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Brian Lara – One of Cricket’s Greatest Batsmen
Brian Lara is undoubtedly one of the best batsmen of all time and definitely one of the best of modern times. The former left-handed West Indian batsman mesmerized cricket fans and bowlers alike with his batting skills. You know a batsman has left an indelible mark on the game when he has a signature shot. In Lara’s case, he had a few signature shots.
Brian Lara will be remembered by the cricketing world for much more than just his unique, stylish batting and huge scores. In 2010, he holds the world record for the highest individual score in both Tests and first-class innings. His Test best is 400 not out, while his first-class best is 501. More remarkably, he reclaimed the record for the highest individual Test score just months after Australia’s Matthew Hayden claimed it. So far, he is the only man in Test history to hold this batting record.
After making his international debut in 1990, Lara was recognized as an emerging talent in world cricket. He asserted his authority with his maiden Test century against Australia in Sydney in 1992. He compiled a mammoth score of 277. The score itself was not a miracle for many cricket pundits. It was the way he controlled Australia’s bowling – attacking but never offering a chance. He was ruled out only by a run – a testament to the quality of his innings.
His early fame and prima donna demeanor after breaking the world record for the first time in 1994 made his relationship with cricket and the fans a bittersweet one. He was revered but disliked by many people. Some probably liked and disliked him at the same time. Many of his detractors probably never understood the kind of scrutiny and non-cricket pressure that his worldwide fame (at the age of 23) brought. Brian Lara first took over the West Indies captaincy in 1998. After what he called “mediocre success and appalling failures” as West Indies captain, he resigned as captain in early 2000.
Lara has captained the West Indies team three times. Each stint ended in somewhat controversial circumstances. His last stint as captain actually ended with his retirement from international cricket at the age of 38 – an age when he was still in top form. His departure came at the end of the West Indies’ World Cup campaign in 2007. Lara still managed to play a couple of first-class matches for Trinidad and Tobago in the 2007/08 season, picking up a massive score against Guyana. His season ended early when Lionel Baker of the Leeward Islands broke his forearm on a rebounder.
Lara has played for several major teams since making his first-class debut for Trinidad and Tobago in the 1987/1988 season. His ODI debut for the West Indies came two years later against Pakistan. Other teams Lara has played for include Northern Tranvaal (RSA), Warwickshire (England), Mumbai Champs (India) and ICC World XI.
At the end of his career, Brian Lara has healthy averages in Test, First Class and ODI matches. He also amassed over 22,000 international runs in 18 years of international cricket. Brian Lara is undoubtedly a living legend of cricket and the greatest West Indian batsman. Whether it’s run score, style or average, Lara has to be considered one of the best. For his cricketing exploits, he remains an inspiration to many young cricketers, particularly batsmen, in Trinidad and Tobago.
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