Brian Lara is undoubtedly one of the best batsmen of all time and certainly one of the best of the modern era. The former left-handed West Indian batsman mesmerised cricket fans and bowlers alike with his batting ability. You know that 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 in the cricketing world for much more than his unique, stylish batting and huge scores. As at 2010, he is the world record holder for the highest individual scores in both Test and First class innings. His Test-best is 400 not out, while his First Class best is 501. What is even more remarkable is that he reclaimed the record for the highest individual Test score mere months after Australia's Matthew Hayden captured it. So far, he is the only man in Test history to reclaim that Test batting record.
After his international debut in 1990, Lara was recognised as an emerging talent in world cricket. He stamped his authority with his maiden Test century against Australia at Sydney in 1992. He compiled a huge score of 277. The score itself wasn't the marvel for many cricket pundits. It was the way in which he dominated the Australian bowling- attacking, but never offering a chance. He was only dismissed by the run-out route- a testament to the quality of his innings.
His early fame and prima donna-like behaviour after he first broke the world record in 1994 made his relationship with cricket and fans a bittersweet one. He was revered but disliked by many. Some probably liked and disliked him simultaneously. A lot of his detractors probably never understood the kind of scrutiny and non-cricketing pressure that his worldwide fame (at age 23) brought. Brian Lara assumed the West Indies captaincy for the first time in 1998. After what he termed "moderate success and abject failures" as West Indies captain, he resigned the captaincy in the early part of the year 2000.
Lara had been the captain of the West Indies team on three occasions. Each stint ended in somewhat controversial circumstances. His last stint as captain actually ended with his resignation from international cricket at the age of 38- an age where 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 First-class games for Trinidad and Tobago in the 2007/2008 season, where he piled on a massive score against Guyana. His season ended prematurely when Lionel Baker of the Leeward Islands team fractured his forearm with a bouncer.
Lara played for several major teams since he made 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 that Lara played for include Northern Tranvaal (RSA), Warwickshire (England), Mumbai Champs (India) and the ICC World XI.
At the end of his career, Brian Lara has healthy averages in Test, First-class and ODI matches. He also accumulated over 22,000 international runs in his 18 years of international cricket. Undeniably, Brian Lara is a living legend of the game of cricket and the greatest West Indian batsman. Whether the criterion is run scored, style or averages, Lara has to be considered as one of the top. For his cricketing exploits, he remains an inspiration to many young cricketers, particularly batsmen, in Trinidad and Tobago.
Darrell Victor is a freelance writer and former insurance advisor. To read his latest articles visit http://www.helium.com/user/show_articles/338815
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