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This Day, That Year, in 2004: Brian Lara Scored 400 Not Out

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Certain things in Cricket don’t change, nor do they ever grow old.

For instance, the resounding love that follows every time the phrase “Sachin……Sachin” echoes in stadia around the world.

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Visiting rare footages that showcase Sir Sunny’s dominance over the fearsome West Indian bowlers.

But an instance that has not only remained unmoved 16 years since its inception but also divided opinion is this Brian Lara 400 not out!

Lara’s record is actually Cricket’s version of the greatest Superbowl edition ever, a feat that for sheer awe and recognition can flex its own muscle against Senna’s incredible lap at Monaco, an experience as ennobling as seeing Ali at his peak inside the ring.

No other batsman up until 12 April 2004 had managed to score 400 odd runs as an individual. And none since the decade and a half of the construction of a “one-of-a-kind” effort has even drawn level to Brian Lara.

But while we regard the massive statistical output Lara’s bat generated in just a solitary outing- let a question be asked.

Is Lara’s knock remembered only because it is cricket’s highest individual record score?

Brian Lara

Or could it be that the circumstances in which Lara scaled a rare landmark have broadened its appeal? So much so that Ponting, in taking objection to Lara’s effort, calling it a ‘selfish knock,’ (perhaps forgetting that Windies didn’t have the bowling arsenal to bowl out England twice), had to be corrected by Sir Sunny Gavaskar, who wrote back then, “try scoring a triple ton in Test cricket first before condemning Lara’s knock!”

Well just as one cannot fathom the hair-raising experience that can only come from standing in midst of the Roman Colosseum, one cannot capture the significance of the knock without visiting the events that occurred before the Lara legend was reborn under shiny Antiguan sun.

Events that’ll always remain etched in the mind; a Trinidadian kneeling down, embodying sheer grit by staying put for 582 deliveries, focusing for no fewer than 778 minutes.

The ill-fated Tour To South Africa

Brian Lara

Before Lara came in the middle of a certain whitewash that England were destined to attain and his struggling side, his West Indies had just returned from a calamitous tour of South Africa.

From the onset of 26 January to 3 February, which is only 2 months before hosting England, the West Indies had plummeted to a heartbreaking 3-1 ODI series loss to the Proteas.

As the captain, Lara’s scores read- 2 off 16 in the first game, followed by 9 off 25, 59 off 37 and an 11 ball 11 in the ODIs that followed.

Worse than the defeats were the abject surrenders witnessed in the first two contests, the latter seeing the Windies bundled out for 54.

Caribbean Cricket, one feared once again, had returned to a familiar state of woes.

Back at home, the mass media transmitted questions about Lara’s innate inability to captain the side, let alone lead by an example.

Though, this wasn’t the first time that questions had been asked of his leadership or whether the usually bludgeoning blade had gone silent.

World Cricket had witnessed a resurrection of sorts in 1998-99 series where at the stroke of nothing but pure genius Lara entered record books, defying Australia what was to have been a likely triumph in the Frank Worrell Trophy.

But A Lot Of Water Had Flown Under The Bridge Since

Lara out of form

This wasn’t the young and groovy Prince of Trinidad, batting in the usual pomp, circa his twenties or late twenties.

In 2004, Brian Lara was a 34 year-old-old.

His seasons of peak performance were behind him. Picture the 277 against Australia as a first-time visitor in 1993. Do not forget the 688 runs blazed from just 3 Tests against Sri Lanka, in 2002.

Nor was this the Lara behind the 375, a feat he had achieved when he was only 24.

England Immediately Put West Indies On The brink Of Another Heartbreak

Brian Lara

In the very first Test during that unforgettable 2004 series, England had bowled out the West Indies for 47.

Just as some things never grow old, there are things that never change.

For instance, Lara being at the helm of desperate and disappointing outcomes.

The next Test, at Trinidad, resulted in another comprehensive English win, before another capitulation at Barbados, saw the West Indies go down for 94.

Up to that point, Lara’s individual scores were anything but stable or consistent, let alone terrifying.

Insofar, he’d managed only a 100 runs from 6 innings, with scores of 23 and 0, 0 and 8, followed by 36 and 33.

Next up? Antigua. What England wanted was another win, to make it 4 in a row. This would’ve made West Indies’ humiliation complete, through another back-breaking morale-losing whitewash.

But Brian Lara Had Other Plans

Brian Lara

On the morning of April 10, 2004, Brian Lara made his way to the middle with the team losing Ganga early for 10, the scorecard reading just 33.

At this time, he may have been fully aware that perhaps millions of eyeballs were scrutinizing every move of his; the man who had led the team to what was a point of no return.

This is precisely when Lara fashioned yet another fightback, this time, an effort of massive statistical and emotional importance.

At the end of Day 1, Lara was still there.

But even to the most unquestionably passionate fan, the dangerous quartet comprising Harmison, Hoggard, Flintoff, and Jones, charging in at nothing less than 130-140 k/hr every over upon over, were too good to overcome.

Next day? Lara was still there.

The day after? 

Brian Lara

The scoreboard in the peak afternoon read 576 for 5.

Gareth Batty bowled a straighter one around the off and the batsman in charge was content at stroking it for a quick single.

But this wasn’t just a single.

Brian Lara had completed his 300th run of the inning. Michael Holding remarked in his famous somnolent voice, “And there he goes… second triple century for Brian Lara in Test cricket, isn’t he happy.”


If you were one among the crowd, who prior to the start of the final Test (and as proven in the end, a decisive one), may have predicted the outcome, then you were guilty as charged.

But if you were tuning in from wherever it was you were watching the live proceedings, you were in awe of the genius of Brian Lara.

Yet, at the same time, you had no idea what everyone’s favorite punching bag, the man held responsible for Caribbean cricket’s downturn was up to next.

Let’s just put it this way- no soothsayer or pundit blessed with the ultimate insight may have thought about Lara’s next mission, the one that truly did seem impossible to attain, especially given how far off the West Indians had fallen from the road to recovery before this Test.

Next up, post a few blazing cover drives and masterly pull strokes later, the scoreboard was 667 for 5.

Lara had raised the bat to acknowledge his 350.

Brian Lara

Yet nothing appeared as scintillating as the lofted stroke over long-on off Batty. With that six, the fourth of his inning, Lara equaled Matt Hayden, a man who had hijacked all the attention in capturing the world record (when he bettered his 375 with a 380), only 6 months prior to Lara contesting against England.

It was only fitting that Ian Bishop was behind the mic in the very absorbing minute where Lara had equaled his own defier, exclaiming, “that’s gone a long long way!”

With 712-5 and runs falling down akin to water from a mighty fountain, Lara, no longer the man who was fighting a reputation but the man who was batting as if God had ordained one of his own to exact revenge from an oppressor, cut even loose.

Batty would drop one wide down the legs and Lara guided it to fine leg boundary.

With the West Indies now in a position of absolute ascendency, Ian Bishop poured his heart out, “There it is, the world record has fallen once again to Brian Charles Lara of Trinidad and Tobago.”

Lara's 400 not out

Lara now on 384, stood tall again, concentrating just as hard as he had in these surreal moments to notch up Test cricket’s truly behemoth and only score of 400 not out, a few minutes later.

Not that the runs would’ve come with vague difficulty, for it was a flat belter. But one mustn’t forget that scoring runs are far easier at 25 or 29 or even 31 than it is to cross milestones and rewrite records at 34.

That Lara did that with a touch of class even at the end of his career offers insight as to why the knock is so highly rated.

Just as every single time a batsman comes mighty close at bettering one of cricket’s truly memorable feats.

That Cricket gives us all a chance to make records is highly common. Happens all the time.

But only a few succeed in safeguarding their reputations and rescuing their teams- something that doesn’t happen often.

That Lara did that often with the world against him makes him one of a kind.

And maybe for the emotional upliftment that only an embattled Lara could’ve provided which ultimately prompted fans in attendance to display placards that read, “our wounds have been healed” makes Lara’s effort worth everyone’s while- those who contested him, and those who witnessed a rare moment in time.

Brian Lara

Some of Brian Lara’s specials in Test Cricket

Records Year What sets it apart?
Most runs in a Test over   2003 28 runs on Peterson, never before did a West Indian score that many against any team, let alone South Africa
Most runs accumulated through a debut Test ton against Australia 1993 Lara’s first-ever Test century against Australia led to 277 runs, the highest-score reached by a West Indian then and as on date through a first-Test ton v the opposition
Second-highest tally of runs ever collected in a Test over 2006 When Lara creamed Kaneria for 26 in an over at Multan, he came to hold another special; also the highest tally of runs gathered against a Pakistani bowler, a feat tied with Craig MacMillan on Younis Khan
    Most runs ever scored by a West Indian in a 3-match Test series vs Sri Lanka                  2002 When Lara countered Vaas and Murali to score 688 runs from just 3 Tests, he became the only Windies batsman from that point on to score that many against the sub-continental side
Most centuries scored by a West Indian batsman ever   1990-2006 34, Chanderpaul is next on the list with 30 tons, including 7 against India
    Most runs scored by a West Indian batsman ever 1990-2006     11,953

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Dev Tyagi
Dev Tyagi
Dravid believer, admirer of - the square drive, Drew Barrymore, Germany, Finland, Electric Mobility, simplicity and the power of the written word! Absolutely admire contributing to KyroSports

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