In the end, 13 years ago on 21st April, 2007, it had to finish with a run out for Brian Lara. Sport has this nasty habit of reserving its most brutal side for the game’s greatest icons, and the Caribbean Prince was a victim too.
In his final innings, when Brian Charles Lara charged down for a single, his partner Marlon Samuels turned his back on him, and the great man had to walk back to the pavilion at score of 18 against England in front of his home crowd.
The crowd rose as one to applaud the great man, and Lara walked back for the last time, bringing down the curtains on his illustrious 17 year career.
17 Years Of Nonchalance
And during these 17 years, Brian Lara had emerged as the ‘Prince of Trinidad’, the monarch of all that he had surveyed and had etched his name in the annals of history as one of the greatest cricketing icons of all time.
Lara’s batting had nonchalance written all over it. The hopping cover drive through the off side, the slash over backward point and the pull in front of square were shots that had the crowd as well as the opposition gaping at him in sheer disbelief. And, Lara raked in the numbers that puts him in the pantheon of greats in the rich history of the game.
With 11953 runs and 34 centuries, Lara is his country’s highest run scorer and century maker in the longest format of the game. And in the ODI format too, he is the second highest run scorer for the ‘Men in Maroon’, with a staggering 10405 ODI runs and 19 centuries.
Brian Lara: The Macho Savior
But, more than anything else, he was his country’s macho savior. A lone bright spark in an otherwise ordinary West Indian side, Lara thwarted several challenges with disdain, and ripped apart several bowling attacks in his career. His magical 375 against England in the year 1994 announced to the world that Lara was a talent who would go on to rule the cricketing world with distinction in the coming years.
His 153* at Bridgetown against the formidable Australians was a classic case of how one man’s Genius with the willow can help his side cross the line. That the next highest run scorer in the innings for the West Indies was Jimmy Adams with just 38 runs goes on to show the extent to which the West Indian side was dependent on Lara’s brilliance with the willow in the 1990’s and the first decade of the new millennium.
And of course, no discussion on Lara can be complete without talking about that 400* against England in the year 2004. Till date, the West Indian legend remains the only man to have touched the 400 run mark in Test cricket history, and it looks likely that he will remain in the pole position for a long time to come. In a 583 ball classic, Lara pummeled 43 fours and 4 sixes, to score Test cricket’s first and only quadruple century.
One Of The Greatest Batsmen
Lara will easily qualify as one of the greatest batsmen of his era, along with Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting. And, what set this illustrious triumvirate apart was their ability to make batting look ridiculously easy. Tendulkar’s straight drive seemed like a mere push past the bowler, Ponting’s swiveling pull shot had class written all over it, and Lara’s cover drive had the crowd asking for more.
The legendary Shane Warne paid glowing tribute to Tendulkar and Lara and said beautifully “Sachin Tendulkar is in my time the best player without doubt, daylight second, Brian Lara third.”
Lara was a ‘one of a kind’ batting marvel, and the greatest West Indian batsman since the iconic Sir Vivian Richards. The cricketing world has not seen another batsman like him, for Geniuses do not come visiting often.
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