ICC shared eight classic innings of Brian Lara on his 51st Birthday
To mark Brian Lara’s 51st birthday, International Cricket Council (ICC) shortlisted eight classic innings and asked cricket fans to vote for their favorite innings on the official Twitter handle of ICC.
In a career of 131 Tests and 11,953 runs in the TEST format, Brian Lara broke records on his way to becoming one of the greatest batsmen in the world of cricket. It’s no easy task to choose eight standout innings off the blade of the Prince of Port of Spain, and ICC shared eight of his great knock in Test cricket.
153 not out against Australia at Bridgetown in 1999
This fourth-innings effort marked one of the greatest fightbacks in the sport. Chasing a target of 308 in the third Test in Barbados, West Indies were in some trouble at 248/8. But, against an attack of Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie, Shane Warne, and Stuart MacGill, an in-form Lara remained determined, shepherding the lower order expertly while unfurling his array of strokes. While Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh did their bit in defiance, Lara provided the finishing touches for a special one-wicket win. In the words of the great Clive Lloyd on that day, “To play as he did today, nursing along with players with much less ability, was the hallmark of greatness.”
213 runs against Australia at Kingston in 1999
Lara’s captaincy was under the scanner. The visiting Australians were on top in the series and had reduced the hosts to 34/4, with another batsman injured, when Lara showcased a masterclass. Along with Jimmy Adams (94), he stunned the opposition attack, the duo adding a sublime 322 runs to take a series-leveling lead of 175. Years later, in a talk, the left-hander explained why the innings meant so much to him: “Pulling that innings out in face of adversity, it showed me what I was capable of. It might not have been the prettiest, but it the best I have ever batted in my entire life.”
202 runs against South Africa at Johannesburg in 2003
Undeterred by South Africa’s first-innings 561, Lara made 202 of his side’s 410 runs in response. The highlight was a flurry of 28 runs off one Robin Peterson over, which read 4, 6, 6, 4, 4, 4. The hosts won by 189 runs, but not for lack of effort from the West Indies skipper. “Today you saw a different Brian Lara,” he said. “From what I learned from Jimmy (Adams) and Carl (Hooper) I have become a more determined player and a better captain.”
226 against Australia at Adelaide in 2005
Lara’s love-affair with Australia and the Australian attack continued on his last series in the country. This knock came off 298 balls when none of his team-mates scored even a half-century that innings. West Indies lost by seven wickets, but not before Lara broke Allan Border’s record for most Test runs, prompting the Australian to say: “There is no doubt he is a genuine genius. I am sure I am not the only Australian who is pleased to see him hold this record.”
375 against England in Antigua in 1994
Garry Sobers’ 365* from 1958 was the highest individual score in Tests for 36 years before Lara broke the record. His 538-ball effort in the fifth Test extended over 12 hours and included 45 boundaries. Sobers was admiring. “He is the only batsman today who plays the game the way it should be played – with his bat,” he said. “He never uses his pads, and it is always a pride and joy to watch him play.”
221 against Sri Lanka in Colombo in 2001: Sri Lanka won the Test by 10 wickets, but Lara’s double-century in a team total of 390 was a class apart. Only two other West Indies batsmen got to double figures against a marauding home attack spearheaded by Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan.
400 not out against England at St John’s in 2004
Ten years after he broke Sobers’ record, and six months after Matthew Hayden broke his, Lara reclaimed the top spot among all-time individual high scores in Test cricket. The pitch held no demons, but the batsman had to deal with his faltering form in the series and a team in decline to put in a monumental knock. It lasted 582 balls and included 43 fours and four sixes.
277 against Australia in Sydney in 1993
The Prince’s first ton, and one of his finest. Shane Warne quipped later, “If you didn’t run him out, I think he would still be batting now. He was hitting the gaps every time.” Faced with the hosts’ total of 503/9d in the third Test, Lara lifted his side from 31/2, combining with his skipper Richie Richardson in a sublime display that took Border’s men by storm. West Indies great Rohan Kanhai was all praise: “Back foot, front foot, timing, placement, against spin bowlers and fast bowlers alike. He was marvelous.”
We also wishing, the legend of cricket, a very Happy Birthday.