Brian Lara, the newest ICC Hall of Famer
West Indies captain Brian Lara greets the crowd after playing his last international cricket match against England of the Cricket World Cup at the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, April 21, 2007. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)
West Indies batting genius Brian Lara was inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame on Saturday night, claiming his 213 against Australia in 1999 at Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica, was the best of his 34 Test tons.
There are many Australians, including myself, who saw and rate Lara’s superb 277 at the SCG in 1993 as his greatest dig, but who is to argue with the great man.
That dig was significant as Lara’s first Test ton in his fifth appearance, and he had to be run out to be dismissed he was in such scintillating touch with 38 peerless boundaries.
It was also significant as the first of only three run out dismissals in 232 visits to the crease. He was always a shrewd judge of a run.
Lara must have rated that SCG innings at the time, naming his daughter Sydney when she was born in 1996.
But I remember the 10th child of 11 to Bunty and Pearl Lara in Port of Spain, Trinidad for many reasons.
He’s the only batsman in history to score a Test hundred, as well as double, triple, quadruple, and quintuple hundreds.
Throughout his stellar 17-year career, Lara scored 20% of all West Indian runs, beaten only by The Don with 23%, and George Headley with 21%.
For any cricketer who has played the grand old game, it’s hard to get your head around scoring a first-class world record 501 not out, and an unconquered Test world record 400. The concentration, patience, and physical fitness required would be mind-blowing.
The 501* for Warwickshire against Durham in 1994 required only 427 deliveries in a tick under eight hours, with 62 boundaries, and 10 sixes.
The 400* for the Windies against England in 2004 took nearly 10 hours, facing 582 deliveries, with 43 boundaries and four sixes.
I’ve been privileged in my time to see so many gifted left-handed batsmen, starting with Invincibles Arthur Morris, and Neil Harvey, when lefties were the exception rather than the rule.
In latter years Bill Lawry, Allan Border, Mark Taylor, Matt Hayden, Adam Gilchrist, and Justin Langer were Australian standouts. Mike Hussey is still going strong.
South African Graeme Pollock arguably ranks among the very best lefties, averaging 60.97 second only to The Don, Pollock’s career cut short by apartheid and sporting isolation.
Englishman David Gower was sheer poetry in motion, effortlessly stroking boundaries with perfect timing, while Sri Lankans Sanath Jayasuriya, and Kumar Sangakkara, tore apart the best attacks going around.
Bert Sutcliffe was the first Kiwi leftie to catch my eye, but Stephen Fleming ended up the better proposition.
And that leaves the calypso cricketers from the West Indies with Sir Garfield the first over 50 years ago. Since then Clive Lloyd, and Alvin Kallicharran were dangerous run-getters, with Chris Gayle and Shivnarine Chanderpaul still flying the leftie’s flag.
And in between, Brian Charles Lara, the Prince – the 17th West Indian to be inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame after Lance Gibbs, Gordon Greenidge, George Headley. Michael Holding, Rohan Kanhai, Clive Lloyd, Malcolm Marshall, Sir Vivian Richards, Andy Roberts, Sir Garfield, Sir Clyde Walcott, Sir Everton Weekes, Sir Frank Worrell, Courtney Walsh, Joel Garner, and Curtly Ambrose. What an impressive list.
But it’s hard to imagine Lara’s unbeaten 501 and 400 will ever be beaten.
If they are, it will be by one helluva batsman.
Watch Glenn Mitchell's wrap of the second Test, where Australia were victorious early on the final day, winning by 218 runs and taking a 2-0 series lead into the third Test in Perth.
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