Suffice to say that the feats Brian Lara achieved in the game were enthralling enough to inspire envy. Talented batsmen attempt to reach the customary goal expected of them; that of scoring a hundred. Gifted batsmen score hundreds again and again. But only a few are able to strike daddy hundreds.
Drawing a phrase from an ever- mushrooming pop culture, Lara romanced cricket.
Being engaged in a near proliferation of runs akin to a scientist planning to nuke an enemy state, Brian Charles Lara believed in leaving behind signature imprints on the surface of the sport through one-of-a-kind efforts.
Striking mega centuries for Lara was like fathering a love-child.
We’ve admired him particularly for that iconic 375 against England in April, 1994. None of the cricketing geniuses at 25 would’ve bettered a Sobers’ record, least of all the iconic Sobers himself. We’ve hailed Lara for his unbeaten 400, against the same opponents he tormented earlier.
And when he hammered Australia for that incredible 153 not out in 1998, it seemed Cricket itself invited him to be seated amidst the very regal, topmost echelons, seemingly a picturesque throne meant for greats. But if there were a knock that truly indicated Lara’s magnitude and sheer appetite for destruction, then it would have to be that unbeaten 501 he struck in the summers of 1994.
The Lara mayhem
You wondered in the same instant of admiration about the absurdity of an individual score like that. One wonders whether an architecture student witnessing the Lara mayhem would’ve likened his 501 from 427 deliveries- including 10 sixes and 62 fours- to a skyscraper in midst of the 22 yards at Edgbaston. Something so lanky and unmovable for sheer weight of runs (read bricks involved) that it only got shifted into the annals of the game for time immemorial.
Lara’s postcard of carnage in the heart of England was a leveller of sorts. It meant that not only could the Trinidadian batting dynamite explode over England in his home, in the West Indies, but could also strike some random assortment of Englishmen, bullying them at their home. What was even more striking about the feat attained on 6 June 1994 was that it was to be Lara’s second record-breaking feat inside 2 months.
His 375 against England had come in April 1994. His highest individual first-class score came in June 1994.
What was Lara even doing? Was he attempting to lay a bridge of landmarks in different moments of time? The 90-degree perpendicular backlift, the undulating rhythm of quick, flashing adjustments between the back foot to the front foot, the dancing down the tracks and the princely ebullience of stiking it with arms raised and one leg up in an artistic, very ballet-movement like motion.
Thrill at being at Edgbaston
It was all there at Edgbaston to see. And must it be said, Lara might wish to thank Chris Scott, the keeper for dropping him on 18, in case he still hasn’t.
The greatest moment during Lara’s hurrah came where he creamed John Morris through to the covers for a four. A significant moment of rarity had been reached. Lara, unmoved in the immediate instant of striking another glorious signature stroke would go arms extended. Cricket, in the wake of witnessing an artist recording his 500th stroke of genius in a single attempt, saw a mortal become an immortal.
Fashionists, who much rather preferred in staring past the statistical abyss, saw a batsman turn into an aristocrat as if having signed a mega-buck spinning deal.
You were taken in by the feat. It’s gone unrepeated ever since. May or may not be matched ever.
Lara’s knock cemented his legend
But truth is, even young fans were moved in admiration, hailing cricket above football, if you were in England. If you were elsewhere, then Cricket did receive through Lara’s 501 not out, a lease for extension in a world that’s often condescended to exert weight through Golf, Formula One and Tennis.
Imagine a fictional conversation between two avid Londoners awe-struck in the aftermath of evidencing Lara’s mammoth on their way from Bond Street to Baker Street in the tube, “What a bloke! Was that a statistical monster there who raised down Durham?”
One reckons had someone like an Ian Bishop been there, in the commentary box at Edgbaston, he might’ve said, “Brian Lara… remember the name!”