SOURCE : www.cricketfundas.com
BRIAN LARA : The Prince of Cricket
Records are meant to be broken over a period of time. Mathew Hayden muscled his way to 380 against the hapless Zims to set a new record for the highest individual test score. Lara’s 375 against England ten years ago was eclipsed by the Aussie. Who would have thought six months later, the Messiah of World Cricket - Brian Lara would occupy the summit of batting records that once belonged to him?? At Multan, just a few days back, Virender Sehwag made mockery of the much hyped Pakistan pace attack to race away to a triple century. But luckily for Hayden, Sehwag’s innings ended at his score of 309.
Things however were in complete contrast at the Antigua Recreation Ground. With West Indies in a humiliating situation of facing a possible whitewash in the hands of the Englishmen, Brian Lara and his men were under loads of pressure. Cricket was degrading and reaching low levels in the Caribbean. A flat wicket was for the offering at the Antigua Recreation Ground, host for the fourth and final test of the Cable and Wireless Series. It has been a nightmare of a series for the Prince – Brian Lara. Lara had scored just 100 runs in the 3 Tests with a dismal average of 16.60. Questions were raised if it was the same Brian Lara who was once considered to be the best batsman in the world, is Lara a pale shadow of his past? The English bowlers got Lara to hop and hop awkwardly.
Many great batsmen in the past had one or two series in which they would have failed miserably, but the fact remains that FORM IS TEMPORARY AND CLASS IS PERMANENT. A recent illustration for this was shown by Sachin Tendulkar after he scored that unbeaten double century at Sydney to cover up all the bad scores he had in the series. And Lara had that in his mind I guess. With a flat track and the ball not deviating much from the surface, Lara had to play himself in and battle out the likes of Hoggard, Harmison, Flintoff and Jones. After Chris Gayle had provided the impetus for the innings, it was over to the skipper and Sarwan to continue the good work.
As he stayed at the crease, runs began to flow thick and fast and the old vintage shots of Brian Lara were on display. With things not getting any better for England, Lara enjoyed his stay and progressed from a ton to a double and to a triple at the fag end of the second day’s play. Brian Lara started the 3rd day’s play with an overnight score of 319 and everyone were in suspense if Hayden’s 380 could be broken.
Every run he scored on Day3 was followed with great interest. Lara soon reached 350 after batting for 681 minutes and facing 494 balls. Then the countdown began 31 runs to rewrite the record books. Lara became cautious and was collecting each and every run with precise shot selection. Finally people were on the edge of their seats with the Prince just a big strike away from equaling Hayden’s 380. And Brian Lara stepped down the track to play a princely shot for 6 off Gareth Batty to level on Hayden‘s 380. It was goodbye for Hayden’s 380 after Lara swept Batty for a four to become the new record holder for the HIGHEST INDIVIDUAL SCORE IN TEST CRICKET. The crowd erupted with that and the newly elected Prime Minister of Antigua was one among those joyous crowds. The next target was 400 and Lara did that after play resumed after the lunch session, with that he declared the innings with West Indies on 751/5. The record books now have a name for the “highest individual test score” – BRIAN CHARLES LARA (WI) – 400* off 582 balls with 43 fours and 4 sixes Vs England at Antigua, 2004.
[Edited on 14-5-2004 by pompous]