed later.
Who else was so severely and so often facing the wrath from his people and not
just the opposition but Brian Lara?
And may that is what made Lara’s achievements so memorable, and his career so savory
and worth respecting.
That Lara’s greatest peaks, often came against incredible odds- he was due for being
stripped off the captaincy in 2004 before 400 saved it all- attached a touch of legend to
his incredible journey.
Even when his team were hammered down in Sri Lanka, 2002-03, Lara fired 688 runs
from just 3 Tests and in the process, accounting for 40 percent of the team’s runs.
Where else was a man so willing to give everything in the wake of saving his team?
For someone whose first cricket bat was shaped out of a coconut tree, the longer Lara
wielded the bat in the middle, the more cornered did the teams felt at confronting him.
The sun, he ensured, never set on the team, so long as he was there, soldiering on.
And it’s not that the likes of McGrath and Warne, Gillespie and Srinath, Kumble and
Murali was the only one to feel the Lara-heat.
In the latter half of his career, as cricket birthed new fire-breathing monsters, the likes
of Shoaib and Lee went on to challenge Brian Lara.
But the blade hadn’t been blunted. The runs didn’t dry out. A hard-fought century at
Trinidad – the incredible 122 in 2003- came with the batting dynamo aged 34.
His last tour to Pakistan, 2006-07, saw the maestro accumulate 448 runs in 5 innings.
But the better part of those runs was blasted, not accumulated.
The image of Lara hunting down Kaneria, lifting Umar Gul over the stands have since
then become timeless legends.
And yet, it’s so highly commendable that Lara remained unchanged throughout his
career, focusing, fighting on, and being the unrelenting batsman ever in search of runs.
As if his wasn’t just hunger but an insatiable craving for runs as if batting was quite
simply second nature to him, and etching match-winning records was usual
No saint, but someone who horse-whipped bowlers, time and again in decorating
record-books with grandeur, witnessing Lara was often witnessing cricket making love to
new discourses of history.
The unifier of the island nations of the Caribbean, the man who bridged the gap
between an Australian, Indian, Englishman, or South African in the mutual love for those
flamboyant batting, cricket’s never been the same in his retirement.
But with him in it, it appeared larger than life.
All hail Brian Charles Lara- a warrior in the form of a batsman, an eternal fighter for the