October 1, 2012

Lara's theme: a caribbean rhapsody

Analysing the highs, lows and various other performance aspects in Brian Lara's Test-batting career
278

Brian Lara outperformed his peers by 45% and his team-mates by nearly 67% © Getty Images

I cannot think of a better title for this article than the wonderful music of Maurice Jarre which has stood tall for 50 years. Brian Charles Lara entertained millions across the world for many years, exasperated his followers often, but there was never a dull moment while he was at the crease. He has alternated broken notes and the greatest of symphonies in his exciting career. His followers go far beyond the shores of Trinidad. I may be wrong, but Lara, amongst all modern players, must have had the greatest number of followers from outside his own country. I am sure Freddie Mercury would not mind my borrowing part of the title of another classic: to embellish this one.

This, I confess, comes from someone, who thinks Lara is the most exciting cricketer ever. I may not have Lara bat for me if my life depended on a batsman, am I sure about this? (Sri Lanka 2001!!!), but at all other times, it will be Lara all the way. But as my enthusiastic set of readers would have noted, analysis is different from admiration and I have never allowed my heart to rule over my mind in analytical matters. So this tribute will be as much a look into the numerous successes of Lara as his failures.

I have also used this tribute to strengthen my single player analysis program. There are newer insights and analysis areas. Such insights do not require graphs.

Career summary

Matches: 131
Innings: 232
Not Outs:  6 (2.6%)
Runs: 11953
Average: 52.89
100-50: 34-48
Frequency of 100s: 6.8 Inns/100
Avge value of 100s: 173.2.
Form-dips : 3

Just a recap of well-known facts. Lara is the only batsman to reach 400 in Tests. Also the only batsman to reach 500 in First Class cricket. One of four players to have crossed 300 twice in their Test careers. Only player to have gained the Test high-score record, lost it and regained it, all within the span of 10 years. Lara's nine double-hundreds are second only to Bradman's tally of 12 double-hundreds. Finally a query from Arijit Dasgupta which I have not been able to confirm but which probably is true. "Does Lara have the highest number of 20-plus overs? I can recall three straightaway: 28 off Peterson (2003), 26 off Kaneria (2006) and 22 off Adam Dale (1999)".

The eye-catcher is the average value of 100 which is a very high 173.2, indicating that Lara is a big-hundred player. He is fourth in this table, behind Bradman, Zaheer Abbas and Sehwag. The frequency of hundreds is a reasonable 6.8: nothing great. Quite a few batsmen have better frequency values.

But the real eye-opener is the Not out percentage. This stands at an incredibly low 2.6% and explains why Lara's average is on the lower side. This value of 2.6 is the lowest amongst the batsmen who have crossed 5000 runs: a list of 100 top batsmen. It is indicative of the way Lara played. His not out innings are 400*, 153*, 80*, 48*, 14* and 13*. Two historic innings lead this list.

I have developed a new measure called Form-dip. A form-dip is a sequence of 4 consecutive single-digit dismissals. Not outs break the sequence. I am sure readers would agree with me that this represents a real dip in form since it represents non-contribution for a minimum of 2 Tests. I also tightened the rules in deciding that a sequence of 4, 8, 0, 5, 1 will convert to two form-dips and so on. This is understandable since the form moves down alarmingly with each failure past 4.

What do we have here? A real surprise. I have done this work only for about 20 odd top batsmen. But the patterns are clear. The Form-dip table is headed by the two batsmen competing for the best contemporary batsman tag. Tendulkar has had 4 such failure streaks and Lara, 3. Most of the older batsmen, and Kallis/Jayawardene/Sangakkara do not appear in the list whereas Ponting, Dravid, Laxman and Sehwag all have a single instance. Some unexpected names here.

Balls faced information

Balls faced: 19753
Scoring rate: 60.5
Balls faced per inns: 85.1.

Amongst the top batsmen, only Sehwag, Richards and Pietersen are ahead of Lara in the scoring rate measure. The average balls faced per innings is, as expected, on the lower side.

Top 5 innings analysis

Top 5 inns (Runs) : 400 375 277 226 221 Total: 1499 Avge: 299.8

These small analytical segments bring new insights. The first is the average of the top-5 innings played by the concerned batsman. Lara's average of almost 300 is the highest of all batsmen. Next comes Bradman with 292.2 and then comes Sehwag, with 275.2. This confirms Lara's penchant for playing huge innings.

Top 5 inns (Balls): 582 538 372 360 354 Total: 2206 Avge: 441.2
The next one is to look at the top 5 innings in terms of balls faced. The balls played data is available even for many older players. But this is not a complete analysis. Notwithstanding his attacking play, Lara has genuinely played many long innings. His average for the top-5 innings is a huge 441. The leader in this regards is Hutton with 588, followed by Hammond, with 566. Amongst modern batsmen, Jayawardene leads with 463 and Lara comes next. Dravid's average is 438.

Lara as the highest scorer

HS Inns:    65
% of inns: 28.0
HS Runs total: 7613
HS Next Best:  3623
% of Lara's total: 47.6

This is a new piece of analysis. I have determined the number of innings in which Lara was the leading scorer in the innings and worked out this as a % of total innings. More importantly, to get a handle on the level of support, I have added the next highest scores and determined this total as a % of the total of Lara's innings. The numbers are very illuminative.

Lara has top-scored in 28.0% of the innings he played in. His is the highest amongst modern batsmen. Only Gavaskar matches this number. Of course, many old timers have figures in excess of 30, Bradman leading with 37.5%. The matching with Gavaskar indicates how often Lara carried his team.

The next one is an even more enlightening one. This defines the support received. Lara received the least support amongst all batsmen. The next best batsmen have totalled 47.6% of Lara's aggregate, below even half-way stage. He is the only batsman to have received below 50% support. Sehwag is next with 53.5% and then comes Hutton with 53.7%. Just as a comparison, the number for Tendulkar is 65.4% and for Ponting, 64.9%. This is a clear confirmation of how often Lara carried the burden.

Innings break-down

Sub-10 innings: No- 62 % of total-26.7%
Sub-25 innings: No-100 % of total-43.1%
Sub-50 innings: No-147 % of total-63.4%

In this new analysis I look at the pattern of low scores. Lara has had 26.7% of single-digit scores, 43% of scores below 25 and a huge 63.4% of sub-50 scores. This indicates that Lara was not a great starter. I have not looked at all batsmen but Michael Clarke (27.5%) has a higher single-digit component. The older batsmen all have figures below 15%. Sangakkara has a below-20% tally.

Team runs/balls analysis

Runs added with late order batsmen (7-11) : 1487 (25)
Avge runs added with late order batsmen   : 59.5
Team runs while at crease       : 21448
Batsman's % Runs contribution   :  55.7%
Team balls while  at crease     : 38562
% of balls faced while at crease:  51.2%
Total team runs                 : 63049
Batsman Runs %                  :  19.0%

The runs added with late order batsmen are not very high. Lara's average is around 60. Tendulkar is much higher at 69.6. But let me say that 100% data is not available for the batsmen who started the career before 1992 or so.

Lara's overall runs contribution to his team total is a reasonably high 19%. Bradman has contributed 25%. Most batsmen contribute between 15 and 17%. It is understandable that Lara scores 55% of runs while at crease. He outscored his fellow batsmen often.

Innings analysis

Description    T   I  N  Runs   Avge 100  50 Freq Team-Runs %

Inns 1 58 1 4000 70.18 12 12 4.8 18111 22.1% Inns 2 72 0 4249 59.01 13 21 5.5 23053 18.4% Inns 3 56 0 2264 40.43 7 8 8.0 12704 17.8% Inns 4 46 5 1440 35.12 2 7 23.0 9181 15.7%

The innings runs and averages follow a similar pattern. Most batsmen have high-first, high-second, reasonable-third and average-fourth innings values. Lara is no exception. There are many other top batsmen who have better third and fourth innings figures. Kallis has a third innings average of 68.8 and Gavaskar, a fourth innings average of 58.7.

Home/Away analysis

Home          65 111  5  6217  58.65  17  26  6.5 32020 19.4%
Away          66 121  1  5736  47.80  17  22  7.1 31029 18.5%

This again has the same pattern as most batsmen. Lara has averaged 20% better at home. There are batsmen who have done 30-40% better at home. On the flip side, Cook averages 43.5 at home and 54.3 away. Dravid also averages better away. However no one can beat Barrington who averages 51.2 and 68.9. It is clear that Lara has not set the foreign grounds alight, barring probably Sri Lankan.

Result based analysis

Won           32  52  4  2929  61.02   8  16  6.5 15645 18.7%
Drawn         36  54  2  3708  71.31  12  10  4.5 18400 20.2%
Lost          63 126  0  5316  42.19  14  22  9.0 29004 18.3%

This is a dicey area. The common tendency is only to talk about performances in won matches only. That is very nice in strong teams. However in weaker teams it is essential to look at how the player has performed in drawn and lost matches. Anyhow when your team only has won only 25% of matches you have played in, there is no other alternative. This point was also emphasized by in a comment made recently.

Lara's average of 42 in lost matches is the highest amongst all contemporary batsmen. Similarly the % of team runs scored in lost matches is a very high 18.3%, the highest amongst all modern batsmen. His performance in drawn matches is also very good and is matched only by Kallis.

Probably the more important factor is that Lara has maintained his contributions to the team runs at an even keel whether the matches are won, drawn or lost. This is a trait most batsmen lack in and most followers do not understand and appreciate. The emphasis is on winning.

Analysis by country faced

Australia     31  58  2  2856  51.00   9  11  6.4 13963 20.5%
Bangladesh     2   2  0   173  86.50   1   1  2.0   911 19.0%
England       30  51  3  2983  62.15   7  11  7.3 13918 21.4%
India         17  29  0  1002  34.55   2   6 14.5  8908 11.2%
New Zealand   11  17  0   704  41.41   1   5 17.0  5080 13.9%
Pakistan      12  22  0  1173  53.32   4   3  5.5  6109 19.2%
South Africa  18  35  0  1715  49.00   4   9  8.8  9432 18.2%
Sri Lanka      8  14  1  1125  86.54   5   2  2.8  3577 31.5%
Zimbabwe       2   4  0   222  55.50   1   0  4.0  1151 19.3%

It is clear that Lara met his match against the Indian bowlers. Any talk about weakness against spin should be killed at birth because of his performance against Sri Lanka. New Zealand was another team which troubled him. But bring on England and Sri Lanka, he was on song. The average against Australia might not look great but let us not forget the quality of Australian bowling he faced. He played only 4 Tests against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe and probably did not care much about accumulating runs. It is amazing that Lara has scored nearly a third of the team runs scored against Sri Lanka. And over 20% of the team runs scored against Australia and England.

Batting position analysis

Bat-Pos  1         1  0    20  20.00   0   0  0.0
Bat-Pos  2         1  0    91  91.00   0   1  0.0
Bat-Pos  3        66  4  3749  60.47   9  13  7.3
Bat-Pos  4       148  1  7535  51.26  24  31  6.2
Bat-Pos  5        14  1   536  41.23   1   3 14.0
Bat-Pos  6         1  0     8   8.00   0   0  0.0
Bat-Pos  8         1  0    14  14.00   0   0  0.0
Avge Batting Position:  3.78
Like Tendulkar, no.4 was his favourite batting position. However unlike his fellow not-so-tall-legend, he batted at no.3 often. He averaged over 60 at no.3 and above 50 at no.4. These were his bread-and-butter positions and he performed very well there. Incidentally the sole no.5 century was the most famous of all: the Bridgetown classic of 153*.

Analysis by year

1990           1   2  0    49  24.50   0   0  0.0
1991           0   0  0     0   0.00   0   0  0.0
1992           3   6  0   195  32.50   0   3  0.0
1993           7  10  0   586  58.60   1   3 10.0
1994           8  14  0   996  71.14   2   4  7.0
1995          12  20  2  1222  67.89   4   6  5.0
1996           5   9  0   226  25.11   0   1  0.0
1997          12  21  0   859  40.90   3   3  7.0
1998           9  15  1   608  43.43   0   5  0.0
1999           8  15  1   832  59.43   3   4  5.0
2000           9  17  0   497  29.24   2   1  8.5
2001           9  18  0  1151  63.94   3   4  6.0
2002           7  10  0   351  35.10   0   3  0.0
2003          10  19  1  1344  74.67   5   5  3.8
2004          12  21  1  1178  58.90   3   4  7.0
2005           9  17  0  1110  65.29   5   0  3.4
2006          10  18  0   749  41.61   3   2  6.0

Ignoring the starting years, Lara probably had three bad years, 1996, 2000 and 2002. The spreading of these years also was responsible for Lara comfortably maintaining averages of well over 50 over multi-year spans. He made up for his small scores with huge scores.

Peer comparisons

Peer-All-T7  232 11953 52.89 14372 523291 36.41 1.45
Peer-Team-T7 232 11953 52.89  1268  40252 31.74 1.67

Lara out-performed his peers by a margin of 45% and his team-mates by 67%. While there are others who have out-performed their peers by higher margins, Kallis by 52%, there is no one even close in the team-mates comparisons. He was head-and-shoulders above them.

The 165 to 400 progression

Charles Bannerman scored 165 on the opening day of Test cricket (okay 126 and then on to 165 on the next day). Since then the individual batting record has been improved by 9 batsmen a total of 10 times. The progression is interesting and can be seen in Cricinfo. A few interesting trivia on this progression are presented here.

The biggest move upwards happened when RE Foster scored 287 in his debut Test and went past Murdoch's 211 by 76 runs. The lowest was by Sobers' single run when he declared once he went past Hutton.

The longest standing record was Sobers' 365 which stood for 13198 days before Lara went past that mark. On the flip side, Sandham's 325 did not last for 100 days. Hayden was the undisputed king for 184 days before Lara regained his record. Bradman's 334 just fell short of 1000 days. The current record of Lara has gone past 3100 days and counting.

The slowest amongst these innings was Hutton's 364 which consumed 847 balls. Imagine one batsman batting past 140 overs. The fastest must have been Hammond's 336 against the New Zealand part-timers. I could extrapolate to around 400 balls. My feeling is that this would be below Hayden's 437 balls. Interesting that both hit 10 and 11 sixes respectively.

The breaking of this record has happened at The Oval twice and St.John's twice. The record-breakers group comprises of 4 Australian, 4 English and 3 West Indian batsmen.

For all the difficulty in reaching 400 runs, I expect that there is a better chance of this record being broken than another 10-wicket haul. What it requires is a flat pitch, a free-scoring batsman at the top, with a penchant for big innings, a series situation which allows the captain to bat for two plus days et al. A better bet would be if such a team bats second and has dismissed the other team for a low total.

The high notes of Lara

The Bridgetown classic of 153 remains, for me, the best Test innings ever played. I watched every ball of that epic, dying a few hundred deaths, in a few hours. Against a top class bowling attack, West Indies had a formidable target of over 300 and were 78 for 3 when Lara walked in. Soon Hooper was dismissed and the score was 105 for 5. Adams stuck in admirably and Lara added 133 with him, outscoring him 2 to 1. Then McGrath struck and dismissed Adams, Jacobs and Perry. The score was 248 for 8 and suddenly the writing appeared on the wall: a 50-run loss perhaps. Ambrose played the most important 38 balls of his life and helped Lara add 54 for the ninth wicket. He was dismissed at 302 when 9 were still needed. Walsh, in turn, hung on for 5 more balls and Lara won the match with a cover-drive to reach 153 and complete one of the greatest of wins, himself playing one of the greatest innings ever. My prose is woefully short to describe this innings.

Lara himself, while referring to Wisden's top placement of 153, has anointed the 213 as his best innings. Makes a lot of sense since he was involved in both and knows the scenarios, within the match, in the team and in the series, inside out. He alone felt the impact of the disastrous 51 and knew the value of the stupendous 213. The 213 was also the technically better innings and would grace anyone's top-20 Test innings of all time. But for me, it is the second best.

The 277 announced Lara's genius to the world in no uncertain terms. It was his first hundred and showed the world that he was going to play high innings at a good pace. The 277 was scored in 372 balls. A reasonable Australian attack and a flat pitch but it was a path-breaker.

400 was an important innings. I have talked about this innings elsewhere. His record set a couple of years back was lost but Lara regained the same within a short period. The highest score amongst 70000 odd innings played cannot be dismissed as irrelevant.

The earlier 375 was equally important. A 36 year milestone was crossed and deserves the same recognition as the other momentous landmarks, such as the 10-wkt performances. When two bowlers have captured all 10 wickets in an innings in a Test history of 135 years, recognition is a must. As for the 350+ performances.

The recent 120 against India was a defensive classic. West Indies followed on 370 runs behind and Lara played a 7-hour back-to-the-wall innings which saved the Test, by the skin of the teeth. But for Lara's innings, West Indies would have lost by an innings and plenty.

91 is an innings which remains fresh in my memory. At the end of an indifferent tour to India in 1994, Lara played fluently and reached 91 when he feathered a catch to Mongia. No one, including the umpires, heard the snick (Venkat confirms this), but Lara walked. I am not sure many would have. Justice was served with a West Indian victory.

Lara's 132 at Perth in 1997 was a magnificent innings on a tough pitch, as evidenced by the two Australian totals of 243 and 194. His match-winning 132 was scored out of 208 runs added while Lara was at the crease.

The Pakistan attack in 2005 was nothing great. However Lara played one of his fastest innings to help West Indies win the Barbados Test. On the opening day, Lara scored 130 in 120 balls and Pakistan never recovered from this onslaught.

The Adelaide Test towards end of 2005 was Lara's last Test against Australia, his toughest and most favourite opponent. Against a top-class bowling attack, Lara scored an exceptional innings of 226 in 298 balls. That West Indies lost was a testament to the lack of support for Lara.

Sri Lanka scored 627 and West Indies barely managed to cross this in their two innings at SSC, Colombo in 2001. Lara scores 221 and 130 out of the 650 scored by West Indies: 55% of the team runs against a very potent Sri Lankan attack. Lara blunted Muralitharan but the rest fell prey to Vaas.

Two out of three ODI innings of Lara's which stand out are huge 150+ innings. The first is the Sharjah classic of 153 in 143 balls. Pakistan scored an imposing 284, aided by a blitz from Basit Ali of 127 in 79 balls. Lara's wonderful innings, while opening the batting, helped West Indies complete an easy win. Again Sharjah, a few years later. Lara's top-drawer 169 in 129 balls helped West Indies reach 333. Sri Lanka batted spiritedly and lost by 4 runs, increasing the value of Lara's innings. The third was a wonderfully constructed 94-ball 111 in the 1996 World Cup quarter final against South Africa. The win was a close one and it was probably the most important ODI innings played by Lara.

Two niggles cleared

Let me set two records straight. First the uninformed and biased criticism of 400 as not in the team's interest. First, the facts. West Indies are 595 for 5 and Lara is on 313, at the end of the second day. Lara continues on the third day, completes his 400 and declares at 751 for 5. The immense scoreboard pressure is on, even on the flattest of tracks. England is dismissed for 285 and follows on. The pitch continues to be as flat as a highway. They save the match, scoring 422 for 5, still in arrears. West Indies might very well have won by an innings had Lara not dropped Vaughan at 27. Let me emphasize the following points:
- Only way for West Indies to win was by batting once and winning by an innings.
- Scoreboard pressure was the only way to win. And you are not going to create the same without putting up a huge total.
- This was not Melbourne or Eden Gardens or Lord's. This was Antigua, vying with Faisalabad or Premadasa on their flatness quotients.
- West Indies came close to winning. England were still in arrears at the end of the Test.
- Finally blame Lara the fielder for not winning the match: not Lara, the captain or batsman.

If scoring 400 was a selfish act, then I would say that almost every high score is a selfish act. Be it a 200 or 300 or 400. Michael Clarke could have gone to cross 400 and still won. But he would have looked selfish if India had held on. He would certainly have needed the rest of the day to reach 400. He accounted for one day of rain and gave up a personal milestone in the process. These situations are totally different.

The second is the truth of the statement that Lara was certainly hounded out when he still had two years of Test cricket in him. His Test average during 2006 was 41, not earth-shattering but still higher than many top batsman's recent 12-month averages. The following is the sequence of events.
- After an average WC as batsman and captain, Lara announces his retirement from ODIs. Seems the perfect time.
- He also says that he would look at his Test career after the England tour. Nothing seems to be wrong there. He has always done well against England.
- Then the West Indian selectors, prompted by vested interests, come out with a statement that there was no certainly that Lara would be selected for the England tour. This, while discussing the team's best batsman and with no great assets at their disposal.
- What does Lara do? The proud man that he is, he announces his retirement from all forms of cricket. Mission accomplished, for certain people. Who lost out in the end? West Indian Cricket certainly.
- It is surprising that the great Test player that Lara was, he played 16 ODI matches after his last Test!!!

I wait to be corrected.

In the light of what has been detailed above, maybe a more appropriate add-on to the title of the article might have been "The Unfinished Symphony": borrowed from Schubert rather than "Bohemian Rhapsody" from Queen.

Concluding words

Lara has never been involved in any incident on field. In this matter he is exactly like his close friend, the one who, at last measurement was three inches shorter and a few Test runs richer!!! His fracas with the WICB on payments was something he did on behalf of himself and his team-mates.

Where is Lara placed in the pantheon of batting greats? On numbers, nowhere, as do many of the other modern greats. However if we strictly rely on numbers, Lohmann and Barrington are certainties in any selection. There are many other factors. Many batsmen compete for the coveted second spot amongst Test batsmen. Sobers, Hobbs, Tendulkar, Lara, Richards, Hutton and Ponting form a reasonably populated group from which to pick one. I would not question anyone whose selection varies from mine. But as far as I am concerned, Lara is the candidate for this coveted position. If I have to justify this with numbers, a string of numbers would do: 153, 213, 688, 400, 375, 277 and 226.

If I sit down to select an all-time best eleven (or fifteen) I would immediately write down the following three names. Then go for a cup of coffee, put my feet up and think, refer to my database (why? I probably have all the relevant numbers in my head) and then fill the other names over a day. This I say, implying no disrespect to any of the other greats who would eventually find their way into the team.

Bradman
Lara
Gilchrist

Sir (!) Brian Lara, hope the Queen reads this, many thanks for the lovely memories. How I wish you had played for couple of more years. I am sure there was a superlative innings of 212 or 232 in the horizon. But does not matter. You have played enough masterpieces, to be savoured and treasured by all your followers.

Anantha Narayanan has written for ESPNcricinfo and CastrolCricket and worked with a number of companies on their cricket performance ratings-related systems

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Jomesh George on December 19, 2012, 11:56 GMT

    Lara retired from all forms of Cricket.But still we are able to see some glimpes of his batting style through Darren Bravo his cousine.I hope he will improve a lot to reach the height of Lara.Lara was a rare creature having everything needed for a great batsman.Class,style,elegance,control,temperament and also he had brutal power of a carribean.

  • Spencer on November 20, 2012, 0:26 GMT

    Sir Vivian Richards and Brian Lara just headlined a T20 charity match (to fight serious disease) in Australia, vs a team headlined by Adam Gilchrist. A brisk 48 by Lara dazzled the crowds. Lara is typically thought of as a Test player and not a ODI man, but look carefully and he was a fine ODI player. The way he accelerated some of his ODI innings' were phenomenal.

  • Spencer on November 17, 2012, 17:42 GMT

    Chaitanya, Lara was also called the first 360 degree player, referring to the circle his bat makes, moving from above his head (beyond the 12 o clock position) to a position over 360 degrees back the other way. Typically you can measure how confident or "in flow" Lara is by how high his backlift is. The more aggressive and confident he is, the higher his bat goes until its either vertical or "beyond" the vertical position. Search the phrase "Brian Lara 202 vs SA, Dec 2003, New Wanderers" on youtube for a good example of the escalating backlift. Typically the longer he's in, the higher the bat goes.

    You would have to look at full, longer videos on youtube to get a better example of his gentler, defter shots. Highlight vids typically only show him smashing like a mercenary.

  • Spence on November 17, 2012, 17:30 GMT

    No Chaitanya, Lara didn't bat the same way. Early in his career he was a big hooker, good stroke player, look for a lot of fours, perfected a hop and clip off the hip shot. Google "most beautiful shot ever by Lara" on youtube and you will see the style of early Lara.

    As he got older he got stronger; big sixes, lofty forward drives, lots of cuts, but also very very deft shots behind the wicket, reverse sweeps and aggressive footwork, taking 2 or 3 steps up to spin. In short, he had the brutality of a Viv Richards, combined with an incredible gentle, deftness. He had a shot where he barely touches the ball and it slices between keeper and first slip fast, bouncing between them. He could pick the holes between slips at will.

  • Lara Kasi on November 16, 2012, 18:16 GMT

    Exceptional article!!!!! But u should have his 100 against australia in Antigua from 82 balls and his 116* in one day against australia in SCG...that could have been one day 153 if the rain would not have interrupted......

  • Chaitanya on November 16, 2012, 18:00 GMT

    I have cricketing memory from 2007 India tour of England and ofcourse the horrendous 2007 WC for us and strangely enough 2003WC, exclusively India matches [ Especially the one against Pak.I was way too young then ]. I never saw Lara live on TV. And hours of YouTube videos are never good indicator of any player.How would you describe Lara's batting style, his game? From what little I have seen it certainly isn't beautiful,atleast for me. I feel his game resembles to that of Nadal [ I know this is not a good analogy ] brutal,not always pleasant. Did he always bat the same way? Would like hear from you. Great blog. [[ Sehwag is more like Nadal. Lara is difficult to compare. Ananth: ]]

  • Vinish Garg on October 24, 2012, 18:09 GMT

    Can I ask readers for what all reasons we come to this cricinfo site? It can be fixtures, live scores, news, columns, interviews, and Ananth's blog.

    Same way, why we watch cricket... for Warne, Kallis, SRT, Akram, Lara, Walsh, Gilly, stumps, catch, boundary, appeal....

    If I map both these two series, I will say that **Lara is to cricket what Ananth's blog is to cricinfo**. [[ Thanks, you have made my day (and week). Ananth: ]]

  • Jimmy on October 20, 2012, 18:42 GMT

    Found these quotes to be apt reflection of Lara's different facets:

    "I would be so attracted to his persona that I wouldn't know where to bowl...His body-language was just too cool!" - Shoaib Akhtar

    "Where is Brian Lara?" - The first question posed by Nelson Mandela after his arrival in Trinidad.

    "He was awesome. When he got out I went up to him and told him it was the greatest batting in a series I've ever experienced, for or against." - Brian Lara on Jacques Kallis

    "I know that a number of the team don't like Lara and that they are scared of him." - Hendy Bryan

    "At the very end, a man who throughout his career had done so much to mask the deficiencies of his team had been undone by the foible of a team-mate. It was sad, but it was apt." - Will Buckley on Lara's final innings

  • Errol E on October 19, 2012, 17:02 GMT

    One important aspect of Lara's genius often goes unnoticed by even the most meticulous researchers. While making the highest score by any batsman in FC cricket he also made the most runs by any batsman in a single day of FC cricket. Forget the pitch; forget the attack. There have been flat pitches and weak attacks galore throughout history, yet no one else has even come close to matching Lara's high-intensity scoring, which produced nearly 400 runs in just 3 sessions of a FC game.On his supposed selfishness-- his record 400 meant more to WIndians than winning a test in a lost series.Lara's world record means infinitely more to us and always will.

  • Sarosh on October 13, 2012, 10:02 GMT

    Over the wicket is the natural way for most bowlers to bowl. Round the wicket is more an acquired art .Only a few bowlers are effective round the wicket and can make it look natural. Left hand bowlers and slow bowlers are in general better round the wicket.

    A check of the bowled percentages of modern left hand batsmen show ranges from a low Cook (6%) and Sangakkara (10%) to a high of Gayle (17%- the most flat-footed batsmen among them). The average bowled percentage figure seems to be in the low teens. So, Lara and Sobers are on the higher side of the range.

    Dr.Talha- Yes, Lara was hot in that last series. The wickets were dead and he wanted to put on a show – which he did. This series is probably what left the Lara fans wanting more. The previous few series weren't that good, but still not bad. I think SRTs reflexes are definitely slowing. I feel he wants to make sure for himself! One thing for sure, even if he is almost 40- don't write off SRT. Everyone went to town in 2006 when he could barely put bat to ball. And he bounced back after a year for 5 top years. Too would be too much to ask for now – but still.

  • Jomesh George on December 19, 2012, 11:56 GMT

    Lara retired from all forms of Cricket.But still we are able to see some glimpes of his batting style through Darren Bravo his cousine.I hope he will improve a lot to reach the height of Lara.Lara was a rare creature having everything needed for a great batsman.Class,style,elegance,control,temperament and also he had brutal power of a carribean.

  • Spencer on November 20, 2012, 0:26 GMT

    Sir Vivian Richards and Brian Lara just headlined a T20 charity match (to fight serious disease) in Australia, vs a team headlined by Adam Gilchrist. A brisk 48 by Lara dazzled the crowds. Lara is typically thought of as a Test player and not a ODI man, but look carefully and he was a fine ODI player. The way he accelerated some of his ODI innings' were phenomenal.

  • Spencer on November 17, 2012, 17:42 GMT

    Chaitanya, Lara was also called the first 360 degree player, referring to the circle his bat makes, moving from above his head (beyond the 12 o clock position) to a position over 360 degrees back the other way. Typically you can measure how confident or "in flow" Lara is by how high his backlift is. The more aggressive and confident he is, the higher his bat goes until its either vertical or "beyond" the vertical position. Search the phrase "Brian Lara 202 vs SA, Dec 2003, New Wanderers" on youtube for a good example of the escalating backlift. Typically the longer he's in, the higher the bat goes.

    You would have to look at full, longer videos on youtube to get a better example of his gentler, defter shots. Highlight vids typically only show him smashing like a mercenary.

  • Spence on November 17, 2012, 17:30 GMT

    No Chaitanya, Lara didn't bat the same way. Early in his career he was a big hooker, good stroke player, look for a lot of fours, perfected a hop and clip off the hip shot. Google "most beautiful shot ever by Lara" on youtube and you will see the style of early Lara.

    As he got older he got stronger; big sixes, lofty forward drives, lots of cuts, but also very very deft shots behind the wicket, reverse sweeps and aggressive footwork, taking 2 or 3 steps up to spin. In short, he had the brutality of a Viv Richards, combined with an incredible gentle, deftness. He had a shot where he barely touches the ball and it slices between keeper and first slip fast, bouncing between them. He could pick the holes between slips at will.

  • Lara Kasi on November 16, 2012, 18:16 GMT

    Exceptional article!!!!! But u should have his 100 against australia in Antigua from 82 balls and his 116* in one day against australia in SCG...that could have been one day 153 if the rain would not have interrupted......

  • Chaitanya on November 16, 2012, 18:00 GMT

    I have cricketing memory from 2007 India tour of England and ofcourse the horrendous 2007 WC for us and strangely enough 2003WC, exclusively India matches [ Especially the one against Pak.I was way too young then ]. I never saw Lara live on TV. And hours of YouTube videos are never good indicator of any player.How would you describe Lara's batting style, his game? From what little I have seen it certainly isn't beautiful,atleast for me. I feel his game resembles to that of Nadal [ I know this is not a good analogy ] brutal,not always pleasant. Did he always bat the same way? Would like hear from you. Great blog. [[ Sehwag is more like Nadal. Lara is difficult to compare. Ananth: ]]

  • Vinish Garg on October 24, 2012, 18:09 GMT

    Can I ask readers for what all reasons we come to this cricinfo site? It can be fixtures, live scores, news, columns, interviews, and Ananth's blog.

    Same way, why we watch cricket... for Warne, Kallis, SRT, Akram, Lara, Walsh, Gilly, stumps, catch, boundary, appeal....

    If I map both these two series, I will say that **Lara is to cricket what Ananth's blog is to cricinfo**. [[ Thanks, you have made my day (and week). Ananth: ]]

  • Jimmy on October 20, 2012, 18:42 GMT

    Found these quotes to be apt reflection of Lara's different facets:

    "I would be so attracted to his persona that I wouldn't know where to bowl...His body-language was just too cool!" - Shoaib Akhtar

    "Where is Brian Lara?" - The first question posed by Nelson Mandela after his arrival in Trinidad.

    "He was awesome. When he got out I went up to him and told him it was the greatest batting in a series I've ever experienced, for or against." - Brian Lara on Jacques Kallis

    "I know that a number of the team don't like Lara and that they are scared of him." - Hendy Bryan

    "At the very end, a man who throughout his career had done so much to mask the deficiencies of his team had been undone by the foible of a team-mate. It was sad, but it was apt." - Will Buckley on Lara's final innings

  • Errol E on October 19, 2012, 17:02 GMT

    One important aspect of Lara's genius often goes unnoticed by even the most meticulous researchers. While making the highest score by any batsman in FC cricket he also made the most runs by any batsman in a single day of FC cricket. Forget the pitch; forget the attack. There have been flat pitches and weak attacks galore throughout history, yet no one else has even come close to matching Lara's high-intensity scoring, which produced nearly 400 runs in just 3 sessions of a FC game.On his supposed selfishness-- his record 400 meant more to WIndians than winning a test in a lost series.Lara's world record means infinitely more to us and always will.

  • Sarosh on October 13, 2012, 10:02 GMT

    Over the wicket is the natural way for most bowlers to bowl. Round the wicket is more an acquired art .Only a few bowlers are effective round the wicket and can make it look natural. Left hand bowlers and slow bowlers are in general better round the wicket.

    A check of the bowled percentages of modern left hand batsmen show ranges from a low Cook (6%) and Sangakkara (10%) to a high of Gayle (17%- the most flat-footed batsmen among them). The average bowled percentage figure seems to be in the low teens. So, Lara and Sobers are on the higher side of the range.

    Dr.Talha- Yes, Lara was hot in that last series. The wickets were dead and he wanted to put on a show – which he did. This series is probably what left the Lara fans wanting more. The previous few series weren't that good, but still not bad. I think SRTs reflexes are definitely slowing. I feel he wants to make sure for himself! One thing for sure, even if he is almost 40- don't write off SRT. Everyone went to town in 2006 when he could barely put bat to ball. And he bounced back after a year for 5 top years. Too would be too much to ask for now – but still.

  • Dr. talha on October 13, 2012, 5:58 GMT

    @Ananth."At least the last interview Tendulkar has accepted that he has to go somewhere" I hope the indian selectors dont do the same with SRT what WI selectors did with Lara. Lara is perhaps the only batsman in history to have scored 448 runs (including a 100 & a double)in 3 tests at an average of 89.60, in his last series, and then being retired. [[ No selector, in the next 5 years, is even going to even raise this topic once in any forum. We recently saw what happened to Mohinder Amarnath who sought to raise a difficult topic. He was unceremoniously booted out. Ananth: ]] I believe SRT should retire from ODI's, after the upcoming 3 match series against Pak. I think that would be an excellent stage to give a farewell to the great man. The 3rd ODI should be his last. In tests,i may be wrong, but i have this feeling that sachin will show his brillinace, in the upcoming series against Eng, Aus and then SAF. Lets see what happens..

  • Ananth on October 13, 2012, 5:38 GMT

    Need a clarification/confirmation. It is my reading and understanding that the Wides and No Balls were debited to the Bowlers' Analysis from Test # 961, India-Pakistan Test played during September 1983 at Bangalore. I need concurrence on this. If possible point to web evidence. I have read this in Wikipedia. Also was this effective in all matches after this one or was it left to the individual scorers. If so, is there a date when this was made mandatory. Needed for my next article, after the Bowler Pairs one. Ananth

  • Alex on October 12, 2012, 18:21 GMT

    @Som & skrikanthk: Incidentally, the numbers are (30%, 9%) for the Don, (22%, 12%) for Hobbs, (28%, 7%) for Hammond, and (24%, 10%) for Hutton. The low percentage of LBW for the oldies is probably due to the old LBW law.

  • Ananth on October 12, 2012, 17:33 GMT

    I have had a series of server problems and some within Cricinfo. So I have not received any comment after Som's comment (on October 12, 2012 at 10:21 AM). If you sent one and that was not published, please re-reansmit the same. Those of you who have my mailid could alert me. Thanks Ananth Probably okay since this comment was sent and published.

  • Som on October 12, 2012, 10:21 GMT

    Thanks Alex for the bowled/LBW numbers. Gavaskar's less than 5% LBW, when others are on an average 2.5 times more prone? This is far far from the median and a statistical marvel. Wonder what can one conclude from this? On the middle and leg stamp, he was the king?

    Ananth - Feel sorry for Mohinder Amarnath. This was the perfect opportunity for him to show why selectors are not a bunch of jokers, but it was not to be.

  • Som on October 12, 2012, 10:17 GMT

    Ananth - I saw the Sachin interview. And regarding his retirement he came out exactly as I always believed his philosophy is. Concerns that endorsement, money, records motivate him to continue may not be true. He just loves the game and loves playing for India. Where he fell short was stating that, like his inclusion in the India team 23 yrs back was a selection decision of the committee, so should his exit be. And since his love for the game is above everything else, he does not mind getting dropped and that is philosophically the only natural way to go, like in life. The only problem is, with all that he has achieved, it becomes very hard for selectors to yield the axe, when they are confident its time for him to go. Personally I feel, he has not yet collected enough data on failed innings in the current phase to warrant that decision. I would wait for him to fail some more, wishing against it, knowing that every failure now adds higher weight against him than before. [[ As a true Sachin supporter, contrary to what many readers of this blog believe, your last para is what I fear. I don't want a repeat, even a partial one, of Kapil Dev situation. Ananth: ]]

  • Sarosh on October 12, 2012, 10:12 GMT

    Ananth, I wonder why you haven’t posted a previous comment. Was it because I said that one would not pick Lara against a multi-pronged pace attack?! [[ Partly. That is your view and I am sure not even 1% of Lara-supporters would have done what you have suggested. But I wanted to avoid unnecessary comments. There would be 20 in all. Even now I am asking readers to ignore this. Ananth: ]] In any case, I checked some things for a PART of the comment. First part, I think.

    And it’s true about McGrath/Warne appearing more times in the Wisden 100 batting list than the bowling list! In the Wisden Top 100 Test innings there are 5 against Mcgrath/Warne. If we include a later entry of Butcher at No.48. In fact, 5 out the Top 50 are against Warne/McGrath (All losses for Aus) As opposed to a solitary entry for Warne in the Best bowling list; no McGrath surprisingly (or Marshall). Am I right about this? Or have I missed something?

    Other appearances in the Wisden batting list: 3 innings against Donald/Pollock. (1 loss, 1 draw, 1 win) 2 Ambrose/Walsh (2 losses) 1 Wasim/Waqar (loss) [[ The current compilation is and will be quite different. That was my first round win and over 10 years old. Now I have to play in the semi finals and in front of many tough spectators. I suggest wait for some time. Anyhow Warne & McGrath do not even appear remotely in the Wisden-100 Batting list. The bowlers only contribute around 10-15% of the Rating points. Then ground, opposition, innings and many other factors should come in. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on October 12, 2012, 10:12 GMT

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifaaubN92S8

    @Gerry. Managed to find a brief clip of the ball in question - not half bad as you say.

  • Sarosh on October 12, 2012, 10:05 GMT

    Alex, The stats you put up make only for interesting reading. Not conclusions. Firstly, we require comparing like to like. I.e. Left handed batsmen to left handed batsmen. They mostly face right arm bowlers so the chances of getting bowled straight away reduce Again; attacking and defensive batsmen are essentially different. . Second, LBWs are very much a matter of opinion and a difference of a few percentages between batsmen here is too vague. If there is a substantial difference one may take notice. Once DRS is fully implemented we may take this into account.

    So, if we take other attacking left handed batsmen we get bowled figures for e.g. Hayden (12 %) and Gilchrist (14 %).

    I also think that the attacking batsmen have MORE chances of getting caught than bowled or LBW because the bat speed on an attacking shot will probably result in some sort of contact with the ball than simply a dead bat. This may, however, result in more edges behind square. A dead bat will reduce the chance of getting caught but increase the chances of missing the ball.

    For e.g. If I remember in Lara’s last Pak tour he got bowled to Umar Gul of a defensive push. A more flamboyant swing may have resulted in runs, or a catch.

  • Vikram on October 12, 2012, 7:18 GMT

    Funny, isn't it. For BCL, it is about 2 lost years, for SRT, it is two years that should be chopped off. If only he had retired after the 2011 world cup, not just from ODI bit even from tests. Might even have meant that VVS' career would have been extended. Either ways, if only the selectors had done their job properly. Again, these two just seem inseparable. [[ Nail on the head. The bunch of jokers everywhere, on either side of the Atlantic. And the one guy who could have proved himself not to be a joker has been summarily thrown out. I am sorry to say this, the Chennai nexus is costing the game dearly. At least the last interview Tendulkar has accepted that he has to go somewhere. Even then he could not come out and spell out his plans. Before any reader compleins, I am not going off on a tangent, but this is the only place where I could say this. No more. The next article is totally different. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on October 11, 2012, 20:12 GMT

    @Wasp:

    1. Besides a 300-ball 120 vs Ind in '06 that saved that test, Lara has only one 100 at SR<50. In all, he has only 6 50+ scores at SR<50. Often, his SR is less than 50 (or even 40) in only the innings in which he failed. If you let him stick around then there was no way of stopping him so that the only solution was to get him out, as simple as that.

    2. Lara was bowled in 15% dismissals and LBW in 14%. These numbers for notable greats are:

    SRT: (17, 17) SMG: (20, 5(!!)) RD: (20, 12) Sobers: (20, 12) GSC: (14, 12) Viv: (13, 19) RTP: (13, 18) Kallis: (19, 15) KP: (15, 18) Boyctt: (16, 15).

    Of course, you can be bowled/LBW while attempting an attacking shot but these numbers are still interesting for a defensive technique study. Lara's defensive technique+mindset was about the weakest of this lot but his % are very good. IMO, this underscores the quickness of his hands and his ability to pick the line & length correctly.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on October 11, 2012, 17:01 GMT

    Boll, the ball from Waqar which bowled Ponting in the Hobart match was one of the several great feats of that match. That ball would have claimed any batsman. It was a superfast off cutter timed at 145k, almost as unplayable as Brett Lee's similar ball to Attapattu in the World Cup semi final in 2003. It is a privilege to watch such bowling, though in Waqar's case, it was a bit off character, given that he was struggling to maintain his rhythm and pace at that stage of his career and was not a sure selection in the final XI. No shame on Ponting. [[ I will publish this since it is inoffensive. Probably really belongs to the next article. Ananth: ]]

  • JimmyT on October 11, 2012, 16:57 GMT

    In Trinidad, the consensus seems to be that Lara was pushed out of cricket at least 2 years early. The selectors hated him and were dropping him, dispite him being in good form (average 60 in Tests when dropped?). He then retired rather than being kicked. [[ That I agree with. I am especially unhappy with Gordon G with whom I had worked when I did my television work. He could have recognized what Lara wanted and given him that. Which was 2 years of Test cricket, not even as captain. Ananth: ]] “Brian Lara. He is the best! He is my all-time favourite, and not just amongst left-handers. It used to be Richards but I think Lara maybe just a bit ahead of him now on my list of batsmen that I would love to watch. He was exceptional; his back-lift, his flair his aggressiveness. It was unbelievable. I wish I had that back-lift. You know that little flourish and that huge amount of momentum he would build through it; but it’s hard to copy genius.” - Sangakkara

    “I used to enjoy watching Lara bat even when I was playing against him. It was a privilege to stand at mid-off and observe his brilliance, but because it was one of my team-mates who was getting clattered through the covers, I dared not smile. Occasionally a colleague and I would look at each other after the ball had thudded into an advertising board, purse our lips and emit a little "ooh". We realised how fortunate we were.” - Angus Fraser [[ Thank you, Jim. Sanga, with his excellent command over the language and Angus, a bit more personal. Ananth: ]]

  • JimmyT on October 11, 2012, 16:53 GMT

    After his 375, Lara admitted he was aiming for 400. Why didn't he make the 25 extra runs? I think the award ceremony that followed the record break, as well as the hordes of onlookers rushing the pitch, exhausted him, broke his concentration and interupted things. Play should have either not been stopped, or he should have been given a break after the ceremony.

    After the 400, Lara said it was always a personal goal to make a 100,200,300,400 and 500. These are the kinds of goals he sets himself.

    People forget the influence of Rohan Kanhai on Lara. The demise in WI cricket coincided with Kanhai's retirement as coach. He was also Lara's personal mentor for a while. I recall the two discussing technique; "you wouldn't teach what he does in schools, but it works for him" (on Lara's high backlift and busy footwork). But Kanhai had a similar, flashing, attacking high-but-graceful backlift.

  • Som on October 11, 2012, 15:16 GMT

    Ananth - I know you plan to do a similar tribute on Sachin after he retires. But I suspect, like now, space would be a constraint and it may not be possible to cover all aspects of his game in one article. Why not start with his ODI achievements sometime now, as he has almost completed 95% of his career. There is little doubt that in ODI he has been the most Bradmansque of all.

    Often a lot of his admirers bring in their remembrance of his genius in the ODI game to conclude that he has been a master of all that he has surveyed (including tests). Though close, that is not entirely true. One way to de-link that perception is to have two different tributes. [[ Good idea, I agree. 5% you say. That is 23 games. In the last 3 years Tednulkar has played fewer games. So I am not going to take that chance. If it comes to 99% I will start looking serious. Anyhow I do not have an ODI analysis program ready. Nor a bowler analysis program. They all have to wait. AT least 5/6 articles are already there on the plate. As Cecil Rhodes said as he bade his final good-bye "So little done, so much to do.". Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on October 11, 2012, 15:02 GMT

    @Ananth: The respect in which BCL is held by Cricinfo readers of this blog, primarily Indians (I suspect), is evident from the fact that this tribute, published 5 yrs after his retirement, earned 250+ responses whereas VVS's tribute, published immediately after his retirement, earned less than 150 comments, despite VVS being pretty much everyone's darling.

    @Boll: I only mentioned that RTP has no 100 vs W&W ... no other conclusion was intended. Lara's record of big 100's shows that, in sync, he was the most formidable batsman bar Don --- again, the "sync" does not have that much to do with reflexes but more to do with the ability to read the ball and execute a shot without making a mistake. So, it is worth noting that Lara's big scores came vs quality opposition but not vs out-and-out pace ... I feel we have at last isolated the one, and possibly the only, physical flaw of BCL (the other being, strictly IMO, his possible psychological preference for individuality over team).

  • Boll on October 11, 2012, 14:26 GMT

    Interesting that amongst the group Ananth just mentioned Lara`s conversion rate of 50s to 100s is 41.5%, Sehwag`s is 40.7%, and Zaheer`s only 37.5% - average at best. Bradman ruins it of course by converting 69% of the time (a bit of a let-down considering he was 13/2 after the 2nd Bodyline test).

    Conversions of 100s into 200s...Bradman 41%, Zaheer 33%, Sehwag 27%, Lara 26%.

  • Nitin Gautam on October 11, 2012, 14:25 GMT

    completely off topic.. Just realized this article completed 250 comments. perfect ode to Lara (in accordance with his supreme capacity of making big scores..the article has to cross 250)..

  • Boll on October 11, 2012, 13:50 GMT

    @Alex - which is not to say that Lara`s record against express pace was as good as some. As many people have pointed out, if you`re averaging 50 overall, your average against the best is probably going to be quite a bit less than that. From my perspective, the bowler who gave Lara most trouble however was McGrath (notable exceptions notwithstanding) - generally operating at about 130kph.

    I also wanted to refer back to Ananth`s comment re. Lara`s percentage of scores under 50. I`m not sure it`s as bad as you suggest.

    Of those with 30 centuries or more (10 players), the percentage of innings of 50+ ranges from 31.5% (S.Waugh) to Kallis (37.4%). Lara is pretty much on average at 35.3%, slightly more than Dravid at 34.6%.

    His conversion of 50s to 100s is actually quite low in this group (7th overall) which ranges from 51% for Hayden to 36% for Dravid - Lara is at 41%.

    Where he streaks away is his conversion of 100s into big scores - probably only surpassed by Bradman. [[ Only Sehwag and Zaheer come in close. In fact these two sit in between Bradman and Lara. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on October 11, 2012, 13:07 GMT

    @Alex - I believe Ponting only played one test against the Wasim/Waqar combo, at home in Hobart, and scored a pair (bowled Waqar, LBW Wasim). In his previous innings he was LBW to Shoaib for a duck as well (nice symmetry to that)...

    However, like a few other `records` re. Lara which are being tossed around at the moment it doesn`t really tell the whole story.

    A week later in Perth Ponting scored 197 vs Wasim and Shoaib. A few years after that he scored 141 vs Waqar and Shoaib in SL. A week later he score 150 against Waqar - not to mention the presence of Saqlain throughout all of those innings.

    Overall he averages close to 70 vs Pakistan.

  • Waspsting on October 11, 2012, 12:54 GMT

    Sorry Sree.

    the 1000 character limit is my excuse

    (Occasionally we see a comment that exceeds this, e.g. Victoria on 8 Oct. - I was actually wondering if Ananth edits several pieces into 1 comment, or how exactly that happens) [[ I myself get caught in the 1000-char limit. I do my long responses/comments in a work area, post part of it and then post the full data when I edit the comment. I have not bothered to ask Cricinfo for any special privileges. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on October 11, 2012, 12:38 GMT

    re: Lara's 153*, its as good an innings as i've seen. The pitch wasn't all that good, the attack was fabulous (including two great legspinners on that 5th day wicket), the batting was commanding and aggresive.

    Butcher's match winning effort... the pitch didn't seem to me to be as bad (and there weren't two leg spinners as was with Lara)... i don't rate as highly.

    But i fully agree that wickets falling, state of the series and match play a part in how Lara's knock is rated. Butcher's was a dead match (plus Aus had only declared to make a match of it, after rain ruled out an entire day. They were going for 5-0, otherwise they'd just have batted eng out of match)

    But that doesn't detract from quality of Butcher's play at all, just the appeal of it.

    Speaking of great innings, one that doesn't get mentioned much is Mark Waugh's 116 in 4th innings vs SA, setting up succesful chase of 271.

    SA made 201 in 1st innings AUS 108 in 2nd SA 168 in 3rd

    when Waugh did his 116 miracle thing

  • Waspsting on October 11, 2012, 12:30 GMT

    before, unable to adjust to the conditions, maybe(?)

    for 100-120 scores, 4/8 Lara scores is under 60 SR - peculiar if 27/28 of scores 120+ are 60 SR.

    For Pietersen, its 1/6, but he seems to be pretty regularly in 60+ range for ALL INNINGS. Temperment more of Sehwag maybe - bats the same way and that's what you expect from him

    what do you make of it? --

    Re: Lara and bad wickets, i agree with Lloyd. the innings wise record breakdown support the idea certainly.

    Subjectively, it seemed to me the high back lift left Lara vulnerable to conditions where the pace or bounce were slightly irregular - he couldn't adjust if the ball came on differently from expected.

    Note also that WI pitches were pretty flat in Lara's time - and crossing that with his -

    -high 1st innings record vs second innings -better record at home vs away

    - and the picture that emerges is suggests less than top drawer bad wicket play.

  • Waspsting on October 11, 2012, 12:13 GMT

    @Dinesh - as Ananth says, data of "x bowler to y batsman".

    closest thing to it that i know is

    -go to a players profile on cricino - click "test" (or whatever format you want) -go to player "player analysis menu/filter" - click advanced filter -and you should be able to find the rest out reading the boxes there

    ---

    @Alex

    thanks. i looked up Hayden on this metric, too -

    Hayden 17 13 9

    I'm reading these stats as a double edged sword.

    Obviously, fast scoring for big scores is on display - and that's a good thing.

    Assuming some pitches are bad enough that maintaining 60+ strike rate for big score is impractical... I think Lara and Pietersen's perfect records indicate an inability to knuckle down and get the runs anyway(?)

    IOW, if the pitch is a little on the bad side, someone like Ponting will tone down the aggression for the sake of getting a big score (hence, though usually over 60, he occasionally goes under)

    Lara and Pietersen either score at that pace or get out (cont)

  • Dinesh on October 11, 2012, 10:54 GMT

    Coming to Lara's frailites against fast bowling: WaspSting's comments are enough. Lara fell as awkwardly as one can to a Waqar Younis Yorker. And Lara walked in Many Matches, so can we Sachin/Non Sachin fans Say Lara chickend out to Pull him Down.

    In that way, we will be Slinging Mud on every Player out there. That includes Don Bradman, because people in the End will somehow find a loophole, and Say Bradman wasnt a Perfect Batsman because he dint withstand Pressure as he couldnt Score 4 Runs in his Last Innings.He wasnt perfect as he dint have an Average of 100.

    THe conclusion is Lara/SRT are and will be among the greatest to have Walked down those 22Yards.Period!! Irrespective of a Certain Person saying he saw Sachin tremble or another one sayng Lara had all sorts of Troubles while facing Quicks!! [[ Dinesh I have not published your other comment. Valid point but not needed now. Ananth: ]]

  • Som on October 11, 2012, 9:55 GMT

    Ananth - Rather than a tribute, wouldn't it help to present all round data for GREATS. This would include all the strengths, weaknesses and anecdotes. I think there should be genuine effort from a statistical point of view to show aspects of a player which may not have been the best. Though he may not qualify in the leagues of the GREATS, but let's take for example if we were to do one article on Sourav Ganguly, what all would we want to convey? --Best captain India had, a transformer, coach and motivator kind of a guy --Astute reader of the game and a cricketing situation --One of the best ODI batsman and opener ever --Unfulfilled test batting potential --Controversial pacing of many of his innings which made it look like he was playing for himself not country --A captain who far far exceeded his shelf life --Controversial selections and perceived promoter of sycophants --Over zealous and maybe very insecure --Low fitness

    Brilliant but human. Similarly Lara too was GENIUS and human. [[ Too deep and too wide an analysis. I have already commented on this. How does one present all the facts. It is either go deep pn one player or go wide on one topic. I cannot do both. I am already facing this problem in my next article. There is so much data that I am forced to present the same, comment on part of it and let the readers comment on the rest. We are limited in many ways: width of tables, width of graphs, time taken to prepare the article, time taken by readers to read, etc. Ananth: ]]

  • Sree on October 11, 2012, 9:19 GMT

    Sorry to go on a tangent and take this discussion even more off-topic that it already is. I have a pet peeve that is driving me to distraction and I have to get it off my chest now! What is with the newfound style adopted by many commentators here of referring to players by their initials? I find it confusing and detracts me from the logical argument that they are trying to make. And really, it isnt too much of an effort to add one more letter and call the great man Lara rather than refer to him as BCL. Not to mention that the capitals hurt the eyes.

    Sorry, rant over.

  • Dr. talha on October 11, 2012, 8:17 GMT

    @gerry. Ya i know Haynes batted brilliantly in that series. But if you consider all the tests that the 2 W's played together,u will notice that very few batsmen got 100 against them. Lara was good in thats series, but then he struggled badly in 1997 series against Pak. But my point is that against great bowlers,if not all,most of the great batsmen have struggled,not only Lara. And fast bowlers get even more lethal when bowling in combo. If i remember correctly, thats the reason why for 5 long years no team could score 500 against Pak (1989-1995). In 1995 Zim got 500 and Waqar was absent in that series. Kumble & Ambrose devastated the whole Aus batting line up in 90's. This does not mean that Waugh brothers,taylor etc were below average..It was the brilliance of Curtly & Kumble that caused the damage.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on October 11, 2012, 7:56 GMT

    Alex, Dr T, Gooch made a brilliant 133 in Headingley in 1992 against 2Ws. Robin Smith also scored a century. In fact it was one of the most thrilling 5 test series one could hope to see, and both batsmen scored heavily against excellent bowling in difficult conditions in all the tests. But overall the 2Ws won the battle.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on October 11, 2012, 7:28 GMT

    Victoria, Sachin fans did not even acknowledge that you are saying that you have seen it yourself. They assumed that you have visualized from Shoaib Akhtar's writings. They are much more determined than Sachin himself...(there we go again). [[ Hey all you guys, please let go. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on October 11, 2012, 3:34 GMT

    Gerry & Dr. T: These are the batsmen with one or more test 100's vs W&W: Hooper-Haynes-Taylor (3 each), Aravinda-DJ (2 each), 26 other batsmen with one hundred each ... Lara & RTP fail to make this cut.

    Incidentally, Lara has no 100 vs Shoaib Akhtar whereas 29 batsmen have a test 100 vs Shoaib. He has not scored a test 100 vs Donald or Bond either. He does have 3 100's vs Lee albeit on easy pitches. This is one aspect on which SRT definitely has an edge over BCL.

  • shrikanthk on October 11, 2012, 3:18 GMT

    Lindwall & Miller, Trueman & Statham, Tyson/Gilchrist, Hall & Griffith were all nearing or at express pace at reasonable stretches of their career. India had Gavaskar and Amarnath, of course

    I was referring to 3-pronged attacks with all 3 exceeding 85 comfortably. Sustained pace throughout the day. This became fashionable only in the late 70s.

    Lindwall and Miller, Trueman/Statham/Tyson were all very fast. But often varied their pace and seldom bowled in a specific pace corridor (say 85-90) throughout the day. Also, they hunted in pairs and not in threes. Tyson, Statham and Trueman hardly played together (Ananth can confirm). [[ The problem was the combination of Trueman and Tyson. Statham played with both often. But these two played only 4 Tests together towards teh end of Tyson's career and Statham played with them in ONE test only. I could get everything quickly since I have the advanced Bowler pairs analysis available now. Ananth: ]]

  • Vikram on October 11, 2012, 3:02 GMT

    @Ananth: i am an SRT fan. However, for me to say that SRT was a great batsman, I would much rather build up BCL and then find that small little chink where SRT was better than BCL through some statistical jugglery if needed, and thus prove that SRT is great. If i rundown BCL,then by default SRT can't be great, because they largely played the same bowlers. So, to me, combining this article and the last, I say BCL is awesome, but in the best 10 years SRT was slightly better and hence SRT was maybe .01% better. Jokes apart, BCL had great shot arsenal, SRT had determination, BCL had stamina, SRT had focus, it's just impossible to separate the two, and most importantly, they were good eough not to need a frame of refernece. Some of the other batsmen need to be compared to be called very good, not these two. Stats tell you how the greats were greats not why. No stat analysis can prove or disprove that BCL was great. This analysis is an ode not an explanation. Or so I think. [[ You have made my day with an excellent comment. I have probably said this 364 times and now for the 365th time (and in the days to come the 401st time) that one does not have to pull down one great to appreciate another great. Learn to appreciate both. Life will be great. I hate people who speak ill of Nadal to appreciate Federer (fewer) or vice versa (lot more). If I cannot appreciate the quality Nadal, Djokovic and Murray (the later two now) bring to court, how can I appreciate Federer. However much I love Federer, I would be a fool not to appreciate Murray's in-the-zone play when he won the Olympic Gold. I myself endorse Federer's view that he won the silver rather than lost gold. Same with all top cricketers. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on October 11, 2012, 2:58 GMT

    @dale:

    1. Lara's "ordinary" avg in won matches might simply be because those pitches and/or bowlers were less conducive to run making --- look at Sarwan's numbers in the won matches featuring Lara. These are the numbers for WI's won matches during Lara's era (avg, # 100, # 50, # matches):

    Lara: (61, 8, 16, 32) ... innings/century ratio = 6.5 Adams: (70, 4, 8, 21) Chander: (55, 6, 10, 24) Haynes: (57, 5, 3, 15) Richardson: (48, 2, 7, 18) Hooper: (39, 3, 6, 25) Sarwan: (55, 3, 5, 11) ... innings/century ratio = 6.0 Campbell: (43, 2, 6, 16).

    Clearly, Lara was the best WI batsman in these matches ... Adams' bloated avg is due to NO's.

    2. I never doubted Lara's ability vs out-and-out fast bowlers. IMO, while he was a good batsman on that front, he was a phenomenon vs medium pace & spinners everywhere. So, his reflexes might not have been very fast but his ability to read a ball must have been extraordinary --- his quick hands, shot arsenal, and legendary placement did the rest.

  • dale on October 10, 2012, 16:45 GMT

    1.My numbers specifically referred to the performance in matches won - Sarwan 14 matches, 23 innings,5 centuries = a century scored every 4.60 innings. Is this incorrect ? 2.The statement was not about Lara scoring a hundred against anyone - It simply states he did not have a career defining "ONSLAUGHT" against any hostile fast bowler the way Fredericks, Richards,Sobers et al are known to have done. 3.Why assume where I got my information ? The point is Waquar Younis has on more than one occasion indicated that Lara is the best batsman he has ever bowled to. Have you considered that Lara was very consistent across the "performance" board and that explains his "ordinary" numbers in matches won ? Have you considered the irony that Lara is rated by one of the greatest bowlers of his era ,Waquar Younis, as the best batsman he has ever faced when some of us are doubting his ability to play pace bowling? [[ Anyhow if we accept one top player's words, we should also accept another top player's words. The manner of speaking does not come in at all. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on October 10, 2012, 16:33 GMT

    But Dr Talha, Haynes BLASTED 2 centuries in 1992-93...Lara played beautifully too in that series...

  • Gerry on October 10, 2012, 16:14 GMT

    "This was the trend throughout cricket history until the late 70s."

    Ananth, not sure about that. Lindwall & Miller, Trueman & Statham, Tyson/Gilchrist, Hall & Griffith were all nearing or at express pace at reasonable stretches of their career. India had Gavaskar and Amarnath, of course. [[ Gerry Not my comment but Shrikanth's. No problems, though. You could add Larwood, Cotter (am I correct). Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on October 10, 2012, 15:56 GMT

    @Wasp: The breakdowns for # 120+ scores, with SR>60, with SR>64:

    BCL: (28, 27, 19). RTP: (28, 19, 14). SRT: (35, 17, 13). Kallis: (27, 11, 6). RD: (23, 4, 3). Waugh: (19, 6, 2). KP: (15, 15, 11). Inzy: (12, 5, 4).

    So, KP certainly comes close to Lara on this metric!! He too has done it all over the world. Sobers might have been an even better batsman than Lara, esp. on bad wickets (at least Lloyd said so), but, unfortunately, Cricinfo does not have SR info for many of his 100's ... I do suspect that Lara might be just ahead of him on SR.

  • Victoria on October 10, 2012, 15:05 GMT

    Ananth, It's ridiculous that all your excellent work now is being inevitably transformed into a Lara vs Tendulkar; or an X vs Y brawl! I only cited the Tendulkar vs Shoaib Akhtar incident at Faizabad because it's true - the tapes are available. I would never derrogate the Great Sachin Tendulkar - God forbid! I only tried to show his crazy fans that while they thrash Lara unfairly, trying to prove a point in favour of Sachin, that there is evidence that he too was not always comfortable against real fast bowling; as seen in England and Australia on his last tours of those countries. Lara doesn't have 100 against Waqar and Wasim while bowling in tandem; but the reason why they rate him so highly was due to the blistering attack that he put on them in a WC match in their first ever encounter on the Australian fast bouncy pitches. No one had done that to them before. His innings of 88 retired hurt ended by a Wazim yorker on his toe; but after WI had virtually WON the match by 10 wickets. [[ I have no idea when we will come to appreciate a great player by himself and not by comparing him constantly with another equally great player. Ananth: ]]

  • Dinesh on October 10, 2012, 13:54 GMT

    aah..feels good comment on this blog. Once i had read the article fully, just commented once,but felt i could not give any meaningful comment, so just refrained from commenting, rather than making some passing comments and not getting them published for Crossing the "Anantha Rekha".

    Ananth/Alex/WaspS: Do you know how to put in a querry on finding the number of runs an X batsman scored of Y bowler. I dont need historical Data, but probably from 1995.Just wanted to check how some Batsmen fared against some bowlers.So that i can have this data Handy and comment whenever People pass on a Comment saying BCL/Srt/RTP/RSD/etc struggled against a certain type of bowlers. [[ Dinesh I have replied to tis so many times that the words just come through. I do not have access to ball-by-ball data. I am told that Charlie Davis has some ball-by-ball data. I am not sure whether it is accessible in an easy-to-use manner. Let the others clarify this for you. Also please read my recent response to WS, repeated below. WS I have not yet got into this. However when I was doing the TV analysis a few years back I did a lot of study on the ball-by-ball data available. It is wrong to assume that the ball-by-ball data is be the panacea to all evils and suddenly the world will open up. I had real problems interpreting the data for the semi-amateur co-presenters and players. Let us say the ball-by-ball data tells this. Batsman to Bowler 1: 100 balls 30 runs. Batsman to Bowler 2: 50 balls 30 runs. Who has bowled better to this batsman. All depends on who is bowler 1 and who is bowler 2 and the circumstances. In certain cases facing 100 balls (and surviving) is more important than facing 50 balls and scoring. In other situations it would have been more important to score well. If Bowler 1 is Kumble and Bowler 2 is Kuruvilla there is a world of difference to the other way around. We really cannot conclude that a batsman is weak or strong on such analysis. It was only when I introduced a new concept of recording "wicket-taking balls" that we began to see the light of the day. Which bowler bowled more wicket-taking balls to a top batsmen. How many wicket-taking balls were faced by a batsman and so on. Who troubled a batsmen more? and so on. Ananth: ]] I checked the link which Srini gave.But it shows how a players scored in that match,but not how he scored against those bowlers, as in those matches,we know SRT struggled more against Cronje than against Donald and same is the case.Lara picked up BCL wickets more but we dont know after how many runs Lara smashed him for?

  • Waspsting on October 10, 2012, 11:50 GMT

    @Alex - I would think Sobers might be up there with Lara for aggresion(?)

    haven't seen stats, or Sobers bat - but he seems to have been the same type of controlled attack and destroy type player(?)

    re: Chappell - no he didn't convert 100s into big 100s like BL, but note he was far better at converting 50s into 100s.

    Sehwag I agree is on a different plane (not from Gilchrist though) - and also agree his success is limited to specific (sub-continent) conditions disproportionately relative to the others we're discussing.

    Viv I think batted like Sehwag in SHORT bursts, but for the most part, was aggresive like Lara or Ponting.

    Could you post up the stats for Ponting? I'd anticipate he'd be about the same level of SR as Lara. [[ Ponting's overall s/r is, as everyone knows, 58.7, about 3% below Lara's 60.5. These are the top 2 in the 10000+ run brigade. Of course if we lower to 8000, Sehwag and Richards come in. I have not done the 100s s/r yeat. Too busy with the next ultra-long article. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on October 10, 2012, 11:37 GMT

    - forced back by bouncer barrage by Donald, and out hit wicket

    - felled by Shoaib, cluelessly spotting the ball late and taking his eyes of it

    My most vivid memory of Lara's discomfort against the fast men wasn't any one ball but an ODI innings.

    On the 98 tour of SA, after Cullinan was given out (quite rightly, IMO) handled the ball, SA seemed to take the matter as bad sportsmanship and proceeded to continuously bounce all the WI batsman.

    You had guys like Pollock and even Kallis - not express pacers - bouncing the players - and Lara looked as helpless as anyone.

    I have seen nothing from SRT that matches the apparent discomfort/inadequacy against fast bowling as these of Lara.

    I find the perception of SRT better against fast bowling... to be rational (whether any given person is making that assessment for the wrong or right reasons is another story, of course)

    ---

    "It shows a lack of any perspective or common sense by Sobers"

    yep, FAR too human to be a good statistician :) [[ I understand your dilemma. You are a strict neutral analyst. When you do analysis which favours one player over the other, motives are ascribed instantly. Same problem as what I have, probably you have on a smaller scale. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on October 10, 2012, 11:26 GMT

    "Not in a hurry, Dr.T. I would probably not been able to handle the flak."

    :) Your too human to be a ... what was it, a "real statistician"/have a degree in statistics

    ---

    Bit more on fast bowling and BCL/SRT.

    The trouble with SRT is many of his supporters are so overtly biased towards him to the point of denigrating everyone else... that any pro-SRT comment arouses the suspicion in others that "maybe he's one of those 'Sachin is God'" types.

    (another point, equally valid but less prevalent, is this type of bias has also elicited a reactionary type of fan who has an overtly anti-SRT bias, and dismisses him at every turn)

    I understand and appreciate this.

    That said, i can see why the perception that SRT played fast bowling better is there (speaking as an objective witness). Off the top of my head, i recall all kinds of uncomfortable Lara moments -

    -beaten for pace and hit on the foot, forced to retire hurt against Wasim

    -swung off his feet and bowled by Waqar

    (cont)

  • Dr. talha on October 10, 2012, 6:32 GMT

    Have not send any comment since almost a week. Waited very patiently, just to see whether the old SRT & Lara comparison reaches any conclusion. I would agree with the statement that nobody is comfortable against world class bowling (whether fast or spin). Perhaps thats the reason why they are world class. If lara was not good against wasim & waqar, then SRT never played the two W's in tests for 10 long year, when both were at their most devastating best. He played them in 1989(debut series of SRT waqar)and then 1999. If lara struggled against warne, then didnt SRT had issues against saqlain in 1999?? It was not only Lara who didnt get a 100 against the W's, but even Ponting,Chanderpaul,Kallis,Dravid,VVS etc..all these greats couldnt score any, when both the W's were playing. Even S waugh got only one in 9 tests, and that too after 3 to 4 dropped catches(gabba'95).Shows how lethal W's were,when bowling in combo. A similar blog by Ananth on SRT & others may answer all these questions. [[ Not in a hurry, Dr.T. I would probably not been able to handle the flak. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on October 10, 2012, 4:52 GMT

    Then the team will be Bradman, Sutcliffe, Barrington, Weekes, Hammond and Sobers. Gilchrist. Barnes, Wardle, Davidson, Marshall

    Actually it is a brilliant side. Just goes to show figures don't lie! (referring to numerical figures not hourglass ones!) The only "highly debatable" selection is Wardle who didn't play in enough tests for anyone to be sure. [[ Purely number-based selection with minimal cut-offs. This is with 100 wkts. Probably 150 might be better and match the 4000 runs cut-off. Then Laker for Wardle. Not a bad change. The more I see it the more I am impressed with the balance of this selection. Left handed bat. Right hand fast medium, Off spin, Left arm seamer, great fast bowler. What is wrong with this eleven with the following team.. Bradman, Sutcliffe, Barrington, Weekes, Hammond and Sobers. Gilchrist. Barnes, Davidson, Marshall, Laker Ananth: ]] Btw, for all those people who crib about Lara's record against "genuine pace", what's overlooked is that "sustained genuine pace" is a relatively recent phenomenon in cricket history. There were no 3 pronged attacks (with all bowlers 85+) in cricket history until Lloyd's West indians. 30 The fastest attack Bradman faced was probably the 32-33 attack (where only Larwood and Allen probably breached 85 consistently). Voce was about Zaheer's pace, with Bowes around PK's pace. This was the trend throughout cricket history until the late 70s.

  • Alex on October 10, 2012, 3:55 GMT

    @dale:

    1. Your numbers are not correct. E.g., Sarwan has only 15 100's in 87 tests & 154 innings ... nowhere does this add up to your claim of his freq of hundred/innings being 4.6 only.

    2. As for Lara not dominating hostile and quick bowlers, note that in mid-90's, he had at least 2 defining 100's vs Donald & Pollock when Donald was at his fastest. Back then, he killed W&W in several ODI's, most memorably during a 128 and a 153. Also, the 226 was vs Lee (& McGrath).

    3. I assume you are quoting Waqar from his TV interview available on YouTube. He touched his nose so many times during that interview that it is doubtful whether even he himself believes most of the things he said. [[ Last sentence is totally unnecessary. I have left the sentence as it is so that the somewhat-silly first half of the sentence will nullify your own conclusion. Ananth: ]]

  • dale on October 10, 2012, 0:16 GMT

    Lara's performance in matches won - Compared to the contemporary batsmen,the following all have higher averages and RPI - Inzamam 78.16/61.71,Sangakkara 75.47/67.70,G.Smith 63.87/57.48, Jayawardene 62.58/56.32,Younis Khan 68.54/56.45,Saeed Anwar 66.29/62.61. Not surprisingly ,Tendulkar,S.Waugh,Kallis and Dravid all have superior averages but they each have a lower RPI than Lara. Re frequency of centuries - most of the promiment batsmen all scored at a greater rate - the range is from Sangakkara 4.0 to Dravid at 6.13 with players such as Tendulkar 5.15,Ponting 5.93,Waugh 4.80,Hayden 5.35,Kallis 5.43, Inzamam 4.47,Smith 4.71, Jayawardene 5.33 are some of the players ahead of Lara.

  • dale on October 9, 2012, 23:34 GMT

    Lara's stats in matches won are quite good but not as dominating as one would expect. Compared to WI batsmen who scored at least 1000 runs and played in a minimum of 10 matches, Lara's average is lower than one contemporary in Adams' 69.72. Walcott 79.50,Sobers 77.42,Worrell 74.15 and Weekes 66.80 are also ahead. If we look at RPI then Sobers 67.33,Walcott 61.83,Weekes 61,Kanhai 57.24 and Worrell 57.04 are also ahead of Lara's 56.33. Finally, in frequency of centuries per inning Sarwan as a contemporary is at 4.60 then overall we have Sobers 3.83,Weekes 4.60,Walcott 6.0,Hunte 6.17,Fredericks 6.25 and Lloyd 6.30 are all ahead of Lara. Re Lara against pace - he never had a defining onslaught against a hostile and quick bowler al a Walcott vs Lindwall and Miller, Sobers vs Lillee, Fredericks vs Lillee and Thomson ,Richards against any Australian quick or even Richardson against the Australians. However Waquar Younis rates him as the best he has ever bowled against.

  • Alex on October 9, 2012, 22:19 GMT

    @Ananth: Interestingly, Lara's odd yrs were unfailingly great ('93, '95, '97, etc.) but the even yrs were not so, the exception being '94; '04 was saved by 400* and, otherwise, had avg=38. So, by this trend, '07 could have been a bright year for him ... he was in good form in ODI's that year and it is a shame that he was almost forced to retire.

  • Alex on October 9, 2012, 22:02 GMT

    @Ananth:

    1. You might be able to a nice article on # & percentage of 100's in which a batsman had SR>60. It can be complemented by computing the percentage for SR>55 (to cushion SR>60) and SR>70. Lara would finish within top 3 on this. Something similar can be done for ODIs.

    2. I am a Lara fan to the end but get uneasy when people summarily call his 153* the greatest ever chasing innings. Is it because of the visual mastery? But that aspect is to be ignored in stats. So, is it because of the series situation & drama of wkts falling? If so, maybe. But it cannot be due to quality of bowling or stiffness of the target because then, I daresay, Butcher's 173* in 2001 vs equally potent Oz attack, an even better Oz team, and facing a more imposing target is better qualified (http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/63939.html) ... it was simply the hour of Butcher's life and better than Greenidge's 214*, given the quality of the Oz attack.

  • Alex on October 9, 2012, 17:34 GMT

    @Ananth: Sure, Sehwag & Viv were more destructive than Lara (but not Sobers & Chappell). However, note this:

    1. 16 of Sehwag's 17 120+ knocks had SR>70 but only 3 were outside the subcontinent (2 in Oz and 1 in WI) whereas Lara did it all over the world.

    2. 13 of Viv's 16 120+ knocks have SR>64. Like Lara, he too did it all over the world and used essentially classical shots only.

    3. 9 of Greg Chappell's 14 120+ knocks have SR>64. Like Lara, he too did it wherever he played and used classical shots only.

    So, Viv & GS are legitimate competitors as attacking batsmen. However, Lara's conversion of a 100 into a big (120+) score took place at a far greater frequency than Viv's/Chappell's did.

  • Alex on October 9, 2012, 16:56 GMT

    @Ananth: One aspect left out in your tribute is Lara's ability to amass massive scores at an incredible SR. To quantify it, let's note:

    1. 27 of Lara's 28 scores of 120+ have SR>58. 2. 19 of these came at SR>64. [[ The top-5 innings does this, albeit indirectly. Anyhow with Sehwag's scoring rates around no one even comes closer. Ananth: ]] All of these, except 2 (vs Zim & BD), were vs top attacks. This level of attacking mastery/genius might well be unprecedented (bar the Don).

    IMO, Lara was the most gifted and fundamentally sound attacking batsman, this side of the Don. His shot arsenal was wide but essentially classical --- he didn't need to invent shots because his combination of reflexes, hand-eye coordination, and shot placement was probably superior to everyone else's in the history of cricket. The emphasis on classicism, together with emphasis on test cricket batting, probably explains why he didn't do that well in ODI's after 1998.

  • Alex on October 9, 2012, 16:31 GMT

    @Ananth: During Lara's career, the next 5 team-mates had these stats, given as (avg, #100, #50, # tests):

    Chander: (45, 14, 40, 101). Adams: (41, 6, 14, 54). Hooper: (40, 12, 24, 83). Sarwan: (39, 9, 26, 65). Gayle: (39, 7, 26, 64).

    Since his retirement, the top 5 WI batsmen stats:

    Chander: (66, 11, 21, 46). Gayle: (51, 7, 8, 29). Sarwan: (44, 6, 5, 22). Bravo: (44, 3, 7, 19). Samuels: (43, 3, 10, 19).

    The jump in the avg of WI batsmen (esp. Chander, Gayle, Sarwan) since Lara's retirement suggests that either WI have played in easier conditions or have benefited from Lara's absence or both.

    So, my only gripe vs Lara (of not being a great team player) might be valid. Back in '99, Sobers himself identified that as the positive in SRT which Lara lacked --- and we all know Sobers' book has an entire chapter on Lara but not a single word on SRT! [[ It shows a lack of any perspective or common sense by Sobers who anyhow has never been a great student of the game. Possibly he was unhappy at being deprived of the record. What else can I say. Ananth: ]] It is easy to appreciate Lara's genius, esp. in tests, but I certainly put SRT, & maybe RTP, ahead of him across tests & ODI. [[ Maybe there is another interpretation. An extent of indifferent performances by the other players, partly deliberately. I remember the WC 2007. It is my firm belief that Lara was let down by his players. Ananth: ]]

  • Nitin Gautam on October 9, 2012, 12:56 GMT

    Among all your lined up articles, world XV would certainly be most awaited since it will be backed up with solid no. & not just emotional selections & may break the record of maximum comments :). impatiently waiting for that [[ Nitin My selection will ALWAYS be a mix of numbers and personal selections. I, for that matter anyone else, would be a fool to select on numbers only. Then the team will be Bradman, Sutcliffe, Barrington, Weekes, Hammond and Sobers. Gilchrist. Barnes, Wardle, Davidson, Marshall (ignoring pre-19000 bowlers). Not a bad team. Could defeat any other team. But not my selection: in a million years. Ananth: ]] However the novelty of Byes/No Balls analysis is really unique. It must be an eye opener specially for wayward yet impact bowlers like Akhtar, sami, Agarkar, (mostly subcontinent bowlers) I remember while reading an article in Hindi magazine (cricket Samrat-my only source of cricket info during long hostel days) with pic of akhtar,sami shabbir ahmad, razzak during India's pak tour of 2003-04 how they squandered Pak chances by bowling so many no & wide balls. not to mention the disappointment of taking wickets on no balls & batman meking merry after that. Will your no-ball & its effect analysis cover the spot-fixing fiasco..probably the darkest effect few no balls ever caused to cricket

  • Waspsting on October 9, 2012, 12:18 GMT

    relative to how most players are scoring against fast bowling?

    --- the contrast principle that shapes perceptions in a) are evident in all kinds of things.

    a very strong leg side player might be a bloody good off side player too - but because the leg side play takes the eye, we don't notice how good an off side player he is (Azhar is an example)

    Viv Richards looked so good against pace that no one really mentions how he was against spin. he was quite good, its just attention has been diverted from it.

    Lara's perceived problems with fast bowling might be based on how commanding he looked against spin.

    who knows? [[ WS I have not yet got into this. However when I was doing the TV analysis a few years back I did a lot of study on the ball-by-ball data available. It is wrong to assume that the ball-by-ball data is be the panacea to all evils and suddenly the world will open up. I had real problems interpreting the data for the semi-amateur co-presenters and players. The ball-by-ball data tells this. Batsman to Bowler 1: 100 balls 30 runs. Batsman to Bowler 2: 50 balls 30 runs. Who has bowled better to this batsman. All depends on who is bowler 1 and who is bowler 2 and the circumstances. In certain cases facing 100 balls (and surviving) is more important than facing 50 balls and scoring. In other situations it would have been more important to score well. If Bowler 1 is Kumble and Bowler 2 is Kuruvilla there is a world of difference to the other way around. We really cannot conclude that a batsman is weak or strong on such analysis. It was only when I introduced a new concept of recording "wicket-taking balls" that we began to see the light of the day. Which bowler bowled more wicket-taking balls to a top batsmen. How many wicket-taking balls were faced by a bastman and so on. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on October 9, 2012, 12:10 GMT

    re: fast bowling -

    this is an old, misunderstood line of reasoning

    "x is uncomfortable against fast bowling?"

    "who isn't?"

    -----

    I wonder if the perception of "x being uncomfortable against fast bowling" is based on

    a) how comfortable x is against other types of bowling? b) how comfortable all players are against fast bowling?

    If more a) than b), that's not much of a problem. If Lara and Tendulkar are averaging 50 against ALL BOWLING, it follows logically that they would be averaging higher than that against weak bowling and lower against good bowling.

    (fast bowling, is usually good bowling, and certainly so when we're talking about Donald, Wasim and Waqar)]

    they look so good against medium pace and spin, that discomfort becomes much more visible against fast bowling. As opposed to normal batsman, who probably don't look nearly as comfortable against non-fast bowling.

    The important part of the matter SHOULD be b)

    are these guys failing against fast bowling (continued)

  • Waspsting on October 9, 2012, 11:58 GMT

    @Ananth - your suggestion for revisions to "form dip" sounds good. Perhaps another figure, "purple bump" of consecutive 50 type thing?

    I think a "bump" could be sets of 4 innings, with at least 3 50s in them - what do you think? (i imagine Kallis of the moderns would top this group) [[ With your and Milind's inputs, we already have the basis for a very interesting and lively article. Ananth: ]]

    in future, when i'm offering feedback, would you rather i just said what i think myself (and you can calibrate that to the kind of reader I am, and the overall reader base your trying to reach)?

    Or would you prefer i gave an opinion on what I think readers in general know (something i'm not qualified to know, and might very likely be confusing my own knowledge with readers overall with)?

    Let me know - glad to be of help, and trying be as helpful as i can [[ I have enough faith in your judgement to accept whatever you come up with. You have to use your judgement and it also depends on the article. Let us agree that the reader-base ranges quit a bit: from one who quit because I do not have a Statistics degree to those who are very happy to see the collection of many tables, probably obtainable through Cricinfo, but in one place. And also depends on who you interact with. Ananth: ]]

  • Nitin Gautam on October 9, 2012, 7:26 GMT

    "These two made the 1990-2010 period a great and wonderful batting era" Coudln't agree more. Being sportsman of highest order in cricket, these 2 fine gentlemen made batting look so pleasing to people like me who started watching cricket after 92 WC. & downgrading anyone on cost of others is simply appalling. Having fav is one thing & proving one superior to other with anecdotes,false claims(Shoib), convenient filters, is totally uncalled for.I absolutely adore batsmanship of SRT but would be the 1st to agree Lara at its best was a notch higher. Re. blocked comments I remember your intimation on 1 but there were 2 more which didnt publish however I completely trust your judgement on sanctity of comment & probably i wud hv wrote something that didnt complied with your rules & that is how it shud be for everyone. I Was merely asking.. :) [[ One was a follow-up to the one not published. Ananth: ]] can you give us a headstart on what your next article is based on? [[ My next one is the one on 10 selected Bowling pairs. Then not necessarily in sequence. Period analysis follow-up with varying years for batsmen and bowlers. Byes/Bo Nalls analysis. Important one to see the impact on bowling figures. World XV selection. Ananth: ]]

  • Nitin Gautam on October 9, 2012, 4:40 GMT

    Funny how Shoib's claim (which was only to sensationalize the book) is taken so seriously just to prove Sachin was scared of fast bowling. Let alone premier bowlers from other countries he was criticised by Akram & Waqar also. As on Pak team supporting his claim, it was only, equally doubtful, afridi who saw the frightening shaking legs.huh. [[ This was Victoria's retort to those who were trying to prove that Lara was weak against pace. Again I do not know why SRT should be brought in. We should ignore these. Both SRT and Lara are beyond any of these innuendos. I will finally say this. These two made the 1990-2010 period a great and wonderful batting era. Only when SRt retires will we know what we will be missing. Kohli, a very good batsman, but cannot hold a candle to SRT/Lara on the conduct on the field. Ananth: ]] Agreed Lara must hv played domestic cricket against greats of the super fast bowling & earned his name the prince but on test level his edginess & uncomfort against few bowlers made many ppl believe he is not gud against them. After all its his poetry by bat that makes him stand out & if that is lost,perspective changes.otherwise as Srini showed both have almost same records Next, as on Anti Lara brigade,just so to ask, to prove he was gud against fast bowlers, SRT was to put down using Shoib's claim. This is what rabid SRT fans do & exactly what rabid Lara fans also do. Anantha 3 of my comments were blocked.Was I out of line? [[ Only one, Nitin and that too with an intimation from me. In fact I have blocked a few other comments without even mentioning those. You are within the line 99% of the time. I think that should comfort you. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on October 9, 2012, 2:58 GMT

    Waspsting - we are just repeating ourselves. Differing perspectives, different conclusions. Anyhow I admire Lara too much to continue explaining my negative point of view on that matter.

    Club bowlers in the West Indies are frequently considered as fast as the international bowlers. Imran Khan's book "Imran" vividly describes this (quoting from memory on 1976-77 WI tour) " Sir Gary took one look at me and said that if I was as fast as Lillee, Lillee must have been bowling at half pace. In the West Indies, even club bowlers were faster than the fastest bowlers of Pakistan."

    Wisden describes Patrick Patterson, after his very first test, as being the fastest bowler in the world in the opinion of the battered 1986 Englishmen, and not Marshall. [[ In a way it is similar to someone proving a perceived weakness of one of the four musketeers of Indian batting against spin by doing an analysis. It is obvious that spinners would have taken their wickets but that is all. Let us leave it at this. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on October 9, 2012, 2:42 GMT

    @milpand & @Ananth: One solution is to put a ceiling on the runs scored in an innings to, say, 80 ... e.g., then SRT's sequence will read 80, 60*, 80 (and not 241*, 60*, 194*) between two poor runs. [[ A very tough ceiling will be the career RpI. But ignoring one-off high scores may be better. The program must be able to distinguish a fluke innings which is one high score in 10 short innings or so. Ananth: ]]

  • milpand on October 8, 2012, 21:13 GMT

    This is a joke/story/recap (or whatever) I heard when I was visiting West Indies. I was chatting with cricket aficionados when this was narrated. It was told in first person in colourful language with plenty of -Yo Man- thrown in between. I am unable to reconstruct it but it went something like:

    "I was in a bar with Lara when news about Hayden scoring 380 reached us. Lara is such a gentleman that he called Matthew straight away to congratulate him. He was busy celebrating and rudely asked Lara to call back later. I told Lara that he must break the record soon to teach Hayden how to be courteous while taking a call soon after setting up a new world record when that person calls whose record was broken."

    The emphasis is on "I told Lara". [[ I think there is probably lot of brown liquid involved here. You were probably the only one drinking the softer liquids. Your Trinidadian friend might have imbibed a few rums when he went on his "raconteur" mode. Hayden himself might have had a few and might have thought "Lara Dutta" who he might have met in Mumbai a few months back. Anyhow great story. Ananth: ]]

  • milpand on October 8, 2012, 21:11 GMT

    Form Dip:

    1. It can't be just 4 scores. 4 is too short say in a 3 test series especially if it involves a very good performance just before or after this sequence. 2. It need not be about single digit scores. A top order batsman must get past, say 37, if I do not want to use a round figure, every 5 innings or past 87 every 10 for him to be considered 'in-form'. 3. It can't be about aggregate runs scored within a block of say 12 innings. Sachin's 241*, 60*, 194* comes to mind which appeared between these two sequences a) 8,7,55,1,0,1,37,0,44 and b) 2,8,1,8,2,5,55,3,20. 4. It can't be based on averages. It should be based on RpI. 5. It can't be based on numbers from a single series. It should be long enough to cover multiple series spanning several months. Based on above a batsman is out of form if over a period of 6 months or more, playing against different opponents, he struggles to reach 30% of his career RpI over 10 innings. [[ Milind This is what I was looking for. I agree my attempt was just the starting point. What you have suggested is the bsis for an article to study the form-dips in player careers. We have no idea what we would find. Let us wait for some respones to your comment. In almost all of my analysis I prefer RpI than average. I personally think that a not out has relevance only when it goes with a small score. How can 400 be added to the aggregate column but not to the innings column. Why would you not look at, say, 6 Tests. If a player goes through a 5-Test series and one more Test with no worthwhile scores or 2 3-Test series should not that be considered a real dip. I am not comfortable with time. Even today, India played in Feb, Aug and then in Nov. There have been times when they have gone for nearly a year without playing. Ananth: ]]

  • Ajinkya on October 8, 2012, 17:52 GMT

    I feel that the discussion about Lara's ability, or lack thereof, to play pace is taking the thread off-topic. I have only a couple of points to make: 1)Gavaskar rightly said no batsman is truly comfortable against real pace. No one has ever consistently dominated quality pace over their entire career. This does not mean, however, that some batsmen aren't better than others at playing it. 2)The comments about Tendulkar 'running away' from Akhtar are in poor taste. No professional cricketer would do that, let alone a proud one like Tendulkar. Besides, Tendulkar is a known walker who had walked without waiting for the umpire's decision before that occasion in Faisalabad-the famous 143 in Sharjah is the first instance that comes to mind. [[ Victoria is only repeating what he has read in Akhtar's book. I have published it as it is. Obviously I do not accept Akhtar's statements. Again it is what is felt by the reader. For Victoria it may very well be the comment that Lara played ugly or hat he was weak against top pace attacks. Do not take these too seriously. If there is a direct unnecessary comment against a player I stop it. Ananth: ]]

  • Victoria on October 8, 2012, 15:39 GMT

    Ananth, I notice that you have been forced to concede to the anti-Lara fan club that Lara was not comfortable against real pace bowling; and you even suggested that this was so because "he was not used to playing against his own fast bowlers from the WI" (paraphrased). On the subject regarding comfortable batsmen against real fast bowling, I would like to share with your readers, this quote from the Great Sunil Gavascar, one of the best players of fast bowling the world has ever seen. The matter of playing against fast bowling came up when Virat Kholi was playing so poorly against the WI fast bowlers last year in the Caribbean. In answering to a question put to Mr Gavascar as to the reason for Mr Kholi's discomfort against fast bowling, the Great Sunil Gavascar answered his interviewer with this question: "But who is comfortable against real fast bowling"? This I think is the best answer for anyone who wants to debate the matter. But for those who do not know, let me tell them what actually happened to their favourite player Sachin Tendulkar whom THEY THINK was so good at playing against fast bowling. I saw Mr Tendulkar surrender his wicket without being sent by the Umpire, on a half hearted appeal for a catch behind by Shoaib Akhtar, in a crucial test match at Fiazabad. Pundits said that it was the first time in his very long career that Mr Tendulkar had walked on an appeal for a catck without being sent by the umpire. But he had to do it because Mr Akhtar was really steaming in, in that spell! I guess it was after that event that Shoaib Akhtar wrote in his booK that Tendulkar was afraid of him; and the rest of the Pakistani team backed up Shoaib by saying that "Tendulkar shook at his knees" anytime that he was facing up to Shoaib. And Ananth, it is not true that Lara didnot play against his fast bowlers from the Caribbean. In fact, if he did not play against them, he could not have made the WI team. And let me inform your readers that to make the West Indies team those days, you had to be more than good at playing real fast bowling, because that was all the bowling that we knew about those days; and at that time, the quality of the cricket in a territorial match in our local competitions ws as high, if not higher than many of the test matches that were played between full national teams from most of the other cricketing jurisdictions, including India. Hence, to make the WI team, Lara had to compete against bowlers of the likes of Marshall, Patterson, Ambrose, Holding, Walsh, Reon King and many others who were as fst or even faster than these names that the world know about; but who were unfortunate not to make it into the team. Lara had to play against them in all types of attck combinations: in pairs, three pronged, four pronged, etc, especially at trials to select the final team - and remember everybody had to try to impress to secure that last slot for selection. But when all is said and done, Lara was the batsman who used to score the highest aggregate of runs every year and top the batting averages. In fact, some of the most epic encounters one would have ever seen in cricket between a batsman and a bowler, were some of the encounters between Lara and his bowling team mates in our local competition. Something like what he did to the Australian fast bowlers on his first tour to Australia. What I am saying then, is that Lara had his few uncomfortable moments "just like EVERY OTHER BATSMAN" against real fast bowling; but mainly when he came to the crese to bat at No.4, with the WI score being less than 10 for 2, on nearly every occasion; and the fast bowlers tails were up and their adrenalin pumping as a result of success. But it was the said Lara who told Ian Chappell that if those fast bowlers did not get his wicket in the first 30 minutes of such situation when he was vulnerable; it was trouble for everybody for the rest of the match - AND THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT HE USED TO DO. THAT IS WHY HE HAD NO PEERS WHEN HE PLAYED. Ananth, I know this piece is long and I would be grateful if you could edit to meet your standards. [[ I am not going to edit since there is nothing derogatory to anyone in your words. My comment was more in passing that Lara did not face his own set of fast bowlers. I did not say that to support any claim that he was not good against pace bowling. In fact I do not think so. But your point on the non-Test scene is good. In the Trials and Inter-Island matches you cannot escape the real fast bowlers. Some of them might even go all out just to prove a point on non-selection. And your point on "who is comfortable against pace bowling", attributed to Gavaskar, is correct. Recently we have seen every top player, exithout exception, struggle against top quality pace bowling. Which batsman has always succeeded against pace bowling. By always I mean most of the times. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on October 8, 2012, 15:25 GMT

    @Ananth:

    1. Pl allow me to reminisce. As an avid cricket fan teenager, I first heard of Lara when he made a 100 against the touring Ind in 1988. He was 19 yrs old and already nick-named "The Prince". Immediate debut was said to be on cards but materialized 2 years later only ... WICB made mistakes with Lara right from the start :)

    2. For ODI, I chose 25 as the cut-off since a top-order batsman would be considered well set after scoring 25 runs in an ODI (different thresholds give different but meaningful answers). Then, similarities in Viv-Yuvi-Hussey-SRT, Gilly & Sehwag, Kallis & Bevan, Lara & Aravinda are noteworthy. After getting set, Lara-Aravinda were more dangerous than RTP but less so than SRT, across the entire career.

    3. On item 2, if we restrict it till Dec 30, 1998, i.e., the end of Lara's brilliant 1st half in ODI's, the # are (86,86) for Lara and (77,93) for SRT. Again, note that the change is in avg only for Lara & SRT but not in SR ... really interesting!

  • Waspsting on October 8, 2012, 12:10 GMT

    but since WI weren't losing, no changes were made.

    Viv Richards might have had a hand in this. Reading between the lines of Viv's book suggests as much - he says things about how he believed in sticking to the players you had he once told the press after Lara hit superstardom that "he kept Lara back a little because he was so special and he wanted him to develop in his own time" (paraphrased)

    Sounds like Bull to me!

    That said, anyone saying Viv himself was forced out, consider that Lara took his place (they could both have been fitted in - Richardson was a fixture, they were sticking to Hooper - and Arthurton and Lara were the two new guys)

    Viv would have competed for his place with Lara and Arthurton (and Arthurton had at the time of Viv's retirement been preferred, and the WI board was notorious for not making changes.

    Interesting, huh?

  • Waspsting on October 8, 2012, 12:00 GMT

    re: tribute articles in general, Ananth - i think there's more value to these for slightly less than the top players because most of us probably know the ins-and-outs of the top guys. (Laxman was a more informative piece to me for this reason).

    (or maybe I'm mis-perceiving this based on a false assumption that everyone knows the value of the top guys?) [[ I have already covered this in the previous comment. Ananth: ]] Guys like Azharuddin, Sayeed Anwar, Saqlain Mushtaq, Aravinda De Silva - i think they'd be good guys to do a piece like this on.

    If the thrust of the article is to show a player was "good/great" that begs the question "by what standard"? - and the comments go into comparative type trains of thought trying to gauge the unspoken part of "this player was great".

    ---

    1 more thing about Lara, which i haven't seen mentioned. Its commonly said that he was forced out, less commonly said that he was slowed down in starting.

    you had guys failing in the WI order for a couple of years, Lara scoring tons of runs in FC cricket (cont)

  • Waspsting on October 8, 2012, 11:44 GMT

    I was more surprised to see Gavaskar matched Lara on this.

    Given Lara's penchant for huge scores - its not much surprise his support numbers are so low, either.

    I was more curious who these several old timers with a smaller ratio of support are. Lara's huge scores coupled with frequent top scoring seem a hard combo to beat. Sobers perhaps runs him close here, and Headley of course.

    re: important peers - this stat, too, seems (forgive me) unnecessary. Obviously many players are on the same level with Lara here, since many of his contemporaries are on the same plane as him!

    since Lara played alongside many 50+ batsman, i'd guess the previous generation (Gavaskar, Richards etc.) would be higher than Lara's time?

    And we've already covered how far ahead of his teamates he was in the other stat.

    That Lara was miles ahead of his teamates is obvious, and I would be satisfied with one stat to show it numerically (sometimes the numbers don't support the commonly held perceptions) [[ Let us say I have presented the same known numbers. Can you honestly say that you were aware, specifically aware, not a generic, "everyone knows this" type of awareness of the following. 1. That Lara is the only top batsman whose next batsman scores total to less than 50% when he has played a top score. 2. That the top-5 innings balls played average of Lara is higher than that of Dravid. 3. That in terms of the "form-dip", new it may be, not known it may be, but is a clear identifiable measure, the field would be led by the two greats: Tendulkar and Lara, even on the revised measure. 10 and 9. If you say Yes, I will agree that this tribute article was waste of time, at least for you. As I have already mentioned, many other facts such as the losing average of 42+, the 67% over team-mates, the 173.2 RpI value of Hundreds, the 2.6% of not outs (lowest amongst the top-100 batsmen), all might very well be very obvious to a few but not so obvious to many others. But as many readers have pointed out, they may not be aware of all these, and more. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on October 8, 2012, 11:34 GMT

    re: form dips - nice idea, but i don't like the idea of giving another "form dip" if there's a failure after 4 failures/1 "dip" (that's double counting - like saying 4 wickets in 4 balls is two hat-tricks).

    I would see 5 failures in a row as the same run of bad form - and a worse one than 4 failures - but giving 5 failures "two dips"... doesn't seem fair to me. [[ Can we do this instead. Add the numbers. For Lara it will be 4+5 which is 9. For SRT it will be 4+6 which is 10. For the single form-dip batsmen it will be 4. So the index values are somewhat together. The point is only to throw something up and see whether anything further can be made of that. Ananth: ]] re: top 5 innings - (i'll be blunt, I trust Ananth, you know me well enough to know there's no malice involved, just trying to save space. which i've actually not done by writing the apology)

    Everyone probably knew this already. Guys scored 400 and 375, it follows logically he'd probably be on top here. (shouldn't the average by higher? You've divided total runs by 5 - but the 400 was a not out?) [[ The answer I give is the same I have given to Alex earlier. What I presented are RpI values. I see that a 250* should be treated as 250. It is silly to give addl credit for remaining not out at 250 and less credit for getting out at 380. Especially for big inns. Ananth: ]] Balls faced not surprising either - you'd have to face lots of balls to score the 2 big scores there, wouldn't you?

    re: Highest scorer stats - not surprising Lara leads the moderns - his lone hand rep is well known (cont) [[ Looks like everything is well known. So why waste time presenting the same thing. So why a tribute at all. Everyone knows everything. The point, WS, is that there are many many readers out there for whom many of these tables are new or not available in a single place. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on October 8, 2012, 5:13 GMT

    @Ananth: I decided to dig a bit more for Lara by looking at his ODI record. Of course, why he stopped opening on a regular basis in '93 is a mystery. If we take the innings cut-off as 25, Lara's (avg, SR) jumps from (40.5,80) to (74,87). The # for others:

    SRT=(79,92), RTP=(69,85), Viv=(78,94), Kallis=(83,77), Sanath=(64,99), Bevan=(85,77), M Waugh=(70,83), Inzy=(74,81), Anwar=(66,86), Gilly=(60,104), Hayden=(68,84), RD=(68,77), Gayle=(72,91), Sehwag=(63,112).

    So, the jump in avg is normal but the jump in SR is remarkable: RTP, Viv, Kallis, RD show no such increase. This suggests he might have been slow to start and not a natural beast in the first 15 overs.

    Lara's list of great ODI innings is probably not that long but features 16 innings with 110+ scores, most of which came vs top teams. IMO, 139 off 125 vs Oz in '95 was his greatest ODI innings and, naturally, won the match vs a very top class bowling attack. [[ My recent ODI-career third analysis shows Lara did not have that much variation in Strike rates across the three segments: 77.3, 80.7, 82.0. Move up but not to the level you have indicated. Your splits are not uniform and subjective in nature. SRT: 82.7, 90.2, 85.5. Distinct move in the middle. Ponting: 75.1, 83.9, 82.6. Low first segment. Jayasuriya: 92.5, 86.9, 95.2. Big drop in the middle. Richards: 83.1, 92.4, 92.0. Low first segment. Lara probably lacked the single minded devotion that Tendulkar brings to the batting effort. He could have gone a bit further in ODIs. Opening the innings would have been ideal for this. Whatever I may feel about Tendulkar's ODI career, I cannot but accept that he treats every match as an important match and every innings is serious business. Failures are not to be ignored. Ponting was similar. Richards was similar to Lara. However Richards achieved more possibly because he had quality around him. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on October 8, 2012, 4:34 GMT

    @Ananth:

    1. What I requested is a plot of (innings/100+ scores vs innings/50+ scores or innings/50+ scores vs avg in such innings) for all notable batsmen ... it would be a bit similar to your SR vs avg plots for ODI bowlers. [[ These are one off requests which require lot of work such as creating a new program. All for what. One comment after I post the table from you. If a new article can bve done based on these I accept, it is justified. Ananth: ]] 2. There must be a mistake in your calculations. With 50 as the cut-off, Statsguru gives these avg: 118 for Lara, 116 for RD, 117 for RTP, 136 for Kallis, 145 for Waugh, 126 for SRT, 130 for AB, 97 for Gooch, 108 for Viv, 138 for Sobers, etc. Again, such a table would be useful in a tribute to Lara. [[ Until I see the table and query I cannot comment. Anyhow what i presented are RpI values. I see that a 250* should be treated as 250. It is silly to give addl credit for remaining not out at 250 and less credit for getting out at 380. Especially for 50+ inns. Ananth: ]] 3. Partnership info is important in a tribute. I think Lara could not bring out the best in his team-mates --- he batted the way _he_ wanted to bat. In collaborative projects, some tend to bring out the best in others while some do things their way and I have observed that the teams comprising individuals of the first type usually win. This is the only negative that I find in Lara. SRT seems to have regained his inner equilibrium at last.

  • Alex on October 8, 2012, 3:08 GMT

    @Ananth: I just got a chance to read your article in detail and would like to request more analysis as follows:

    1. Lara's career had 3 main phases --- debut till 1995 when he reached great heights, a mediocre 1996-2000 saved by some unforgettable other worldly knocks, and a dazzling 2001-06 after Sobers corrected Lara's batting grip. What was Lara's freq of 50+ scores and 100+ scores (# innings per such knocks) in these 3 phases and how does he rate with other greats on these 2 metrics? [[ The analysis by year is there in the article itelf. You can split this into three groups and compile the data. Ananth: ]] 2. Let's quantify Lara's threat after he got set (say innings of 60+ balls or 30+ runs). What was his avg in such innings and how does that compare with other greats? (I have done this for him & SRT for various thresholds like 30 runs, 40 runs, etc.: surprisingly, SRT turns out to be more dangerous.). [[ The article "What made Bradman click" overed this in a way. With 50 as the cut-off, Bradman leads with an average of 149.9, followed by Hammond, 2ith 114.9 and Lara with 113.4. It is clear that once he got past a certain level, his numbers are very good. The funny thing is that even if you take the other side, how often did a player not reach 50, Lara's figure is 64.7%, which is lower than most top batsmen. Ananth: ]] 3. In terms of # net runs and avg/innings, who were the 3 batsmen with whom Lara had the best partnerships? How does he fare on that count vs other greats? IMO, this is the sole weakness of Lara. [[ How can we compare partnerships across teams. If India had 4 batsmen at 50+ and 2 at 45+ averages, there are bound to be more partnerships than West indies with one 50+ and 3 40+ averages. Also how can you hold one batsman responsible for not having enough partnerships. It may be a collective failure of the team. The collection of top batmen notwithstanding, India did not have enough pertnerships in England and Australia recently. It has to be treated as a collective failure of the batsmen and not that of Dravid (in England). Ananth: ]]

  • Meer on October 7, 2012, 23:55 GMT

    Appreciate the work Ananth and just want to reaffirm that apart from the analysis and hard numbers Lara was poetry in motion. Unfortunately no analysis can capture that. He may have lacked in grit and support when compared to other batsmen, but boy did he make up for it. Purely from an aesthetic perspective; that high backlift, that late cut, the fine sweep, the mesmerizing footwork and just the sumptuous display of the art of batting... In full flow Lara was the finest batsman i have had the privilege to see. I know the arguments between Tendulkar and Lara will rage on, SRT is certainly not finished and just in terms of sheer longevity he has Lara beat, but i often feel Lara is truly the purists batsman. A batsman who was able to do superlatively well what others could just dream of. Its based on the aesthetics of Lara that i rate him higher and that certainly is not a robust criteria. Oftentimes it'll just be subjective for us fans, and i fear thats just how it is.

  • dale on October 7, 2012, 18:29 GMT

    Andy Flower is the only contemporary who has a higher batting average (43.06) than Lara' 42.19 in matches lost.In the history of cricket only five other players (minimum 10 defeats),averaged higher than Lara ie Sutcliffe 54.45,Hutton 50 (RPI 43.58), Hobbs 46.07(44.97), Bradman 43.27 and Hazare 42.95(41). These 5 plus Peter May (40.50)are also the only ones whose RPI are over 40. Special mention should be made of AD Nourse average 41.59,Walcott 41.56,Trumper 41.52 and Chanderpaul 40.15. Lara is #6 of 12 players with 40 plus averages and #5 of 7 players with 40 RPI. So to place Lara in perspective it does not matter that he played on weak teams ,it is his performance that counts even in defeat. [[ I am amazed at Hobbs and Sutcliffe. That means England lost often but these two flourished. Those must be top-heavy English sides. Surprisingly many older batsmen performed very well in losses while most modern batsmen perform poorly in losses. As you have mentioned only two have over 40. Of course, Bradman's has to be discounted because relatively his 43.3 is only around 40% of his overall average. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on October 7, 2012, 13:59 GMT

    K, got that one completely wrong.

    Adding up all runs scored by Tendulkar in matches against Warne, dividing by 4, and dividing by the number of times Warne dismissed him gives Tendulkar an approximate average of 100.75 against Warne.

    100.75

    (that's me with egg on my face!) [[ I was surprised at the last sentence in your previous comment because Tendulkar has always been comfortable against Australia and has played Warne very well. he averages 57 and of his 11 100s, probably 8 were scored against the Australian attacks including Warne. I certainly expected his numbers to be much better than Lara's. However since I was watching the T20 WC Final, it has taken some time to respond. Wonderful win for West Indies who were my second favourite team in the tournament. It is great news that West Indian cricket is looking up. And finally there is a smile on the faces of the West Indian players, especially Sammy. If only they had come to India with Gayle. Do I hear your asking me which was my favourite team: well they lost today, but to a far better side. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on October 7, 2012, 13:27 GMT

    So far, we have -

    - baseline 39.14. If ave. higher, Lara up. If lower, Warne up.

    - solid facts for 2 series - ave. 74 (huge win Lara)

    - deduced stats for 2 series - ave. 37.75 (slight win Warne)

    - including 1st series, deduced for 1st 3 series - ave. 63.25 (huge win Lara)

    ---

    EVEN, minus the first series, Warne comes out comfortably below Lara overall.

    Combining known stats and deduced stats from middle 2 series' - Warne to Lara yields - 7 outs for 373 runs. Ave. 53.3

    In all matches, deduced Ave rises to 78.8

    For Warne to come out ahead relative to Lara - given each's career record - average would have to be below 39.1

    Actual average is 78.8 - double that.

    Average minus 1st series is 53.3 (higher than Lara's career average - IOWs he's doing as well against Warne as he is ALL BOWLERS he's faced in his career)

    OVERALL, how is Lara not coming up WELL ahead of Shane Warne?

    (let me do the stats for Tendulkar for comparisons sake. I'm pretty sure it'll be worse than Lara's)

  • Waspsting on October 7, 2012, 13:07 GMT

    @Gerry - lets try pure stats here, than.

    Warne averages 25.41 (runs per wicket). Lara averages 52.88 (runs per wicket).

    The mid-point of these figures is 39.14.

    Statistically, If Warne to Lara yields an average lower than that, Warne's on top. If higher Lara's on top.

    (this is just about Warne to Lara. doesn't matter to me if Lara's averaging 0 against everyone else, doesn't matter if Warne's averaging 100)

    We have 5 series - one of which you wish to exclude.

    We have stats for the last 2 series. it shows 3 dismissals @74 - or 222 runs.

    Lara scored 825 runs in that period, which means 222/825 gives the % of Lara's runs that came off Warne. 27% (which sounds about right, given a 4 man attack)

    now, we don't have stats for the other two series. What we do have is Lara scored 604 runs against Aus, and was dismissed 4 times by Warne.

    Assuming he scored 25% of his runs off Warne, approximately,150 runs off Warne for 4 dismissal - average 37.75 (apprx) for Warne to Lara (cont)

  • Sarosh on October 7, 2012, 10:29 GMT

    "In poor taste and not half as funny as it looks." Really ? It wasn't meant to be either. If you say Lara has a team peer ratio of X - what do we make of it? If you say it is 30% more than the next batsman in the list of top 50 run scorers - we may make a more contributive comment. In current form it's like saying SRT has made a million international runs . [[ I wasn't born yesterday. I can see and feel sarcasm some distance away. My request to you is to stay away from such comments. Ananth: ]] "Repeating something ad nauseum is not bringing additional insights." "Lara is the best/not so good, 153 is best/lucky/X is better, 400 is selfish/unselfish". Just about everything will be ad nauseum if you look at it that way. There is going to be considerable repetition when jousting among commentators. None more so than in the use of stats. [[ There are other analysis blogs which present analysis without personal comments. Ananth: ]]

  • Sarosh on October 7, 2012, 10:22 GMT

    Ananth, If you do an SRT tribute without any additional or comparative insights you will get exactly the same response as here..." SRT is the best/worst. So and So is better." etc. [[ Every tribute article cannot be a all-embracing comparative one. It is upto you guys to draw the comparisons. Ananth: ]] "there are many negative comments on Lara's numbers. At last count, about 7" 7 out of 188. Then you should state that only unmitigated praise of Lara will be published. Neither Lara, nor any other sportsman, is perfect.I don't know why we should pretend so. [[ As always, misunderstood and a typical reaction. I mentioned the 7 as the negative comments made by ME in the article. Not from the readers. Why, you yourself made more than 7. Ananth: ]] An SRT tribute will receive many more negative comments..There is a rabid anti SRT section out there. I am willing to bet a 100 you will receive at least 7 from G_t_m itself.

  • Ramesh Kumar on October 7, 2012, 8:12 GMT

    Gerry..I feel that tribute sections must be of open format. The idea is to get the right perspective of the player. Obviously, one will look at the favourable parts more and that is the idea of the tribute. I assume Ananth will always do it for true greats and no point in putting them down for the sake of so called balanced view. If you create specific tables and put some other batsmen for comparison, the topic will go off the track very quickly and rightly so as it talks of one aspect of performance. Even with "best player" analysis, we will ultimately be swayed by our likes and dislikes whatever be the data. Why spoil the fun on the tribute sections?

  • Ramesh Kumar on October 7, 2012, 8:03 GMT

    Thanks Ananth for reminding us that more relevant ones are in the article than analysing usefulness of Lara's 400. In fact, data related to balls faced in the top 5 innings by modern batsmen is a surprise. You need concentration over long period and we normally don't associate Lara for it. How is Lara's strike rate in those innings?If you have a weak batting support, one tries to be aggressive and get out early. Lara managed to have big scores despite it. Whichever way we slice it, big scores, long innings on balls faced, good strike rate and not to mention the beauty of his batting make Lara as one of everybody's favourites. [[ Thanks, Ramesh. I will summarize the runs in these innings. 400, 375, 279, 209 and 221 totalling 1484, almost the first list. The s/r works out to about 67.2, which is 12% higher than his career s/r. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on October 7, 2012, 7:26 GMT

    Srini, I saw that entire series (CUB One day triangular). Pak had been soundly defeated the previous year, and put up a good performance from the beginning this time. Australia were surprised by them, and with West Indies recovering, were hammered from both sides. In one match, Junior Murray, the WK, opened with a ferocious attack, and I was hopeful that we were free of the timid duo of Sherwin Campbell and Stuart Williams for ever. Then Lara made the 2 centuries and 90, and seemed to be warming up. Pak produced two super-quick bowlers Mohd Akram and Zahid, and in the final the best teams met. But what a show Wasim Akram put on. At this stage he had reached the peak of his powers, and especially in the second final, where Ambrose had blasted Pak out, and WI had a small target to chase. Akram made the entire WI top order shake like a leaf in a thunderstorm, and led Pak like a champion. Subsequently he stiffened up a bit, and lost pace steadily, but in 96-97 he flattened everyone.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on October 7, 2012, 6:15 GMT

    Ananth, I had read the article in detail, and while very impressive for what it is, the one improvement I would suggest is that instead of making it a tribute by highlighting everything good about the player, why not freeze on a standard set of parameters, exhaustive though it may be, and array the player's position in all of them. Naturally, an article on Lara has to be a tribute, such a brilliant player was he, but presenting all aspects would make it more objective. [[ As you wrote the comment you yourself would have realized the difficulties. The tribute article is to show everything to know about one player. I will not accept that the inforation is freely availab;e. You would have to put in about 25 Cricinfo queries and even then you would have the data in a difficult for. Leave that. My normal article, asy the decade analysis is to take a single topic and go across. Whhat you are asking for a combination of both. No way can this be done efficiently. What do I do. There would be about 20 huge tables, some in three dimensions. It would also take too much time. Probably I should stop these tribute articles. And there are many negative comments on Lara's numbers. At last count, about 7. Ananth: ]] Hence for instance while you have % innings on which he top scored, you would also sharpen the presentation by looking at % team runs scored, ratio of average to peer-average T7B3, scores at his peak 10 years (previous article), using current method, the average bowling quality faced,

    This may lengthen the article unreasonably. But perhaps you can present in some of the tables the top 10 batsmen in each measure. that would enable us to look at other batsman and provide a better context for appreciating Lara.

  • Sarosh on October 7, 2012, 2:56 GMT

    Rob, Agree completely. Lara was not as inconsistent as made out to be. I feel that his petulance at times made it appear so .Not the actual scores.

    Ananth, Don't wish to disappoint you- but Lara's career is so well known to most cricket fans that a lot of the data you put up is actually old hat! The readers ,with their different perspectives sometimes bring in fresh insight. [[ Probably true. Then as per you, why should I do another tribute, say SRT's, since EVERYTHING about him is old hat. My article will only be used as a forum for exchanges. Ananth: ]] But ,there are two sides to everything: 1)Lara's top 5 inn. show that when in he would not let up. However, conversely, it also helps being in a weak team here – Otherwise , in a strong team , the team score may get so huge than a declaration may have had to be made . The flip side is that the top 5 inn. have more impact on the rest of his career than any other batsman. i.e the remaining 227 inn. then look less hot.

    2)The form factor may need some more tweaking.I recall one of the sequences of SRT you put up where he was getting out to just one bowler -Collins.The 0,0,8,0 I think. Can this be put down to general overall form?

    3)The peer factors- Lara was much better than his team mates. Yes. [[ Please do not insult your intelligence, or mine, with such sarcastic comments. In poor taste and not half as funny as it looks. Ananth: ]] And so , if only in half jest and with a wink to Meety - a lot of the “fun” is from fresh reader insights [[ Repeating something ad nauseum is not bringing additional insights. Ananth: ]]

  • Ananth on October 7, 2012, 2:02 GMT

    I have been quite disappointed with the comments. They seem to be follow a pre-set pattern with very scant reading of the article. Ah! here is the chance to put in my tuppenny-worth on the 400 (why not the 375), renew the favourite useless rivalry (which exists in the minds of some followers only) or bring in one or more of batsman-bowler contests, or go to town on strengths/weaknesses. I have introduced many new measures in this article. I expected some discussion on the same, the value or lack of the same. Possible improvements etc. Nothing. On the Form dips, there were two comments, in passing. On the top-5 innings averages, both runs and balls, no comments. On the player being the top-scorer, nothing. On the support factor derived, no comments. On the important Peer factors, nothing. Granted that I spent some tinme on the 400. That was to clear the misconceptions. Fine, let that be rebutted. But for all comments to go on one or two threads only is a major disappointment. At least in the previous article, Waspsting would revert to some part of the analysis. Here not even that. I agree this is a forum to have a free discussion. But the article concerned should take front stage. That is not happening. You guys are not the 2-minute skimming readers. You should look at the new analytic segments, understand those, take me to task if unsound and suggest improvements. Else why should I do one more tribute article. That will follow the same pattern. This article still has a week's life left. Ananth

  • Rob on October 7, 2012, 1:07 GMT

    Sarosh,

    You fail to recognise the some useful parts of the official rankings - they do account in a way for a great start (so Lara's 277, CAA 57.9 gives a rating of an ordinary 527 at test 5, some way behind DGB's fifth test rating of 659) - and one can fall more quickly down those rankings than a cumulative average would show (so Lara's first ICC peak after the 95 Oval test OF 898 is not maintained or matched until "the second coming" at Easter 1999, when his CAA drops from 61 to just over 50).

    Whether Ananth's definition of a slump (4 consecutive single figure outs) is qualitatively more useful than any other, I am unsure. Those figures might have shown Lara failing to maintain his peak ratings performance as well as SRT, JK, RTP, MH - but had an unsurpassed ability to return to the summit more often. [[ Thanks for referring, at least obliquely, to the new measure I have introduuced. No one seems to be reading the article. Most comments are pre-determined. Ananth: ]] Being strangled just 1 ball after getting to a 100 in Antigua in 1999 was his greatest failure given that he had a chance to win the series with just another hour of batting

  • Gerry_the_Merry on October 6, 2012, 14:42 GMT

    Waspsting - I am including all of Warne's series except 1992-93 merely because regardless of result, neither of them was the main batsman / strike bowler for his team. But by 1994-95 they were well established.

    Now in the other 4 series where Warne played WI, I am NOT excluding anything. In the first 2, Warne took 22% of the wickets. In the next 2, Lara averaged 74 against Warne as well as the entire team.

    In 1996-97 Lara failed, through out the series except Perth 132, which was in the 5th test while the series was already gone. In 2005-06, he again scored 226 in the 3rd test but the series was lost with crushing defeats in the first two tests when Lara failed (for all practical purposes Lara's scores of 13/14/30/45 are failures in the context of the massive margins).

    So full credit to Lara, whether or not Warne's shoulder was injured (he was back to his best in 1999-00) for Lara's epics in 1998-99.

    But overall, in Aus/WI, how does Warne come out bottom of the heap against Lara?

  • Waspsting on October 6, 2012, 12:45 GMT

    with ball of century and all that followed (6 matches, 34 wickets @ 26)

    injured in '99? perhaps, but he was running through SL in SL (3 matches 20 wickets@ 14.37 in his next series 3 months later.

    what of '05/06? That series started 3 months after Warne's heroics in Eng (5 matches, 40 wickets@ 20)

    --

    In conclusion, 4/5 series, Lara topped Warne.

    (i think we can agree on this - your point is that for various reasons, 3 of those series' aren't fair to Warne in the comparison - right?)

    However, Warne seems to have been very successful in general around the time of those series. The only pattern i see here is his relative failings against Brian Lara - not bad form, not not having come into his own, not injury.

  • Waspsting on October 6, 2012, 12:28 GMT

    @Gerry,

    at best, i think you have Warne vs Lara went Warne's way in one series than.

    A VERY far cry from Warne vs Lara equal overall.

    in 95, you have one dismissal. Lara topped the WI batting averages (nothing spectacular), Warne was bottom of the Aus bowling averages (nothing horrendous) - but hard to say justify Warne > Lara in that series by any stretch of the imagination.

    in 96/97, you have 3 dismissals out of 9 - a good record. (throw in that Warne probably didn't get to bowl at Lara all that much in other innings, since McGrath nailed him for low scores 4 times) - and you have a good case for Warne winning that one.

    You've dismissed all other encounters due to Warne's injury, or not having come into his own - is that correct?

    Not coming into his own '92 - perhaps, probably not. 2 months after that series, Warne was doing his first wonder performance in NZ, and within 6 months, he was turning heads in Eng.

  • Sarosh on October 6, 2012, 9:57 GMT

    Boll, I would add Sehwag to Bradman and lara in your list of “irresistible forces”. Complete maverick – but if in the mood, and in ,he could score big and insanely fast.I have never seen a batsman capable of such carnage.

    As the “immovable force” I would pick Kallis over Dravid. Once well set, he will never throw his wicket away. Just can’t get him out.

  • Sarosh on October 6, 2012, 9:53 GMT

    I am referring to a combination of dismissals and a subjective element.

    The bowlers I have actually seen Lara look uncomfortable against are Donald, Bond, Waqar, Akram, Saqlain and some others. The stats back this up. SRT, even when fit, looked uncomfortable against Collins, Price, Saqlain, Donald, Cronje and others; again the stats back this up. In the mid 2000s SRT looked uncomfortable against everyone except Bangladesh – so, I am not even taking that into consideration in the manner which you have – i.e. by just posting the general stats. A lot of the damage to his stats against some of the bowlers you mention occurred then. You wouldn’t have seen SRT looking uncomfortable against McGrath, Murali, Lee etc in the 1990s to early 2000s. Anderson though is one I missed that you nailed. He can be very good at home in the right conditions – and I would give him the edge over SRT.

    If you face hundreds of bowlers, in a wide variety of conditions over multi-decade periods you are going to have some sort of weakness, if only temporary, crop up. This may sound like blasphemy – but never mind SRT and Lara, even Bradman’s weaknesses would have been exposed in a similar situation.

  • Sarosh on October 6, 2012, 9:51 GMT

    Srini, Sorry again, but at no point have I compared SRTs and BCLs individual performances against any one or even a small group of bowlers. You brought it up. I maintain that these sort of narrow and specific head-to-heads are for the most part meaningless unless they cover a very large number of matches relative to a player’s career. There are many, many good bowlers.

    I thought I clearly indicated that the only concrete element in the links you posted was the number of times BCL and SRT were out to Donald, Wasim, and Waqar (you have now excluded Wasim and Waqar). Almost all else, including the average thus obtained is, as a matter of fact, extremely nebulous and misleading.

    You sought to show that both Lara and SRT were poor against great, true quicks like Donald, Wasim and Waqar. I have pointed out that the stats you use are vague and incapable of making such a claim I too am aware of the “list” you have posted from the cricinfo base- I could have copy/pasted the same...

  • srini on October 6, 2012, 8:48 GMT

    With that Tendulkar discipline (not that Lara didn't have any), he might scored even more but would have probably been a lot less flamboyant than he eventually turned out to be.

    Right fav innings, my 3 favorite Lara innings are not from tests but ODIs. 3 matches from the 96-97 b&h series. Back then chasing 240 was a tough ask but WI chased 281, 262 & 257 (nos maybe slightly off) against Oz, Pak & Oz back to back (again maybe slightly off) with Lara scoring 104(??), 91(???) & 103 (??) to win them matches. That was the 1st time in forever that Oz failed to make their home tourney final. Maybe Boll/Gerry could give a better description of these matches than meself.

  • srini on October 6, 2012, 8:42 GMT

    Boll, I have seen that list. I must admit I'd forgotten about that series article by Ananth. That got me through a lot of boring hours in the office. Of course Ananth being Ananth, I believed he might have a more comprehensive database. Anyways back to the article, one other thing I have observed about Lara is that he looks to attack even during his bad patches. I hate to bring up SRT again but Lara certainly lacks a discipline that SRT has. In that 03/04 series in Oz, SRT feeling that he was getting out a lot driving through the offside, he completely stopped playing on the offside. When I am arguing with my friends I playfully call it "the leg side double hundred". The only time Lara blocked was that 7 hr 120 against Ind that only saved the test with a hell of a lot of help from the rain gods. I believe the 4th day was completely rained off and WI barely drew the test on the 5th day. contd....

  • srini on October 6, 2012, 7:13 GMT

    Ananth,

    My point was the list sarosh put up was one horrible list. Flat out wrong in my opinion. Maybe he meant low scores I dunno but, like I said earlier, some casual fan with no leaning on who's better would look at the list and take it at face value and assume SRT was rarely gotten better off by great bowlers and BCL was regularly and assume SRT was better off than Lara.

    Also, bowling does make an impact. How often have seen batsmen living by the edge of their skin against 2-3 frontline bowlers and gotten out to part timers (like ME Waugh for eg) because of the pressure built by the main bowlers? I remember Srikkanth telling in an interview that couple of our batsmen got out to Gomes trying to attack him because they couldn't buy a penny against the rest. So while AAD might not have gotten out SRT 9 or 10 times, he might have had an ever so slight hand in helping him get out to Cronje multiple times.

  • Boll on October 6, 2012, 7:04 GMT

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uz--5hHmNEY

    8 minutes of 153*

  • srini on October 6, 2012, 6:07 GMT

    Ananth, Like a true human being I fail to hold my promise. @sarosh, like a pot calling the kettle black you present stats that "untenable and nebulous". Donald got lara out 6 times in 10 tests and srt out 5 times in 11 tests. How is it that BCL fared worse than SRT? [[ This one only I can explain. Probably Sarosh means 60% against 44.4%. Ananth: ]] You put up an extremely poor list as such. 8 Bowlers who have dismissed each batsman most times (wkts/matches) BCL: Mcgrath(15/24),Nel(8/6???),Warne(7/20),Fraser(7/15),Caddick(6/14),Donald(6/10),Gough(6/8),Kumble(5/14) SRT: Murali(8/19),Anderson(7/10),Mcgrath(6/9),Dizzy(6/8),Vettori(5/15),Lee(5/12),Donald(5/11),Bonus:Cronje(5/11). The list you have chosen is misleading and skewed as they come. [[ I am not sure whether we can draw any meaningful inferences from these overall stats. If McGrath dismissed Lara often at low scores it might mean something. Similarly did Anderson dismiss SRT at low scores or he just captured the wicket later in the innings. My feeling is that dismissals at scores lower than a notional number, 50 is good since it is close to many averages, mean something. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on October 6, 2012, 5:01 GMT

    cont`d. I think what separates Lara from anyone I`ve seen (and people say the same of Bradman) was that, once set, he looked undismissable. We all remember the Dravid/Laxman epic - BCL produced many solo performances of a similar standard.

    His maiden century (277 in Sydney), some of which I watched live, was one of many - unluckily run out (as the Australian team led by that most effusive of men, AB, admitted) by Martyn(?) who apologised to BCL as he walked off for cutting short what seemed a limitless innings. He left some of the really hard men of modern Australian cricket (Border, S.Waugh, McDermott, Merv Hughes) feeling completely impotent. Over the next 15 years he did that on a pretty regular basis - sure you could get him early, but you always knew that when he clicked he could turn a very good bowling side into spectators for a day.

    As I said, people talk about the `oh no, here we go` factor with Bradman when he passed 50 - Lara was as close as I`ve seen to that.

  • Boll on October 6, 2012, 4:39 GMT

    @srini. here`s the link for all +600 (runs in a series) efforts.

    http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/records/282849.html

    I think you`ll also find that Ananth`s (08/11?) article will tell you pretty much everything you need to know. As far as +500 series go, Bradman/Lara(7), Sobers/Gavaskar (6) and Ponting (5) lead the way.

    In terms of +700 series; Bradman has 5 (out of 11 series); Sobers 3; Weekes, Gavaskar, and Lara 2.

    I suppose this does show Lara`s appetite for runs ( 9 test doubles, highest first class score/highest test score underlines it perhaps), but I can`t remember thinking about him in that way. Perhaps the expression has been over-used to describe players who ploughed out centuries in rather nondescript first class games, or who hated being dismissed?

    cont`d

  • Sarosh on October 6, 2012, 4:15 GMT

    Srini, Sorry, but your stats are untenable. As mentioned, the average in matches “including” players is nebulous. If Cronje took SRTs wicket we cannot give credit to Donald. In the ’99 series vs. Pak Wasim/Waqar did not get SRT out once .SRT had a very poor series except for his 136. His avg. in matches “including” the 2 Ws would thus take a hit. Similarly Ambrose has not got SRT out once in 5 matches. One bowler who may take credit as having got the better of SRT is McGrath. But, as has been pointed out by many others in this blog, the 2 full series in which they played together things are pretty even. SRT played 9 matches vs. McGrath .After 9 matches BCL played vs. McGrath their stats are almost identical. BCL clearly adapted as he went along (it helped that he was relatively uninjured).It stands to reason that SRT (or some other great batsman) would do as well. Other bowlers who did well vs. SRT were Price, Collins, Cronje, Afridi, Saqlain etc. Bowlers who did well against BCL were Kumble, Saqlain, Donald, etc. There will always be some weak links. We cannot read too much and go on about this.

  • Sarosh on October 6, 2012, 4:03 GMT

    Rob, Your defense of Lara’s consistency is understandable ,but,like Srini, the stats you use to demonstrate this are flawed and open to interpretation. The ICC avg. like cumulative averages rely considerably on the start of a player’s career. Lara had a great start to his career, avg. 58 after just his 5th Test (the 277) . And after a great 3 – 4 yrs his cumulative avg. hit 60 in 1996. To impact this would reqire prolonged slumps and not minor inconsistency –which is all we may accuse Lara of. For eg. Lara’s yearly avg. from 1996-2002 shows more ups and downs than his cumulative average will after the strong buffer obtained by his great start.

    Stats are a bit like infinitely large onions- you can keep peeling away layer after layer.

  • Chris on October 5, 2012, 18:15 GMT

    @Srini SA actually was SRT's bogey team in the 90s, (but it strangely isn't the case now since Steyn's debut . odd isn't it? ) Can you say the same for BCL and Eng? Don't agree with your analogy/comparison.I can do 'Gerry the Merry'* and give the excuse of SRT playing 4 tests as a 16 year old in 89 and struggling with back spasms in 99 for SRT's lower average against Wasim and Waqar. *Gerry the merry does remember Aussie bowler's injury issues during some famous innings pretty clearly.After SRT he is after BCL now. @Anantha My criticism was not directed at you but Indians generally. Lara playing something like a dozen+ tests at home against India but having a mediocre average. Obviously Indians did something right against him? If Harby and Ishant are credited for Ponting's poor record vs India in India , then why not apply this to Lara?

  • srini on October 5, 2012, 17:29 GMT

    Ananth,

    Do you have any data on players scoring 500 runs in a series most times? You'll probably ask me why 500 but I'll use your defence (why 100s??;-)). In this day and age its probably very difficult to do it with 3 test series but I think the prince might come tops (2nd to Don of course) in this measure. Probably one of very few players who scored 700 runs in a series more than once.

    I think scoring 500 runs in a series shows a big appetite. [[ I don't really have the data readily available. But I had done some work on batting in series some time back and you can refer to that. http://blogs.espncricinfo.com/itfigures/archives/2011/08/test_series_performances_the_t.php Cricinfo gives a standard table on 600+ runs and Lara features 3 times. Ananth: ]]

  • Rob on October 5, 2012, 14:10 GMT

    Great article,

    It is odd that ESPN (or even your fellow blog contributors) won't give you access to their databases (or even a more varied selection of art) - it is a good thing that cricketers, including BCL, were / are not so proprietal.

    As a counterpoint to the common refrain that Lara was inconsistent, one need only look to his average ICC ranking over his career, 784 points (third place behind Hobbs 799 and DGB at 855). Games where Lara rated over 750 points account for 74.8% of his career (again he is third behind Sobers 79.6% and DGB 84.6%) - whereas his average ratings / %s for games where he rated at both the lower basic form 650 level and the 850 level are further behind behind though not too shabby either (he is comfortably in the top 12)

    It is a shame that to appear consistent for many people, Lara needs to score a 153 almost 131 times.

  • srini on October 5, 2012, 10:10 GMT

    This is the last one wrt the SRT/BCL comparison Ananth. I promise. @Chris, There is nothing to hide here. My love for Lara doesn't get in here anywhere. For eg in that 400* series BCL scored 500 runs in 4 tests but he had a horrible time in the 6 innings prior to 400*. I firmly believe Lara had a poor series against Eng inclusive of 400*. Just goes to show how abjectly poor he was the rest of the time. Similarly, SRT might have scored 3 100s but in spite of that he averages 32 which goes to show how poor he was the rest of the time. I firmly believe one swallow (or 3 in this case) does not make it a summer. Fact is that both batsmen have had it rough and given their career paths, the similarity isn't that surprising.

  • Meety on October 5, 2012, 10:10 GMT

    And with a slight feeling of guilt, I hope you revert to the article !!!

    - ps: I meant that in a good way!

    [[ Mine, Andrew, was also in humorous vein. Ananth: ]]

  • Amey Pitre on October 5, 2012, 8:22 GMT

    Hi Anant, very good work by you. Lara is one of the great batsman cricket have ever produced.

  • San on October 5, 2012, 4:58 GMT

    @gerry_the_merry. Mcgrath,Warne and co.certainly comprised one of the all-time great attacks. Ironically ,however, they were at the receiving end of some of the greatest maulings and comebacks as well! Lara/Adams and VVS/Dravid batting out the entire days.Vaughn,Pietersen pastings. And in several pressure situations they seemed to lack the firepower to wipe out the tail- as opposed to other great attacks. It seemed either they get you early -or the better batsmen were going to make you pay. [[ This seems to apply to all modern batsmen. Almost all top batsmen have a single-digit dismissal % of between 20 and 27. On the other hand, many top batsmen way back had this number at 15%. Maybe the more attacking attitude prevalent nowadays. Ananth: ]] Agree with you about the Lara-Warne bit.Seemed pretty equal to me. Mcgrath either got Lara early (when it was definitely easier) or else it was upto Warne.Much tougher proposition after Lara was in ,if you ask me.

    Different perspective and way of looking at the same bunch of stats.

  • San on October 5, 2012, 4:52 GMT

    Looking at it this way, once a good batsman is in the chances of him scoring big become much higher than at the start of his innings. So,if for SRT we assume even a career avg. of around 55 –had he been allowed to complete his innings he should have had a career total of more than 17000 runs. How come you don’t see this angle?

    Re.the "new ammended" best innings list I hope weightage is given on how OTHER batsmen performed ONLY based on the quality and current form of the other batsmen concerned. A star in a bunch of goofs cannot be given additional brownie points. Nor can a VVS 281 be given fewer points because a Dravid in good current form ALSO had a good day. [[ These are very generalized comments. The number of parameters is around 12 and will take care of various situations. Richards' 189 out of 272 and 181 out of 360 have to be treated differently. I can easily give a Test example or two. Support (or lack of support) is an important fact. Sehwag's 201 with scant support at Galle deserves a much better valuation than Bell's 235 at Oval with support galore. Context matters a lot. Tendulkar's 105 against Bangladesh in 2010 is probably better, in context, than many a more heralded innings by the same master. Coming in at 10 for 2 and scoring a 120 is different to coming in at 150 for 2 and scoring the same number of runs. The Innings Ratings will not please all. That really does not matter. That is not the purpose. A fair weight for the parameters, coverage of all conditions, accurate computations, absence of pre-determined ideas and common sense are what are required. After all only 10 innings can occupy the top-10 positions. Each person will have his own views, coloured by his own personal likes and dislikes. Many of these facts, very valid I accept, are subjective and off-scorecard. My program does not know these and will never know. Whether the previous team score before a classic is a 66 or 51, does not exist for my program. The program will obviously know this but cannot make any logical deduction. It will exist in the minds of followers, however. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on October 5, 2012, 4:04 GMT

    WaspSting – interesting comments. However, post ’98, while indeed Lara may have averaged 74 against Warne, I see that he has averaged exactly 74 against everyone (1998-99 series and 2005-06 series only, as in others Warne did not play). Secondly, what scores Warne dismissed him at (note, not for) is less relevant that the previous stat of who Lara scored runs against. Thirdly, McGrath dismissing Lara more often in single figures may be only one side of the story – was Lara often already in double figures by the time Warne was introduced given poor opening combinations and strong Aussie pace attack?

    There is more merit in your overall period argument. But even here, including 1992-93 series distorts the comparison between two prizefighters since Warne was not really the real deal then. Hence take only from 1994-95, and 1996-97 – Warne did ~ 4 wickets per test, which should make it ~21/22%.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on October 5, 2012, 3:40 GMT

    Ananth...! what you are saying is enough for an article. It is not 153*??? Which innings takes the top prize will be a guess that can draw 200 respones... [[ Work in process, my dear Gerry. And maybe I may solve the problem of the pointed queries also. Mulling over how to present in a manner blunting such queries. Anyhow there are many numbers which are all in the same class as 270 and 153: 188, 132, 201, 267, 253, 213, 281, 149, 154, 146, 222 et al. Deliberately mixed up so that no inference can be drawn. I am a great fan of Ellery Queen's locked-room mysteries. So figure it out or wait. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on October 5, 2012, 2:51 GMT

    I feel there are 4 major reasons why Lara's 153 will be considered greater than Bradman's 270.

    - 4th innings chase - this is always the most thrilling and tense part of any test match, especially a close one. Bradman's innings came in the 3rd inn, also challenging, but just a bit less demanding [[ All said and done Australia had a lead of 124. Ananth: ]] - solo - at 80/3 and 105/5, West Indies were gone, and kept losing wickets steadily. It was apparent that Lara was determined to climb and impossible mountain. In 270, we had Fingleton also. Bradman did not have to shepherd the tail - top quality attack - with all due respect, McGrath / Gillespie / Warne was one of the best attacks of all time, though 1) Warne's shoulder and 2) Gillespie's back problem that day diluted it a bit. - Tension prevailed until the very last ball - Bradman's innings flowered into a partnership with Fingleton and took the game away from England. Bradman's inn did not come on a bad pitch. But low Ist inn scores makes this seem very big. [[ I fully agree. The two low first innings scores elevate the value of this innings. And the contrived second innings, with Bradman coming in at 97 for 5, also means that, at that point in time, 23 wickets had fallen for 370 runs. But my recent workings indicate that Bradman's 270 is not in top place. The accurate CTD figures and the various adjustments seem to lower the value of the innings slightly. But that does not mean Lara's 153 goes to the top. No, sir !!!. Ananth: ]]

  • Meety on October 5, 2012, 2:32 GMT

    Hi Ananth, Top article as usually the case. Worthy tribute to a great batsmen. There will always be the comparisons between BCL & SRT, to me BCL's "star" shone brighter than SRT's, but for a much shorter period of time. Superficially, I would say a fundamental difference between BCL & SRT is in the way they applied themselves to the Sport. Whilst both were/are professionals, I tend to think/imagine that BCL had more interests off the pitch than SRT may of? == == == Being an Ozzy, I applauded that 153n.o through gritted teeth, & could only get over that innings TEN YEARS later! One man doing that to the undisputed heavyweights of world cricket! == == == As an Ozzy, I also applaud Lara for getting his 400 against ENGLAND! Has given me plenty of ammunition against persons from the Old Dart! Well done Brian Champion Lara! == == == [[ And if you get tired of the 400, you can always go back 10 years. Ananth: ]] Sometimes I find myself concentrating more on your responses & "reminders" than your actual work & the good comments by your constant readers! [[ And with a slight feeling of guilt, I hope you revert to the article !!! Ananth: ]]

  • Chris on October 4, 2012, 22:18 GMT

    @Srini SRT has a clear edge (not a big one I agree) over BCL in your 'stats'. you showed your love for Lara by ignoring the 100s of SRT and calling them 'failures'. @Anantha May I know why ANIL KUMBLE ,by far the most succesful spinner vs Lara is not mentioned? why are Indian spinners and bowlers in general success against him also ignored ? he played them mostly at home to top it! Indians at cricinfo have been persistent in bashing Indian bowlers except 'unlucky' Ishant Sharma this year.'Any talk about weakness against spin should be killed at birth because of his performance against Sri Lanka.' this makes Indian bowlers look like 'outcasts who don't deserve no credit for any good thing they do'. Lara never enjoyed facing Kumble, remember the injured jaw? Clearly his shuffle cost him there. But only glorifying their own batsman is Indian way. Srinath's 13 wkts. in Kolkata 99 are forgotten.India is the only country who don't find their bowlers good spells as 'positives' in a loss. [[ I am the last person to glorify batsmen, that too, Indian batsmen, at the cost of Indian bowlers. I have always fought for the bowlers and given them equal credit. Why bring the injured jaw which was a freakish situation. Why bring in Srinath's 13 wkts against Pakistan in this context. You do not seem to have read many articles in this blogspace. I have talked about Srinath's 13 wkts in glowing terms. Finally, Lara's 29 dismissals against India are to the following bowlers. Kumble: 5 Raju: 4 Joshi: 2 Sehwag: 1 8 Pace bowlers: 17 Does not this tell a story. Ananth: ]]

  • dale on October 4, 2012, 21:25 GMT

    Brian Lara was a magnificent batsman, one who took chances and batted with the creative freedom which many other illustrious players wished they could duplicate. Stan McCabe was much like Lara , a batsman who by the sheer audacity of his stroke play,made other batsmen wish they could bat like him. Lara flourished as the modern Atlas in the mould of George Headley but certainly he was not as circumspect in his strokeplay as Headley which some interpreted as being reckless. Tendulkar when questioned by the reporter Anjali Rao about the best batsman in the world,without hesitation stated that Lara was his favourite batsman to watch.I have also heard Lara state his unquestioned admiration for Tendulkar. Who is better? Who can really say? That is where the fun begins and it should be kept that way.

  • Kaushik on October 4, 2012, 18:46 GMT

    And i may be wrong but i feel the low no of not out will always be d case with more falshy batsman. Batsman like sehwag, gayle, lara etc are flashy batsman and are prone to having fewer not outs. And frankly there's not much of a difference btw havin an avg of 52 or 56. And havin watched sachin changing his methods frm carefree and dynamic to riskfree n consistent i must say while it has benefitted the team but as a fan i feel sad not to watch srt attack the bowlers always which is what lara has done in his entire career. Playing his natural game always n giving joy to the viewers. I just wish Sachin plays like he used to taking attacks apart atleast once more before he retires. Pls publish....... A cricket fan's request. Even though d sachin part might be irrelevant. [[ No problem with such comments since you are only making a wish. In terms of No % the following are the leaders, from the low side. Lara 2.6% Gooch 2.8% Atherton 3.3% Sehwag 3.5% Morris 3.8% Gayle 4.3% Hassett 4.3% Kanhai 4.4% Ananth: ]]

  • kaushik on October 4, 2012, 18:23 GMT

    And regarding the 400, i too felt it was a selfish innings at dat point of time probably due to my lack of cricket knowledge then. And i apologise to everyone here for dat. And am a firm believer that a single batsman can never win u a test match. On rare occasions a bowler may win u a match singlehandedly but its never the case with batsman. But Mr.Ananth i do hav a question to raise. I see u keep sayin that lara's avg can be attributed to some extent to a very few not outs. While this's true i also think that the other great batsman hav higher not outs because once they're set they dont get out. However lookin at lara's no of not outs it seems to suggest no matter what score lara is batting on the bowler still can feel he can be removed. The huge exception's the monumental 400 not out ofcourse. [[ That is true and reflects the way he played. I only say that one of the reasons Lara's average is not higher, say at 55, is because of his very low % of not outs. At no stage would I justify or over-value the average. It was after all lara's choice. One of the recent comments says that Lara went to attack because he was running out of partners. I have at least seen three of his innings, all around 200, where he played similarly. That was again the need of the hour. Ananth: ]]

  • kaushik on October 4, 2012, 18:09 GMT

    Hello, Dis's a wonderfull analysis of a legend. I.ve been a SRT fan since mid nineties but started watchin cricket regularly only frm 2002. I.ve not watched any complete innings of lara( i hope all ppl here can forgive me for dat) but hav heard great things abt lara frm various articles n i.ve seen quite a few innings highlights of his. The thing i admired was his fierce followthrough of d bat esp wit his cuts n drives on off side. Plus i enjoy d fact that the most celebrated duo of sachin and lara are great friends n there's no jealously AT ALL..... Incredible!! [[ The 153* in Youtube. 21 mins www.youtube.com/watch?v=29KX_WW06wY 43 mins www.youtube.com/watch?v=klzoOgqFgdQ Ananth: ]]

  • Gautam Gavankar on October 4, 2012, 15:36 GMT

    Very Nice Piece... BCL undoubtedly the most talented craftsman when it comes to batting... Appreciate the comment that you would not bet on him if life os dependent on a batsman.. But that's the speciality. You could compare him with a student a has a booze round a day prior to the exam and still tops it.. I just wonder had he been as industrious as Tendulkar, Kallis or Dravid what would have been the outcome? Shall we say 99.94 had a challenger?? Truly.. a great cricketer and great article.. Thank You [[ Not really, Gautam. Over the past 135 years we have had a series of world class batsmen. Only one has averaged more than 61. And why are you saying that Lara was not industrious. Pl see the section on the average of top-5 innings. His Balls per Inns value of 441 is higher than the three batsmen you have referred to. I think 60 is almost the higher limit for any batsman, however good he is and whatever be the qualities we could bestow on a batsman. Maybe if Lara had 16 not out innings instead of 6, he would have averaged 55.3, that is probably a "what if" limit for Lara.. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on October 4, 2012, 14:57 GMT

    of the other Aus bowlers (including Warne) to keep his record "normal" (as opposed to low, given McGrath's pushed it there)?

    In the matches Warne played against Lara (6 outs), McGrath dismissed him 9 times - including 4 times for single digits (Warne once) and twice more under 30 (Warne once)

    ---- We can divide Lara vs Warne into "before 98" and "after 98" (we have ball by ball data for after 98)

    According the Davis' ball-by-ball piece, Lara averaged 74 against Warne from after 98. HUGE WIN for Lara.

    Before 98, Warne outted Lara 4 times in 23 innnings (17%). Only once for under 50 (scores, 132, 78, 65 and 9)

    ----

    I just don't see how Warne vs Lara, mano e' mano, can POSSIBLY come out in Warne's favor.

    He didn't get him out often, and when he did, it was never early and often after a significant score

    Lara was failing against McGrath but maintaining his standard record overall - so he must've been compensating against the other bowlers.

  • Waspsting on October 4, 2012, 14:40 GMT

    @Gerry - sorry for the misunderstanding.

    I'm basing my opinion of Lara getting the better of Warne purely in balls bowled by Shane Warne to Brian Lara - runs scored and dismissals (which we don't have full stats from, so i'm working on intuition)

    Your basing the counter on Lara's record against Aus team including Warne - is that correct?

    ---

    in 19 tests and 34 innings that Lara played against Warne included Aus, Warne dismissed him 6 times.

    Assuming a 4 man attack, we'd expect Warne to have dismissed him about 25% of the time (not adjusting for Warne being an exceptional bowler, in which case we'd expect it to be higher).

    The actual figure comes to 17.6%

    Lara's scores in these innings that he was out to Warne are 132, 78, 65, 45, 17 and 9.

    I'd say Lara came up on top, clearly.

    Further, I'd point out that if Lara's record vs Aus was about normal (as you note), and McGrath CLEARLY got the better of Lara - then it follows logically that Lara got the better of (cont)

  • Love Goel on October 4, 2012, 14:30 GMT

    @He fought valiantly, but to avoid whitewashes, he moved mountains, but for a series draw or no result at all. I never felt as sad for another cricketer, or as ecstatic

    You might try to look at Andy Flower. His performances in India (test 1515/1517) will certainly compare to Lara performances in Lanka.

    And if you are looking for heartbreak innings, watch his innings(both) vs South Africa in test 1562. I am sure even South Africa fans would have wanted Andy to save this match for Zimbabwe

  • srini on October 4, 2012, 14:29 GMT

    Anyhoo, back to the tribute. For a guy who didnt have cable for most of his school days and that stupid conditional access system in Chennai, I missed most of Lara's great innings but we had "thiruttu" cable for a few months and these few months coinciding with "that" innings (certain proof that God exists ;-) ). I still vividly remember that night. It was around 2 am and I was doing some math problems and dropped them off completely to watch what was the greatest innings I'd seen in my then young life. Yes, I am talking about CA Walsh's marathon that carried WI to a stunning victory with a little help from some guy called LARA. Thanks for the memories. If there are cricket and football nutters like me out there, I believe there is an analogy that can be seen. Pele & Garrincha were the 2 best players in Brazil in the 50s & 60s. Pele might be considered the greatest player ever but Garrincha was "the joy of the people". I can say with no uncertainty that Lara was surely that.

  • srini on October 4, 2012, 14:15 GMT

    There is nothing spurious in what I wanted to say. I had included Pollock in that filter for both and their avgs went up by a few runs (not much though). Point is as a whole against a pace attack both batsmen horribly failed. It doesn't matter whom got out against whom and none of the head to head stat. As a whole against strong pace bowling attacks both batsmen failed, so I just can't see how one is better than the other.

    You know whats a spurious stat. 1)SRT got out to GDM only 6 times but BCL got out to him 15 times. 2)SRT faced GDM only in 9 tests but BCL played 23 tests against him.

    Mentioning statement 1 alone is spurious and downright cheating to a casual fan but I did no such thing. BCL is my most favourite cricketer and believe me those numbers bring tears to my eyes.

  • Srikkandh on October 4, 2012, 13:50 GMT

    My pick of lara's best innings is not from his test ones, but his twin classics vs SA in world cups 1996 and 2003. I especially rate the 2003 one his best innings.

  • Jimmy on October 4, 2012, 13:10 GMT

    What made Lara special was his spectacular lows. He was like a character out of a Greek tragedy. Remember his last match? He looked set to end his career with style, but teammate M. Samuels shockingly ran him out and turned his back on him. I cannot think of another cricketer who had such staggering, bipolar-like highs and lows. But Windians love those lows. It was like Lara carried a huge weight on his shoulders, one man against the world, and you almost felt like everything was conspiring against him. To me, later in life, his eyes always looked like he was repressing anger/disappointment. Indeed, his most famous moments were always bittersweet or tinged with a poetic irony. He fought valiantly, but to avoid whitewashes, he moved mountains, but for a series draw or no result at all. There was something beautifully depressing about Lara. I never felt as sad for another cricketer, or as exstatic. When he made 400 we had parties in the streets. The previous matches? We were all suicidal

  • Waspsting on October 4, 2012, 13:07 GMT

    Balancing the hammer shots through off-side was more finessed play on the leg side (that his huge across movement gave him scope to indulge).

    The leg glance was probably my favorite to watch. Sheer artistry. and he could tuck the ball either side of square leg for 1 or 2 with great control.

    The slap through mid-wicket looked great, too was less controlled. often hit in the air.

    Part of Lara's beauty was based on the contrast principle. You'd have these smacking shots through mid-wicket and point as the staple, and suddenly you'd get this deft leg glance of late cut.

    Compare this to 'pokey' type players like Ranatunga or Mahanama who are always looking to 3rd man or fine leg. Just looks mundane.

    Or the out and out thrashers like Gayle, Gilchrist Sehwag. Not much 'touch' behind the wicket (Uppercuts aside).

    A combo of high back lift, fleet pre-delivery footwork, hammer shots and deftness gave Lara his overall, off-the-scale aesthetic value

    (just observing here - no point to make)

  • Waspsting on October 4, 2012, 12:58 GMT

    i would speculate that he did so because he realized he wasn't a very good judge of where his off-stump was - and made doubly sure to cover it.

    This is somewhat supported by the troubles he had to the tight line on off stump (esp. with McGrath), and also his tendancy to play defensively to balls well wide of off stump.

    Part of this might be that psychologically, he preferred getting bat on ball, but i suspect extra caution in covering the off stump line played a part.

    Why play a defensive shot when you can leave? there's no run to be had (aside through edges), and you run the unnecessary risk of nicking the ball and getting out.

    Also, Lara's defense was unusual. Most players will block to cover area or a bit squarer, Lara's block tended to go to point or even behind more.

    Again, Lara didn't get his front foot to the ball in cover-driving. Most people who don't tend to inside edge the ball back onto the stumps now and then. I never saw Lara do so. (con)

  • Syed on October 4, 2012, 12:50 GMT

    Great Article! I am impressed by the details you have brought forth in this article. I've always admired Brian Lara and SRT alongside Rahul Dravid as the premier batsmen of their generation.

    I totally understand the scope of this article and it surprises me when some people blame you for being biased against Sachin. I know that is not the case, and your article on Sachin would also be as great as this one. It is always tough to compare geniuses, so why waste time in doing that. Why not we just sit back and cherish the memories they have given us over these long years.

  • ruudraza on October 4, 2012, 12:48 GMT

    An in-form Lara was the most aestheticaly pleasing,most distructive and as reliable as any batsman in the world. He once played a 39 run innings against Sauth Africa and that was the best 40 minutes of cricket i ever watched. When he got out i was more dissappointed than i would be when india lost. I think Lara is the most loved batsman among non west indians for the sheer beauty of his batting as when you dont care about the result you can appreciate someone's craft alot more. can someone give the link for world cup analysis

  • Waspsting on October 4, 2012, 12:46 GMT

    @Srini - thanks for those stats, they're very revealing.

    Agree with Nitin - the presence of 3 100s gives Tendulkar a little edge (just a little one mind you). a hundred sets up an innings in a way that 50s don't - SRT did that a few times, BCL didn't

    re: Sarosh's interpretation of these stats, also agree largely. The suggestion is Lara struggled against the fast men more than SRT did, on account of the number of times he got out to them.

    but what you gain on the swings, you lose on the roundabouts. SRT doesn't seem to have coped with relatively "ordinary" bowlers as well as Lara did

    Switching threads here to looking at Lara's technique. It is a very peculiar technique, in many ways.

    His greatest strenght was to balls with width, and most players with that type of strenght tend to not get across much - thereby enabling them to play more balls in the area they like.

    Lara though, got as far across as anyone i've ever seen - thereby reducing the scope to attack in his best area (con)

  • Jimmy on October 4, 2012, 12:42 GMT

    I think batting with a poor team can have a very real negative effect. Even when Lara is on a roll, take his 221 vs Sri Lanka for example, batting with a weak team causes huge problems. After that match he said when he crossed 200 he made a concious decision to recklessly hit every ball and accumulate runs fast, because he was running out of batsmen on the other end. With solid batsmen on the other end that 221 would have ballooned into a score even bigger, but the Sri Lankans were knocking batsmen out for duck left, right and center. Five ducks, I believe, were taken in one of those WI innings.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on October 4, 2012, 11:42 GMT

    Ananth, through my Srini induced tears, I can see the need to put in my monthly reminder of the mega - innings rating exercise. I am going to take 2 days off from work for that (you may not publish this, based on your criteria, but that is OK). [[ Of course I will publish it. You are after all repeating a very valid request and one I have never forgotten. I have got almost everything ready. I am only wondering how to tackle the comments. You have seen what has happened in this article. The whole discussions will get side-tracked into what is not there rather than a discussion on what is there. I am still mad at the Mumbai journalists (circa 2001) who did not have the vision and broad-mindedness to appreciate the all-time great innings of 281 (5th) and 10 for 74 (2nd) and went completely off the tangent. It was an insult to these two gentlemen and even journalists I respect like Harsha did not give these classics the due respect. If it happens here maybe I will be forced to say good-bye. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on October 4, 2012, 11:29 GMT

    Ananth, the cryptic comment was that Steve Waugh will not feature in any World XI merely because he was ugly, whereas we all know that Lara and Tendulkar are attractive strokemakers. But there is a selection bias here right? Who looks beautiful while playing fast bowlers anyway? Ducking and weaving all the time?

    Waugh just lasted longer and fought it out. The other two did not, but made up for it in less demanding situations, and their "attractiveness quotient" hence remains high.

    Even Waugh will forget to name himself in a World XI. But If I made one, I would select him ahead of the other two. [[ There is no need to be defensive about players like Steve Waugh. He is one who you can entrust your life with. Maybe Miandad and Gavaskar are two other players. People also select players who they have loved watching and feel deserve place in the XI or XV. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on October 4, 2012, 11:23 GMT

    94-95 + 96-97 + 98-99 + 2005-2006. A total of 15 tests. Warne clocked 55 wickets @ 29.7. If you exclude 1998-99 then 53 @ 25.7, matching his career average. In these same 15 tests, Lara did 1388 runs @ 53.4, and if one excludes 1998-99 then 949 runs @ 43.1. So far, little difference.

    But I saw almost every match during 1994-2006 that involved Australia, and almost as much as John Buchanan must have, and while many of Lara’s runs came in big single innings (132/226) without impacting the series result, Warne struck important blows consistently (Warne did not play in 2001, weakest point of West Indies, when Lara scored 182; and 2003). Contd…

    Lara’s record against SL is very however unambiguously good – 10 consecutive innings with 5 centuries and only one score below 40, though a poor start seems to have weighed his average down to a mere 57.

    While Lara’s relatively lower numbers against Australia cannot be attributed to Warne, Warne seems to have done better of the two.

  • Jonathan Ellis on October 4, 2012, 11:23 GMT

    Indeed. Although, I rate Lara's 375 as a better innings than his 400. For several reasons:

    (1) When Lara came in, it was at a tough time - Windies were 15/2 after the first hour of play.

    (2) Not just the size of the innings but the scoring rate: 70 runs per hundred balls. The next fastest West Indies scorer - Jimmy Adams, never noted as a fast scorer - scored at only half the speed. Given that his 59 included 2 sixes, the rest must have been pretty turgid. Arthurton and Chanderpaul were even slower:

    (3) There never looked like being a chance that he would get out, until he was lucky to survive a potential hit-wicket with a score of over 350 already. By contrast, in his innings of 400, he was fortunate to survive early on: a couple of appeals for caught-behind and LBW could easily have been given while he had a single-figure score. [[ I agree. In my updated Innings Rating tables the 375 is way above 400. That not even incorporating any non-match related factors and the lives you have mentioned. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on October 4, 2012, 11:22 GMT

    Waspsting – I merely mentioned that Lara cannot be called a great player of spin in the context of Warne, since his Aus record (not his team’s record) is not inspirational. You are mistakenly assuming that WI loss to Aus biased me, and then providing a further SL example to justify a stand I am not even taking. I must however admit that there is an attributability limitation in the case of Aus, since they had a multi pronged attack, whereas SL had only one really great strike bowler.

    I think what may be giving a favourable impression of Lara against Warne is that (a) Warne was collared in 1992-93 in the Sydney Test - nothing wrong with this except that I thought Warne was not a very consistent bowler at this stage compared to what he became (b) Lara did brilliantly in 1998-99. But note that Warne was battling a problem shoulder (I think), though Lara would have fought past a full strength Warne too, in the form that he was.

    In common series, excluding 92-93, we have (contd…)

  • Harsh on October 4, 2012, 10:11 GMT

    Watching Lara bat was a sheer delight. Our generation has been fortunate to witness his brilliance. He possessed a certain flamboyance which is typical of Caribbean batting. I cannot think of a better batsman to carry the flame set alight by his predecessors like Richards, Haynes, Greenidge and Lloyd. There's only so much that stats can tell, the rest is of course qualitative. Those who've seen Lara bat can vouch for his unparalleled genius any day.

  • Sarosh on October 4, 2012, 10:10 GMT

    @srini, The only concrete thing the links you posted show are that against Donald,Wasim and Waqar (the genuine quicks) : SRT – 7 times out of 18 matches.. And BCL got out to them 11 times in 17 matches. Not great- but then the 3 were great bowlers. All the other parts of the stats are very nebulous. Nothing much can be made from the average thus obtained by taking matches "including" the above bowlers. If you see Hansie Cronje can claim to be the most successful bowler against SRT. (5 times in 10 matches). So, the average in matches “including” Donald becomes even more meaningless if Cronje ended up taking SRTs wicket.

    Even, the ball-by-ball data available for some since 2000 requires a new interpretation. The usual way is to calculate an "average" by the number of runs scored divided by the times the bowler got the batsman out. Generally ignoring the balls faced. So,this hardly takes into account match context and in general favours the more aggressive batsmen. In any case, this data is not available for the entire careers of most modern batsmen.

    Even if we take Richards in matches "including" some top fast bowlers the average doesn't look too good.So, subjective judgement and what we actually saw will always play a part.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on October 4, 2012, 9:51 GMT

    Srini - you have brought tears into my eyes (the twin 32s). However you have not included McGrath + Gillespie - which was the peak strength Aussie pace attack.

    If you did the same filter against Sri Lanka, you will get a very different picture.

    Waugh rectified his records against West Indies, but played much better than them v/s Pak and SA. Even in this wholly numerical blog, only appearances matter. [[ That cryptic last sentence probably requires an explanation. Ananth: ]]

  • Vivek Shantharam on October 4, 2012, 8:47 GMT

    400 was not an ordinary act like scoring a 50. The rate at which it was scored was awesome. 86*, 313* and 400*. Hardly there have been matches where 226 was scored in a single day. after being 0-7 down, even a draw would have been as good as a win. If thats an act of selfishness, what justification would be given for many landmark innings which has cost the team wins, especially in ODIs.

  • Vivek Shantharam on October 4, 2012, 8:33 GMT

    I am seriously sick of seeing Indian fans bringing Sachin to every discussion. This is the trend I have seen everywhere. [[ Edited. My apologies since very valid points made but will only bring in more comments and take the thread off-track, which it already is. Ananth: ]]

  • Nitin Gautam on October 4, 2012, 8:07 GMT

    @Srini I dunno why this Lara's weakness against extreme pace is repeated ad nauseum Based on the facts I completely agree with you..all the comfort of Haq's against fast bowlers never rewarded him with rich dividends unlike S.Waugh who, for all his body blows & discomfort, made runs. Here SRT & lara are exactly same against top notch fast bowlers (which I agree on any wholesome trivia).However Lara is accused,in my humble opinion,because of ugliness he showed while facing them, afterall Lara is praised on the aesthetics & poetry he brought to game not on stats & while facing 2Ws & donald he fell to greater falls from his such lofty standards, it became a talking point for always. Also he does not have any worthwhile score (no classy 100s not that it matters most but like 132 at perth..a 100 would have helped him a lot) [[ Your next comment is not published since it is wholly irrelevant to the topic. Pl keep it for a future analysis. Ananth: ]]

  • Madhav on October 4, 2012, 7:09 GMT

    Ananth. Great blog to admire a genius!!

    For me BCL & SRT are the two genius of the modern day cricket. Both are great in their own ways.

    BCL was always battling around normal players trying hard for his country.

    True SRT has better cricketers around him, but just imagine the kind of pressue people in stadium, watching on TV sets, thinking of him batting have on him - thats equally genius to keep their expectations upto mark most of the times.

    Best part about Lara is care damn - talk bat.

    Once again, I admire your article for talking about the obvious things of this great little left handed genius!

    Madhav

  • Sanj on October 4, 2012, 6:57 GMT

    Dear Ananth,

    Has it occurred to you : 1)That a bunch of us cricket fans hang out the same café? [[ I doubt very much. I have in front of me 3/4 comments on the 400 under different names but almost identical word usage. Frankjly it does not matter a tinker's damn what name you write under. If this is your real name, my apologies to the other names I mentioned !!! Ananth: ]] 2)That perhaps “Waspsting” ‘ “love_goel,” “Gerry_the_merry”, “Tman” etc may not be the names that the parents of these fine gentlemen gave them? [[ Many of these readers have been with the blog for a fair bit of times and I communicate with them directly. So I know whose name is a nom-de-plume and whose is real. Ananth: ]] 3)That I wasn’t actually “specifically bringing down the 400”? Or the 375, 380 or whatever for that matter . If you read again I am saying – “Saw the chance for record –went for it”. Fine. 4)That I am not out to “change” your bias by pointing out for eg. the “weak team” and “dead rubber” items . By going on about Lara in “weak team” backed by all manner and permutations and combinations of stats – what are you attempting to show? Like I said – you and the other fans want to glorify the burning deck inn. AND add brownie points by saying Lara played in weak team !! The eg. Of Chanderpaul who’s avg zooms to 66 from 45 post Lara amply illustrates this point( unless , of course, now we make a claim for WI being stronger without Lara) Basically -Have cake, eat it too kind of scenario. Also, as for the dead rubbers- you effectively excluded them in the world cup analysis. [[ That was a ODI analysis. How can you ever compare these two. I have never ever discounted a Test innings because it was in a dead rubber because I firmly believe that there is no dead-rubber in Tests. I have never incorporated this measure in all my innings/bowling spell analyses. Ananth: ]] So, I am not trying to change your or anyone else’s personal bias. These are largely based on emotion and any amount of argument is futile – I am merely pointing out that this bias is ALSO permeating through to your choice and use of stats. Thanks.

  • srini on October 4, 2012, 6:51 GMT

    This is SRT's record in matches involving AADonald & 2Ws: http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/player/35320.html?class=1;filter=advanced;orderby=default;player_involve=1775;player_involve=1935;player_involve=2011;template=results;type=batting

    This BCL with the same criteria: http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/player/52337.html?class=1;filter=advanced;orderby=default;player_involve=1775;player_involve=1935;player_involve=2011;template=results;type=batting

    I do not know how one player is better off or worse than the other. So what if BCL was uncomfortable and SRT extremely comfortable against extreme pace? Like gerry or boll mentioned in some of the earlier blogs Inzy looks extremely comfortable playing extreme pace but his records sux (against the said pace) whilst SRwaugh looked horrible against extreme pace but his record is excellent. I dunno why this Lara's weakness against extreme pace is repeated ad nauseum.

  • Farrukh Hanif Awan on October 4, 2012, 6:24 GMT

    Wow. You have made so many enemies by posting this article Anand. People this is a statistical team. Simple. If you don't like it, do your own analysis. If you can't do your own analysis then live in peace with what you have been given. Why does it always have to be SRT vs BCL? Lara was a different player all together. Not your usual player by any means. The flair and magic was his cornerstone. Tendulkar on the other hand was/is a technical powerhouse. A Juggernaut and his record speaks for himself. These two played arguably the best spinners in the world ever in the form of Murli and Warne but yet came out on tops on most of the occasions. Show me a batsman who has conquered them both?

  • charith on October 4, 2012, 6:23 GMT

    as always nice work Ananth. As cricket lovers we always love to debate lara vs sachin and warne vs murally. In my view i would always prefer to watch Lara and Warne play but if i had my life depend on it i would always go for Sachin and Murally. To me lara and warne has a lot more charisma to their way of playing than Sachin and Murally but stats wise Sachin And Murally are a little bit ahead of Lara and Warne. Some readers have suggested that Lara did not play fast bowlers well but as a lankan who watched him bat in sri lanka in 2001 i can safely say that he played Vaas superbly, (Vaas may not be the fastest of bowlers but he boweled wonderfully well during that series) [[ In that specific series Vaas was the more effective one. Ananth: ]]

  • Sanj on October 4, 2012, 5:09 GMT

    4)Also , the 400,226 etc WERE dead rubbers . There is no denying this. The definition of a dead rubber is when the result of the series is already in the bag. Again, it is ok IF there are no double standards. For eg. A while back there was an analysis on this blog about world cup performances which effectively excluded dead rubbers. Some ppl came out with how SRTs 98 was meaningless ! Ha – trying telling that to Indian and Pak fans.

    As mentioned Lara very fine player and super artist. But plenty subtle double standards to pump him up more than a certain level at work here. [[ Why post under different names: Sanj, Sanjeev, AD (most posts), Rohinton. Be open and post under your name. You are a valued reader and will get the respect from me always. On the comment: There is no dead rubber. If so, Dravid's monumental 148 and Kohli's 100 count for nothing. You have also made previous posts specifically pulling down the 400. Really not necessary. Probably it is time you get off it. If you think I am biased, I accept. You are not going to change me and many others who are readers here. Ananth: ]]

  • Sanj on October 4, 2012, 5:07 GMT

    3) Poor Lara played in a weak team – Essentially implying that had he played in a strong team , for eg “Like Richards” his stats would have been better. Nonsense. It may be argued that had Richards played in a weak team he would have to knuckle down instead of swaggering out there chewing gum and throwing his bat around. For eg. Chanderpaul averages 66 after Lara retired as compared to his prior 45.

    4)Connected to this is the glorification of burning deck innings such as the 153. The definition of a great inn is for the large part based on how OTHER batsmen performed (completely ignoring the quality of these batsmen)…If a few other batsmen had contributed with 50s in the inn. Leading to a routine run chase, then no one would have noticed the inn. So,we want the glorification of these lone hand inn PLUS doubling it with the fact that Lara played in poor team (ignoring the fact that a large part of his glory was being the star in a bad team)…This is a subtle kind of “double counting”

  • Sanj on October 4, 2012, 5:06 GMT

    No probs with the Lara worship at all. My issues are with the double standards. For eg. there is no prob with the 400 at all. If Lara thought the record was within reach ,it was fine he went for it.ALL batsmen would (barring Aus)- because there is NO guarantee of a team win.Only Aus,with their bowling fire power and general attitude - have almost made it "cool" for their batsmen NOT to go for a record! (SA in recent times to a lesser extent).- Almost to rub it in that “see ,we don’t care for individual records”. Yeah right. Cricket more than most team games permits the opportunity for individual glory within a team context.

    The double standards are essentially: 1)Trying to justify "why" Lara went for the record - other than the simple fact that the opportunity was available. Using various scorelines and WI "pride" etc rings hollow. Shouldn't WI have been more proud with a win? So- Lara saw the record in his sights and went for it. Good enough for me. End of Story. [[ Amusing comment. Where are the double standards you keep mentioning. Almost all batsmen go for records and milestones. You yourself say, Australians excluded. So where are the double standards applied. If you are not a West indian, obviously you are not, you should not say WI pride being hollow. You are not qualified to say that. When Tendulkar crossed 200, the whole nation, and the world, rejoiced. That is the way it should be. No one should dilute the 400, nor the 200. Ananth: ]]

  • Anil Maskeri on October 4, 2012, 5:01 GMT

    Dear Anantha, It was indeed a wonderful analysis of the great Brian Lara. I totally agree with you that Lara's 153 was the best ever test innings. I would Certainly defend his 400. My reasons are as follows 1) West Indies feared a prospect of a whitewash. 2) He knew what had happen in Sri Lanka, Despite Lara scoring so heavily, West Indies still lost, a complete whitewash. 3) Lara was not sure what score would ensure that the West Indies would not loose and hence he carried as long as possible till the prospect of England winning was out of the equation.

    Only an innings of this nature and stature saved West Indies from being white washed that too in the Caribbean.

  • Nitin Gautam on October 4, 2012, 4:58 GMT

    @Wapsting @Nitin - not sure what your point is here

    I meant what you just proved. lara's dismal record against the top express pacers of his era. I didnt know the records but matches that I have seen (which are very few) & clippings of Lara & those bowlers (2 Ws, Donald, shoib etc), these were the common observation. one particular incident of Waqar firing in a fast lethal inswinging yorker (perhaps in 97-98 series) & lara prodding, struggling & finally falling on all fours to save his toe was a lasting memory & it was as ugly as SRT's falling on Asif probably 10 years later. However If i have to make an outrageous comparison, Lara was a batting equivalent of Great wasim..most pleasing to the eye bowler,capable of churning miracles every bowl & a complete maverick yet will hv to live with malaise of never being no.1 in his career & never a 1st choice of an all time XI. These 2 are the best bowler & batsman to watch yet not an all time world XI material for most.(though I wud hv wasim)

  • tashfeen on October 4, 2012, 4:38 GMT

    Thanks for responding, Ananth. May I suggest you pen an article comparing BLC and SRT's careers, once SRT has retired? That would lay to rest many debates once and for all.

  • Danny on October 3, 2012, 22:51 GMT

    Excellent analysis which made reading statistics riveting. One of the significant things to bear in mind - Lara batted for a large part of his career with a weak and inconsistent side. Richards had a stronger team around him. We can speculate what would have been the case if the WI team during the second half of Lara's career were stronger. I will end by saying that I was entertained by a batting genius, and he was gone too early.

  • Jimmy on October 3, 2012, 22:06 GMT

    Lara's bad form coincided with his eye condition/treatment. His eyes were bloodshot, itchy and required constant drops. The horrendous spell in SA coincided with some blood disease or problem he had, when he was promptly hospitalized. I think he even fainted on pitch if I recall.

  • Alex on October 3, 2012, 21:26 GMT

    Pawan: Great observation. That is the only blot on Lara's brilliant post-2000 test record. [[ Yes, it might also be true that, if he had gone to England in 2007 Lara might not have had a 75 average series but would certainly have matched his career average. And with Chanderpaul in such good form,. West indies might have managed to save a Test. Ananth: ]] Lara was arguably the world's best ODI batsman over 1993-98. After a poor run in tests over 1996-98, he probably made a conscious decision to give ODI a much lower priority, as records certainly indicate.

  • aneesh on October 3, 2012, 21:16 GMT

    fantastic article... its just amazing how much thought and detail you put into each of your analysis... lara and tendulkar are the two best batsmen of their generation... very hard to pick one of the two and if i wasnt an Indian, i might have picked lara over tendulkar... great analysis nevertheless and eagerly waiting for your next... maybe a bowler this time??

  • Jimmy on October 3, 2012, 20:58 GMT

    Oh yes, I forgot to mention the great Rahul Dravid, who is another batsman who ranks Lara as his favourite and number 1. It seems all Indian batsmen of a certain era look up to Lara.

  • Jimmy on October 3, 2012, 20:56 GMT

    The thing about Lara was that he was a cricketer's cricketer. Other batsmen loved him. Sangakkara, Sehwag and Dohni adore Lara for his style and have stated their adulations in interviews. Chris Gayle cites Lara as an inspiration for his own desire to entertain. And everywhere you go, you find batsmen and bowlers who rate him the best. Even McGrath, in 2006, retracted his "Sachin is the best" comment and switched to Lara. Lara seemed to be the cricketer other batsmen adore.. [[ And, after retirement, Lara seems to have succeeded in avoiding unnecessary and frivolous statements.He seems to have stayed below the radar. Ananth: ]]

  • Jimmy on October 3, 2012, 20:49 GMT

    Any West Indian will tell you Lara should have batted for the 400 and that it was in no way selfish. No West Indian cared about that game going to a draw. The series was done, half a day of that 400 innings was rained out. When Lara crossed 200, the same thing was on every West Indian's mind. We wanted a West Indian to reclaim the World Record, and he did, and that was worth more - and was far more enduring - than any series victory. Non-West Indians don't understand how much it meant to us.

  • Ram on October 3, 2012, 20:22 GMT

    Lara, my most fav player across all ages. I am at a loss of words to praise this article. I watched 153 ball by ball too, and was so tense that I had to use the toilet 10-15 times during the course of that classic innings!

    Lara was perhaps the only (modern) batsman who had a defensive and attacking stroke to every ball he faced, and he could take the decision late. This made Lara one of the most aggressive and attacking batsmen of all times, with an innate ability to score at will regardless of the conditions.

  • Chaitanya R Kulhalli on October 3, 2012, 19:31 GMT

    Ananth I know this is totally irrelevant but could not help post it. SRT and BCL played most of their cricket in 90's, at a time when both the teams were on the decline. There were not many players in either teams who performed consistently. Invariably, if SRT or BCL failed to perform, the teams would end up losing. And twisted as it may seem, this actually accentuated their greatness. I am not saying that they are not great, they are and their records speak for themselves. All I am trying to say here is if there were a few good players in either teams, maybe, their importance in the team would not have been so profound. Look at the performance of Indian team in this millennium, even though Tendulkar is an integral and important part of the team, the fortunes of team do not depend solely on his performance. I just feel that if there were better performers in the team, I don't think they would have achieved the status of demigod. [[ Lara's support-factor kept on decreasing while SRT's increased substantially from 1995 onwards. Ananth: ]]

  • Victoria Baptiste on October 3, 2012, 18:43 GMT

    Ananth, facts substantiated by figures cannot be disputed. A master piece from you once again. You are so correct. I usually say that Brian Lara was to batting as Mohammed Ali was to boxing - no comparison!

  • Som on October 3, 2012, 17:38 GMT

    Am sorry Ananth that my response came out that way. As I have already mentioned a few times, no one gave me as much joy as Lara and Akram, closely followed by Viv and Kapil. Like someone mentioned about Shakib and the Trinidad pride, I strongly feel that what Kapil did to India's consciousness of cricket, has not been matched by anyone including SRT and he is my greatest cricketing hero. But when it comes to numbers, as you know more than anyone, its a cold world out there.

    The question whether Lara should have batted till 400 after he reached 300 may seem trivial but the question is was a declaration anywhere around (370-586) sufficient? Matches have been won with much lesser first innings scores, and 370 is the absolute average. I presume there might be a fair amount of clustering around the 400 mark. And as you will understand the further away you go from 550, you are being absolutely risk averse to the extent severely hurting any chances of playing for a Win. Thanks again.

  • tashfeen on October 3, 2012, 17:31 GMT

    Ananth, I was one of the people who had requested an article on BLC. Imagine my joy when I came across this page. However, the barrage of off-topic reader comments has left me reeling. Why does SRT (an undisputed great in his own right) have to be dragged into every single conversation about BLC? I would have BLC, Gilly and the Don in my personal all time XI too, but as you have pointed out, it's a personal preference. Can't see why anybody would argue about that too! Beats me. [[ And, Tash, that too after I have made sure that there is not a single direct comparison between BCL and SRT in the article. This is an unfortunate curse. Ananth: ]]

  • shrikanthk on October 3, 2012, 16:47 GMT

    when you have so little to celebrate, a world record is an accomplishment. I suppose that is why Bangladeshi fans are so vocal about their stars like Shakib (although I do not presume to speak for them) Fact of life. In a society of achievers with a checkered history, a merely excellent sportsman is only one among a constellation of stars. When I think of Britain, I think of Adam Smith, Newton, Clive, Churchill, Grace, Hume, Ricardo, Keynes, Thatcher, Hobbs, Hitchcock, Dickens, Wodehouse and Lennon. [[ Paul McCartney Scottish ??? David Lean JMW Turner/Constable Steven Redgrave Ananth: ]] No wonder even a star cricketer like KP doesn't hog people's imagination. People don't get carried away too easily. Because they've been there, done that, seen and heard it all. Whereas in a young country like B'desh lacking achievers and a long distinguished history, Shakib Hasan is a folk hero!

  • G. Persad on October 3, 2012, 12:56 GMT

    Cricket is for watching. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Lara's greatness was the beautiful and orthodox way he batted. Lara scoring a century once a year was something to enjoy and discuss. It has been a pleasure to have seen him bat. Ther's no need to compare him with any other. [[ Comparisons will be made and correctly and justifiably. At no stage would I say that Lara was the second best Test batsmen ever. The numbers do not support that. But he would be the second name in my list, that is certain. Ananth: ]] Just be thankful you have had the pleasure to have seen him bat. G. Persad.

  • Boll on October 3, 2012, 12:54 GMT

    Anyway, back to the Prince of Trinidad. I know some people have mentioned his `inconsistency`, and his failings, his less than great records in some countries. However, on the basis of many non-statistical parameters, (quite apart from his extraordinary statistical record) Lara must be very close to the top.

    1. The `If I could have seen one innings live it would`ve been that one` measure.

    2. The `If I could have played one innings it would`ve been that one` measure.

    3. The `I want (insert your team) to win and (insert opposing player of choice) to score a century` measure. [[ Sacrilege it might be, but he was the only one who might want followers to change [insert your team] to [West Indies]. Okay I might add Richards to this. Ananth: ]] 4. The `If I could bat like one man` measure.

    That Lara ranks so highly here, says much about his contribution to the game - he brought great joy to so many true fans of the game, and I`m sure encouraged many more to take an interest in it.

    A few people have averaged more, people have scored more runs, been more difficult to dismiss, been more consistent. Very very few have made a day`s cricket as memorable.

  • Waspsting on October 3, 2012, 12:48 GMT

    "ball-by-ball data is available only in the proprietary realm of organizations like Cricinfo. They will not make it available even to me. And dismisaals mean really nothing. Hayden loses his wicket to Gripper at 380. What can you make of it. What is important is how many balls and how many runs."

    The data from the article I referenced seemed be using ball-by-ball data - i was wondering where the author, Charlie Davis got hold of that info from. [[ Charlie Davis might have an arrangement with ACB and others. Anyhow I do not have access and probably may not be in a position to extract and use the same if someone sent me a ton of SQL or Oracle database. Ananth: ]] As for dismissals, I think your oversimplifying things.

    Gripper dismisses Hayden for 380 might mean nothing, but if Gripper were to dismiss Hayden 5 times in 5 matches (regardless of how much Hayden was scoring) - you'd have to wonder why Gripper and not x, y, z.

    Even the players sometimes get delusional about things like this. According to Sangakarra, Lara just shrugged off his troubles with McGrath as if there was no problem.

    http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/375538.html

  • Som on October 3, 2012, 12:36 GMT

    Let's examine if Lara was going way off the mark when he scored 400*, in terms of historical data. Historical Average runs in first innings when batting first when matches were won (across all teams) - 371 @ 3.02, which comes to 4.09 sessions For West Indies this number is - 377 @ 3.09, 4.07 sessions Average in the 10 yrs preceding the match in which Lara scored 400* - 384 (325 for WI) Highest runs made in first innings of the match which resulted in a loss for the team batting first - 586 (historical highest ever) The same data for WI is - 526 Highest runs scored by WI in first innings of a test which they won - 687 Now let's see how off Lara's assessment was for that match. If he was considering the absolute worst case and fearing defeat, he could have declared for 586. If he had absolutely no faith in his bowlers he could have declared for 687. Did I enjoy when he reclaimed his position with the 400? Absolutely. But the team did not gain anything and lost precious time. [[ Som Quite disappointed with the type of analysis. I know you did not want to put down Lara deliberately. But why split hairs in such a fine fashion at this point in time, 8 years afterwards. Do you mean to say that Lara should have worked out that 586 was not enough, 751 was too much and declared at some score in between when his own score was. say 363 not out. Extremely far-fetched. I agree that all the following were wins by innings and 150+ runs. Why did Alexander allow Sobers to reach 365. He could have declared when Sobers crossed 300. Why did Waugh allow Hayden to reach reach 380. He could have declared when the team total crossed 600. Why did Jayawardene play until 375. They did not need those extra runs. Hammond could have declared when England were 600 for 5. But he desperately wanted to wrest the record from Bradman, the old foe. In each case the record or the attempt was important. You do not question these because the teams won. But they were strong bowling sides. Where was West Indies in 2004. I think you should read some of the comments from West indians / Trinidadians. There was national pride at stake. Some wonderful feelings have been expressed on these lines. Records/landmarks are important to the individuasl and the countries. It was important for Kumble to capture the 10th wicket. Srinath deliberately avoided taking the 10th wicket. However great credit to the Pakistan. They had already lost the match. Saqlain could have holed out to Srinath. He did not do that. Olonga deliberately gave his wicket away to Vaas in a similar situation. Frankly, Som, if I had done the type of analysis you have done, the readers would have torn me to shreds and I would have deserved that. If a declaration is delayed to allow a player to reach a 100, that is wrong. But 300/400? Anyhow I have spent hundreds of words in the articles on this. Whatever be your response I will not say anything more. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on October 3, 2012, 12:33 GMT

    "...the qus asked about BCL's permanences against top notch pacers..waqar & dinald probably the quickest at tht time proved it in plent"

    @Nitin - not sure what your point is here

    against Waqar, in 7 matches Lara averages 30.77, 3 dismissals against Donald, in 11 matches, he averages 35.5, 6 dismissals.

    Not one 100 in all of those matches.

    BTW, my opinion of Lara's frailties against fast bowling is based on watching him - and the stats support it (as opposed to the other way round).

    He seemed to me to have trouble getting the bat down to meet the fast ball (also demo'd against Shoaib and Lee - even when he scored runs against Lee). Understandable given his backlift, but no less eye catching

    He seemed to be all a panic when the ball was short. And unlike say S. Waugh, it effected how he played other balls, and also got him out not un-regularly. He hopped about, took his eyes of the ball, jerkily took evasive action (and quite often got hit)

    Put it this way... (cont)

  • Boll on October 3, 2012, 12:31 GMT

    A title (lead photo) and article worthy of the great man. Come on BCL, send us a post - it would make Ananth`s day/week/year.

    I must admit that I balked a little at Harris Shahzad`s claim that he`s been the `greatest left-hander` though - there have been some bloody good ones. Imagine this for a top 7;

    M.Hayden A.Flower G.Pollock B.Lara G.Sobers A.Border A.Gilchrist [[ I would place Lara as a first amongst equals amongst left-handers. Sobers and Pollock being the other equals. Tough to pin-point one of these three. Ananth: ]] not to mention Sanga, Harvey, Lloyd, Morris, Gower... Anwar, Kalli?

    OK, then we`ll have Davidson and Wasim at 8 and 9.

    Bishen Bedi at 11. No.10 anyone? Maybe Zaheer?

  • Pavan Kumar on October 3, 2012, 12:15 GMT

    Lara's performances in England 1. In 1995 scored 3 100's (145,152,179) and 3 50's and averaged more than 70 2. In 2000 scored 1 100(112) and 1 50 and averaged around 27 3. In 2004 he scored 2 50's and averaged 33

    Lara's performance in Australia 1. In 1992/93 scored 1 100 (277)and 3 50's and averaged more than 58 2. In 1996/97 scored 1 100 (132)and 1 50 and averaged about 33 3. In 2000/01 scored 1 100 (182)and averaged about 32 4. In 2005/06 scored 1 100 (226)and averaged around 48

    Against both these opponents Lara averaged considerably less after his initial tour overseas. But his performances against the same opponents at home have been of the highest standard.

    Any observations on why there has been a huge variation in his performance home and abroad? [[ Barring SRT/Dravid this is the trend with most batsmen. Ananth: ]]

  • Pavan Kumar on October 3, 2012, 12:02 GMT

    Excellent article as always Ananth. The concept of form dip sounds interesting. Surprised to see that both Lara and Sachin considered two of the greatest batsmen in the modern era having so many form dips as top batsmen very rarely fail to reach double digits in more than 4 consecutive innings.Lara had two form dips against Australia during 96/97 series just before his innings of 78 in Adelaide followed by his 132 . His next form occurred immediately after the Australian tour of 2005/06 in NZ when he got out for 5,0,1,1.

    Ananth, How do we analyse a batsman using form dips as a measure? [[ I have only included the same and you are the first reader to comment on that. Lara's three dips are 2, 1, 2, 2, 9 (taken as 2) and 5, 0, 1, 1. SRT's form dips are 0, 0, 8, 0 and 2, 8, 1, 8, 2, 5 (taken as 3). We have to think our way through this. It is an eye-opener in some ways. Currently I have done this only in the One player analysis program. So I do not have the data available for all. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on October 3, 2012, 11:54 GMT

    a) There were times when the pressure was equally on, and he failed (0-5 in SA vs 2-2 against Aus)

    b) There were times when the personal challenge was equally on, and he failed (0-3 in SL vs 0-3 in Pak, or 0-5 in SA)

    Lara averaged 31 in SA 98/99 vs Donald & Pollock, pressure on given it was the first WI tour of SA - and the personal challenge of facing a great fast bowling line up.

    Lara averaged 22 in Pak 97/98, despite the personal challenge of facing the great fast attack led by Wasim and Waqar (should add the wickets were absolutely flat that tour, the Pak batsman scored runs at will)

    Where's the correlation between challenge/pressure and Lara performing here? He failed at such times as often as he succeeded.

    What do you think? [[ If he succeeded more often he would have ended with a 60+ average. With all the so called failures alternating with successes, and plagued by 6 nos (the lowest of the top-100 batsmen) he still averaged 52+. You have not included amongst failures the disastrous New Zealand tour. And you have not included any England series amongst the successes. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on October 3, 2012, 11:44 GMT

    @Nitin -

    (@wapsting "Against that, you have 2-2 with Aus (one of the greatest series performances by a single batsman) and 0-3 in SL" how does that qualify to be in support of the ans to the qus asked about BCL's permanences against top notch pacers..waqar & dinald probably the quickest at tht time proved it in plenty..)-

    was a reply to - "the artist often only came out of his shell when the chips were down or the odds were rediculous. He loved personal challenges and pushing himself. He got better when faced with the impossible. Stats don't reflect this aspect of him"

    The comment indicates that Lara scored well when pressure was on, and there was something personal to prove. (performances against top pace wasn't the point, you've brought that up)

    My reply disputes this understanding. His top performances seem to me to show no relationship to the pressure being on or something personal to prove. The examples i gave were his best performances - and i've indicated that - (cont)

  • Typos on October 3, 2012, 11:44 GMT

    I notice a lot of non Windians commenting which proves your point about his appeal outside his native country. As a Trinidadian myself, I have seen a number of his knocks live....there was a regional match in which he put on apprx 180 with last man Rajendra Dhnaraj who scored single figures in the partnership. To understand what the 400 meant to a proud nation (region) that had lived though slavery and indentureship is to understand why it was an important innings, even if you think it was selfish. Bolt means the same thing now as does Naipaul and Walcott our nobel prize winners for Literature....when you have so little to celebrate, a world record is an accomplishment. I suppose that is why Bangladeshi fans are so vocal about their stars like Shakib (although I do not presume to speak for them). Well done Anath and thanks, looking forward to SRT and Kallis and Mahela some day. [[ Lovely insertion of Bolt, Naipaul and Walcott into the discussion. Wonderful comment bringing into focus the West Indian/Trinidadian pride. I think some of the detractors of the 400 should read this. The pride and recognition that Lara brought to West Indies/Trinidad. Ananth: ]]

  • Chaitanya R Kulhalli on October 3, 2012, 11:36 GMT

    Excellent analysis of a fantastic player. The time he had to play shots with the bat lift he had was amazing. He decimation of Murlitharan in 2001 was absolutely brilliant and so was his performance in 1998-99 against Australia. But his 100 against South Africa in the 1996 quarterfinals was an absolute classic in every sense and perhaps laid the foundation for South Africans to become the chokers that they are. But like SRT he could never become a successful captain, both the greats let down by the very team they led. I am pretty sure that his tally of runs would have been higher if he had players worth their salt to rally around him while he mesmerized everyone with his sheer genius.

  • Afzaal Khan on October 3, 2012, 11:12 GMT

    Lara asked upon his retirement, Did I entertained"? You surely did sir and cricket is poor without you. An amazing talent for me the best batsman after viv.

  • Ananth on October 3, 2012, 10:50 GMT

    I am afraid I have to get on my bandwagon once more. Information to new readers and reminder to existing ones. Your comment has every possibility of NOT getting published if 1. You insult or speak disparagingly of me, other readers, countries and players. All of us deserve (and demand) respect. 2. Your comment is way off the topic and provides no insight at all. 3. You belabour a point again and again. 4. Your comment sends the message "Xyz is the greatest player. If any of you disagree, you are a moron or idiot or a traitor or something like that". So do not get upset if your comment is not published. You have crossed the clearly demarcated line. This is a blogspace, perhaps unique within and without Cricinfo, which respects the readers a lot. For the other blogs/articles, the writers write, post and move off, not looking back. Your comments will not be read, replied to or rejected. Here I read every comment and reply to well over half of these. Because of this, your comments have to meet the criteria set. Criticise by all means, find fault in any of my work, question my conclusions, but do not cross the line. The perfect examples I can give all readers are Nitin Gautam & Waspsting. We do not see eye to eye often. But they never cross the line set and until now not one of their comments has been rejected. Thanks a lot. Ananth

  • srini on October 3, 2012, 10:23 GMT

    I have just one thing to add to 400*. Not many know that half the first day was rained off and WI inns lasted just 51 overs. WI scored 751 in 202 overs, which amounts to slightly less than 7 sessions of a test. I remember seeing a lot of scorecards where teams declare their inns in the 1st session of the 3rd day (1 test in the 89 ashes, sydney 2004 etc). Also, people automatically assume that if WI had declared 30 overs earlier ENG would have still been bowled out for 285 & would be 400/5 in the 2nd innings. What if ENG were to make 500 odd or 150 odd & bat out the rest of the match a la Hanif? It's just pure speculation. I seriously doubt if any other captain would have declared given the pre-match situation. Team down 0-3, top batsman batting on 320* who the hell would declare. If anything was selfish it was SL's 952 and not Lara's 400* [[ People forget that Lara's scoring rate for this innings was 68.7, which works out to more than 4 RpO. Ananth: ]]

  • Nitin Gautam on October 3, 2012, 9:57 GMT

    "Unacceptable in certain group of readers , I accept. Then you should be ready to accept my similar riposte on ANY selection, I repeat any selection, other than Bradman."

    I agree completely. Selecting anyone is purely personal point of view & does not necessarily mean it will be universally accepted. In my all comments questioning Lara in your team I have maintained that this is a personal choice of yours & my doubt was my opinion. That's all. Likewise you or anyone can question anyone's selection of players cos those selections are always biased. Disagreement in opinions is what makes this blogspace such a hit . I m sure you would not like if ppl just write prose & praise everything you do. Lastly I dont question you selection, I just gave my opinion

  • Harris Shahzad on October 3, 2012, 9:50 GMT

    Brilliant article and very detailed. Found out lots of interesting stats and facts about the greatest left hander.

    However, if you find people objecting to you being biased towards Lara and not SRT, you shouldnt need to defend it. Arent they being biased towards SRT?

    Please dont bring yourself to their level

  • Nitin Gautam on October 3, 2012, 9:50 GMT

    "Anyhow all of you run in and bowl googlies, yorkers and beamers at me. Some of you are also shouting invectives at me and cursing. What do I do. I can let some balls go. But I also have to defend and score a few, shouldn't I"

    Ofcourse you should if your methodology, or integrity is questioned or you are accused of any bias (which at least I am sure never comes in analysis), but defending Lara each time is not as required as it seems. Point here was % of innings over 50 & if kallis ponting SRT, yohana are better than Lara than its fine. & % clearly showed its a very tightly held group & 5% is all between top & bottom.

  • Dillion on October 3, 2012, 9:16 GMT

    Thanks for taking down memory lane.I stopped watching cricket after his retirement

  • Ranga on October 3, 2012, 8:31 GMT

    . . . and regarding some comments that Lara was playing for a weak team and hence he got more opportunities to bat (may not exactly be in this blog, but I have seen these from many of the blog readers), I think it is extremely difficult to score runs and that too in buckets like how Lara did, without support. A similar advantage was attributed to Sir Richard Hadlee, playing for a weak NZ team, got more opportunities to take wickets. It is ok if Lara was marginally better than his team mates, when weak team could have benefitted. He royally found a place among the best in the game. Putting his records down due to weak team is absolutely funny! It is more difficult to score runs if your partner was Stuart Williams or Sherwin Campbell than Sehwag or Gambhir. Batting with Warne at #8 is not the same as Ambrose at #8. Playing for weak team and scoring runs aplenty in itself should be a task coz you actually dont get more "opportunities", instead you tend to get stranded on 40*!

  • Ranga on October 3, 2012, 8:24 GMT

    One more aspect of "prince" BCL was his total lack of insecurity. That reflected in his batting, his approach and his overall stature. Most cricketers rarely praise a contemporary cricketer profusely. It needs open mindedness and total lack of insecurity to praise someone from heart (straight from the gut)! In 1993, during Hero Cup, Lara arrived in India, when Indians started taking note of him post his 277 Sydney masterpiece. When obvious comparisons with SRT cropped in, he said, "Well - It would be my dream to bat like him. You can call me the Sachin of West Indian Team" . . .And this was not a euphemistic statement told just for the press. This guy meant it. It takes extreme courage and self belief to walk on 91 after such a dismal tour. Most often than not, even while fending for balls, he never appeared insecure. And to me it was one of the greatest traits that anyone could possess!!

  • Dr. talha on October 3, 2012, 8:12 GMT

    @Tman.Whoever says Lara was not a good ODI player, must re-look his stats.I have already mentioned "He has 11 ODI hundreds against Aus, Pak & SAF. Three top teams of 90's. Bowling attacks included Wasim, Waqar, Macgrath, Fleming, Donald, Pollock. Devillier etc. Cant get any better". Somebody said "Lara is not good against fast bowlers". As i said "he couldnt score a test hundred against wasim % waqar, in 7 test matches. But then, not many of the batting greats got 100's against the 2 W's, when both were playing". But its surprising that Lara didnt do well against 2 W's in tests. but did brilliantly in ODI's. Probably he batted agressively in ODI's, which was his natural game.

  • Ranga on October 3, 2012, 8:11 GMT

    An excellent analysis about an excellent player. I feel that a few myths about Lara has been definitely clarified. Not that the great man cared about them. 'Playing for records' - Well, if I were a West Indian of the 1993+ era, I wouldnt mind that. The only way West Indies (many times) could have survived series is by scoring big. They never clicked together as a team consistently. Nobody could have been certain of Windies batting (incl BCL himself) clicking twice in a row. Given that scenario, even if Lara was selfish (which he wasnt), I would still take that any day, over a selfless 40 run knock! He took up captaincy when there was no other choice and he never regretted. Instead of cribbing over what wasnt there, he always made the most of what was given, including his own form on any given day. This I definitely feel is one of his greatest traits!!

  • Vivek Shantharam on October 3, 2012, 8:04 GMT

    I cried Sir again , after April 21 2007, when he played his last match. This is a definitive guide to all who would like to get a glimpse of his career. One more info, in the process of his 226, he surpassed Border as well, you may include it if you wish. The Perth 132 was however after the series was lost and there were a number of matches in those series where he went for 2.Another worthwhile innings was at 2003 WC against SA from being 25/2 after 15 overs.

    I have always felt that he has underacheived with his talents considering his last 16 tons were made in last 4 years.Finally, Good to see there is someone who admires him and decorates him as much as I(like) to do.And I would be happy if you include "DID I ENTERTAIN" as well.

  • Ramarao on October 3, 2012, 7:01 GMT

    It is no surprising fact that personal opinion and obsessions will overrule and overwhelm the rationale and intellect. Both Sachin and Lara wonderful batsmen and are indisputable all time greats and certainties in all time top 5 in ODIs and Tests. I have observed a clear wave of people waiting to dishonor what Tendulkar has done. At least, Ananth is someone who directly agrees he loves Lara over Tendulkar. He mostly restrict it overrule his analysis. Most of this hatred generated outside and inside India on Tendulkar is partly triggered from Some of the over obsessive and irrational Tendulkar fans who are hyper enthusiastic and overly concerned about absence of Tendulkar's mention in anything substantial or UN-subtantial. Irrespective of rising interest levels to hate & try to lower his contributions to cricket, he, by virtue of his stats( and not followers or devotees) is most complete Modern Batsmen. People can have their own choice. Respect it or leave it.

  • shrikanthk on October 3, 2012, 4:28 GMT

    If Lara did not score runs, WI would have been defeated anyway even in flat tracks. Batsmen job is to score runs and Lara did that well

    Good point. I often get annoyed when people talk about a batsman not making a difference to the team's "results" in test matches.

    Cricket (excluding the white ball game) is the greatest of team sports IMHO. It's very very very difficult for a single individual (esp a batsman) to make too much of a difference in this sport. Here's a thought experiment.

    Consider Lara in the WI team. The guy averaged 52 per innings. Suppose you replace him with say Dwayne Bravo who averages say 30 per innings, you ONLY lose 22 runs per innings. Okay. Lara probably will enable other batsmen to play around him and score runs as well. So the incremental value of Lara over and above Bravo is probably 40 runs. Not more than that!

    So unless you're Don Bradman, you WILL NOT add incremental value of more than 40 runs to a team's total in test cricket.

  • shrikanthk on October 3, 2012, 4:15 GMT

    The reason for his ODI underachieving is manifold. One, he often came in late, much lower down the order and had to operate at a risky, explosive pace. Two, for a long period he was determined to give other younger WI players "training practise" higher up the order. Three, the situations WI found themselves in were consistently horrendous. Four, lack of batting partners and teammates who seemed inept and joyous of wasting balls.

    And Five : ODI results tell you nothing about Lara the cricketer. Let's keep the white-ball game out of the discussion please.

    The Bridgetown classic of 153 remains, for me, the best Test innings ever played.

    I still think DGB's 270 is hard to beat. Given the 0-2 deficit, the state of the scoreboard and rapidly changing pitch conditions. [[ Still the 270 is the best in the HW-100 table. I have talked about it for the past 11 years and understand probably every aspect of the innings. However the series status does not get in the innings ratings nd that might add some addl lustre to the uinnings. My current view is that it is certain to be in the top-5, but may not be the best in the revised table. Ananth: ]]

  • Sarosh on October 3, 2012, 3:12 GMT

    Lara has indeed produced some of cricket's classics. @Harsh Thakor, I wasn't going to mention the "T" word in a Lara tribute. But you state "A significant factor is that in 2 out of 3 phases of his career Lara averaged over 60 runs,which Tendulkar has never averaged in any phase.In his best phase Tendulkar averaged 59.26....". Well, Tendulkar: 01 Jan 1991 – 01 Jan 2005 -9213 @ 60.2 ,33 100s,34 50s- (14 yrs) 01 Jul 2006 – 01 Jul 2011 – 4223 @ 61.1 ,16 100s,18 50s)– (5 yrs) 49 100s , 100 50+ scores. There are also multi-year periods with a 65-70 avg.The prior article also sheds some light on this. So , Tendulkar may claim to average 60+ for at least 19 yrs of his 23 yr career. That is longer than the entire careers of most modern greats including Lara, Dravid,Ponting,Kallis etc. Lara and co.great batsmen no doubt. But Sachin is not just another everyday batsman. [[ The previous analysis showed a 10-year segment at 63+ for SRT. That is an indisputable fact. Ananth: ]]

  • Ajinkya on October 3, 2012, 2:40 GMT

    With reference to the world xi certainties, the only ones, in my opinion, would be Bradman and Sobers. Warne and Gilly would be near certainties, as would Malcolm Marshall. For me, Lara's biggest strength was that he never really changed his game; he was the same flamboyant, destructive player up to his retirement. That deserves a lot of credit. I wonder why he never scored a Test 100 in India, seeing as he was a brilliant player of spin and India have never had the strongest of bowling attacks(esp. pacers). [[ He would have, if he had not walked at 91, in 1994. Ananth: ]]

  • Sree on October 2, 2012, 19:11 GMT

    Ananth

    Been reading your blog obsessively for many years but rarely felt the need to comment due to the erudition and perspective provided by other readers. Thank you for such a wonderful article on the greatest batsman that it has been my privilege to witness. [[ The raders maketh the blog: I am only a facilitator. Ananth: ]] Except the 132, I saw all the other innings that you mentioned completely, literally ball-by-ball. My favourites are 153* and 226. Reading this article was like a nostalgic trip through my own life as I remember exactly what I was doing when Lara played each of those wonderful innings. Once again, thank you for such a heartfelt tribute to a peerless artist and entertainer.

  • Mansoor on October 2, 2012, 19:06 GMT

    Bradman Lara Gilly

    how true.. good to see gilly is appreciated as an all time 11 keeper

  • Som on October 2, 2012, 18:27 GMT

    From all these analysis, seems to me that 'Cricket is so demanding that unless you are a Bradman, your place in the test XI may not be guaranteed'.

    That's where I find Federer the ultimate guy. He combined the ultimate grace, poise and beauty that Lara entertained us with, with almost 80% results and solidity that Bradman provided.

    As entertaining as I find almost every other shot of Lara, I am in awe of the 'zero' follow through straight drive of Sachin. And I thought that no one hits the straight drive better than Gavaskar. [[ I have come to the conclusion that there is only ONE player who is certain of his selection into a World XV. That is Bradman. Only the uninformed, biased and mired in the sand follower will invent reasons to keep him out. They do not matter. No one else can be absolutely certain of selection: not Sobers, not Tendulkar, not Lara, not Hobbs, not Murali, not Warne, not Gilchrist, not McGrath, not Marshall, not Imran, not xyz. Each person will have a core "must-have" group. Mine can have three players. You may have three. Nitin may have two. Ramesh may have four and so on. That is the right each individual possesses. We should have the sagacity to avoid putting down one person's core group as biased, debatable, unsound, personal, unacceptable etc. Of course bias comes into every selection. There can be debate outside but not within the concerned person. It is sound in his own mind. It is of course personal. It is acceptable to the person, that is what matters. Ananth: ]]

  • Nitin Gautam on October 2, 2012, 17:11 GMT

    "Just 2% separating Lara and Kallis. And higher than Dravid." @Anantha you dont have to defend Lara always...he has done enough [[ It was only because quite a few people had talked about Lara's being dismissed for low scores very high % of innings that i made that comparison. His % was higher than Dravid, that solud wall. Should mean something. Anyhow all of you run in and bowl googlies, yorkers and beamers at me. Some of you are also shouting invectives at me and cursing. What do I do. I can let some balls go. But I also have to defend and score a few, shouldn't I. Ananth: ]] @wapsting "Against that, you have 2-2 with Aus (one of the greatest series performances by a single batsman) and 0-3 in SL" how does that qualify to be in support of the ans to the qus asked about BCL's permanences against top notch pacers..waqar & dinald probably the quickest at tht time proved it in plenty.. My ques to Anantha is him selecting Lara in equation with Don & gilly..very subjective & personal though, still debatable & mostly unaccepted. [[ Unacceptable in certain group of readers , I accept. Then you should be ready to accept my similar riposte on ANY selection, I repeat any selection, other than Bradman. Ananth: ]] Lastly I m afraid Im that commentator who put u in wheels.if I am than I am sorry never meant tht ways.I had 1 of my comment nt published so thts why [[ You are not the person. And all your comments have been published, barring none. Ananth: ]]

  • Ajinkya on October 2, 2012, 14:56 GMT

    I only compare SRT and Lara because they are by common consensus, the two greatest batsmen of their generation. Granted, the 132 was an excellent innings against quality bowling, but my point is that Lara did not consistently make an impression against top drawer pace. Compare this to Tendulkar or Kallis who are equally likely to score runs on a given day in any conditions. I suggest that we often take runs for granted, and are swayed by flamboyance and style, as arresting as it can be. I'd pay to watch Lara over Kallis any day, but if I had to choose one to go out and get a 100 for my team on a random day? Kallis it would be.

  • Som on October 2, 2012, 14:41 GMT

    @Waspsting - Thanks for the data, something I was referring to. Cutoff of 50 is good, but it seems a cutoff of 38 is a T5 average for all tests and 46 or 'won' tests. But as we have some data on '50' as cutoff, I worked on some more players and here they are: These players are all candidates for the all time XI or XV.

    Innings where more than 50 runs were made (%) Bradman - 52.5 Hobbs - 42.2 Weekes - 42 Barrington - 42 Walcott - 39.2 Viv - 37.9 Hutton - 37.7 Headley = 37.5 Kallis 37.4 Gavaskar - 36.9 Tendulkar 36.9 Ponting 36.5 Greg C - 36.4 BRIAN LARA 35.3 Sobers - 35

    @Sanj - In this case I would tend to agree with you - "So – If picking Lara without knowing in advance if he is going to produce one of his 5 % or so top innings" Barring Sobers, even if all others are slightly ahead, Barrington, Weekes, Walcott, Hobbs and Bradman are all way ahead. And in terms of destructiveness, Viv would still beat Lara while also being 7% more likely than Lara to score 50 every time.

  • Tman on October 2, 2012, 13:58 GMT

    Is Lara poor vs pace? Devon Malcolm, one of the fastest bowlers of the 90s, rates Lara as his toughest opponent. He said Lara was utterly demoralising to bowl to. An analysis of Lara vs genuine pace would be interesting. My instinct, and I've watched Lara for over a decade, is that he's prone to geting lbw vs pace or caught behind, by virtue of his very attacking style. As Devon Malcolm said, though, "once he's in, you can't move him". Lara's battles with Bret Lee and McGrath have produced some iconic innings.

    Remember Lara's 400 was against a bowling attack that would reclaim the Ashes a year later. Fast man Younis rated Lara very highly. Not sure about Lara and Wazim Akram stats together. Who else were dominant fast bowlers in Lara's era?

  • Waspsting on October 2, 2012, 13:34 GMT

    some statistical confirmation for Lara coming up aces against Warne - and against spin in general

    http://blogs.espncricinfo.com/itfigures/archives/2008/10/lara_v_spin_and_other_headtohe.php

    Shame he never played Saqlain Mushtaq much in ODI (that is, i wonder if Saqi could have kept Lara quite?)

    I've seen Saqi tie down guys like Sidhu and Azharuddin in ODIs - amazing. He's the best spinner i've seen when it comes to resisting attack and Lara's the best i've seen at attacking spinners. would have been a great contest.

    Just a couple of brief encounters i recall. in the series Shoaib hit Lara on the head, he played Saqi a bit.

    Saw him trying to charge down a couple of times, saqi dropped it a little shorter and Lara just blocked it away.

    ---

    Ananth, is data of this sort readily available? number of balls, runs scored and dismissals for one bowler vs one batsman? [[ Maybe the nth time (n approaching 25) that I have mentioned this. ball-by-ball data is available only in the proprietary realm of organizations like Cricinfo. They will not make it available even to me. And dismisaals mean really nothing. Hayden loses his wicket to Gripper at 380. What can you make of it. What is important is how many balls and how many runs. Low score dismissals mean something, though. Ananth: ]]

  • Som on October 2, 2012, 12:44 GMT

    "Not my words, but Gavaskar's." Trust he would know ! His 96 at Bangalore against Pakistan in the 5th and final test with the series tied at 0-0 is perhaps one of the best innings played by an Indian batsman. Like SRT's 136 in Chennai, SMG got out after batting for 320 mins and India lost by 16 runs chasing 221. As in 1999, Pakistan had a great attack and Iqbal Qasim with help from Tauseef just bamboozled the Indians. In terms of context, this inning is even far more important because it was the last test of the series, with no chance to settle scores and the last innings for SMG before retirement. Very very high quality batting from the legend in a pitch where run scoring was very very difficult. Still cherish watching it live on TV. [[ The 96 was as good as the 136 was. Both against top quality attacks and in losing causes. Ananth: ]]

  • Tman on October 2, 2012, 12:20 GMT

    It's a misconception that Lara wasn't a ODI player and was only suited to Tests. He was increadibly explosive and paced an ODI inning like few in his era. Retired and at 41 years of age he recently played 3 charity 20/20 matches vs Jamaica: the man is explosive and effortlessly top scored in each match, and AGAIN was surrounded by an inept bunch of teammates, and again lost all 3. The story of a lifetime for Lara. [[ Unfortunately the shortage of space has prevented me from doing justice to Lara in his ODI career. Ananth: ]] The reason for his ODI underachieving is manifold. One, he often came in late, much lower down the order and had to operate at a risky, explosive pace. Two, for a long period he was determined to give other younger WI players "training practise" higher up the order. Three, the situations WI found themselves in were consistently horrendous. Four, lack of batting partners and teammates who seemed inept and joyous of wasting balls.

    My job has taken me across England, WI, India and Australia. Everywhere he seems enjoyed by cricket fans as a near-Olympian entertainer.

  • Tman on October 2, 2012, 12:06 GMT

    Mr Narayanan, can you please tell us when you first saw Lara and how your views of him formed over the years? For me, it was seeing him bat with Viv at a young age. When he made his 277, it was clear that this was a West Indian of the old order, of the old mould. Throughout the 90s my respect of him only grew - he was riveting, and his blade flashed with a beauty-but-fury that is rare. [[ My first real positive sight of Lara was his outstanding 88 in the 1992 WC match against Pakistan. Ananth: ]] From 1999 onwards, his style changed: more nuanced, the trademark jumping clip-off-the hip and violent hook shots went, and he preferred aggressive-but-elegant drives combined with deft wrist work - some of his shots were increadibly subtle - and at-will boundary hitting. His high backlift gets talked about, but his footwork was unique too. He attacked with his legs, and simultaneously moved backwards and forwards at the moment the bowler released the ball.

    Further to above, Lara suffered from conjuctivitis, or an itchy eye condition, which he eventually fixed, coinciding with a form return.

  • Waspsting on October 2, 2012, 11:59 GMT

    @Harsh re: Viv Richards & Lara - supporting your tentative point, i'd like to point out that Richards batted on livlier wickets in WI.

    In Richards' time, there was pace and bounce in West Indies wickets. In Lara's time, they were much flatter. I'd give Richards an edge on that basis.

    @Gerry re: Warne and Lara - i'm not following your point. Aus beat WI convincingly mostly, and it seems that's what your basing your conclusions of Lara vs Warne on?

    That's like saying Murali topped Lara because SL beat WI 3-0 while Lara was scoring 600+ runs in 3 tests!

    Warne rarely got Lara out, and Lara not infrequently hit him about. My memory of their encounters is Lara played him so easily that if you didn't know Warne was Warne, it'd barely be noticable.

    Warne was actually dropped from the Aus team thanks largely to the poundings Lara gave him in that 2-2 series in WI!

    I'd say Lara came ahead in his battles with Warne (McGrath's a completely different story, of course) [[ I agree. McGrath was probably 55-45 against Lara. Just a off-the-top number to indicate the moving head. Ananth: ]]

  • Tman on October 2, 2012, 11:56 GMT

    Mr Narayanan makes a good point: Lara is one of the only cricketers whom people of different nationalities "stay up to look at". My occupation has seen me living in India, the West Indies, Australia and England. All my life I have watched cricket. But though an Indian "supporter", I have throughout my life made an effort to go to or watch every match Lara has played. He simply was that good to look at. Not only aesthetically, but there was something dramatic about the horrendous positions his team always found themselves in, how outgunned he consistently was, and how insurmountable the odds always were. But Lara kept climbing mountains, often in vain. We love the underdog. From 1996 onwards, Lara batted with a squint, a kind of repressed disdain for cricket or perhaps the WI team situation. But he never complained. He just went out there and boxed and indeed seemed to thrive on the incompetence around him. Lara is the only batter I've seen who loves being faced with the impossible.

  • Tman on October 2, 2012, 11:46 GMT

    1. Mr Narayanan, another fantastic article. You always offer a unique angle in your writings. (PS - you may enjoy the film Moneyball, a film about the convergence of sport and raw math) [[ I have yet to make my acquaintance with Billy Beane. I would do it soon. Ananth: ]] 2. Someone above said it is wrong to equate sport with art and many of the other posters consistently bring up Tendulkar (why does talk of Lara alaways degenerate into slugging matches with Tendulkar). First of all, sport is art and as a avid cricket watcher since the late 1970s, I have never seen a batsman as gripping, exciting, beautiful and dramatic as Lara. I would watch Lara on his worst day over Tendulkar on his best purely because of aesthetics. Incidentally, Lara is good friends with Tendy and was recently at his house. [[ I have fought this particular malaise for over 3 years. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on October 2, 2012, 11:30 GMT

    "artist often only came out of his shell when the chips were down or the odds were rediculous. He loved personal challenges and pushing himself. He got better when faced with the impossible"

    @Trent - i disagree with this.

    when faced with a strong pace attack, Lara usually under-performed. 0-5 in SA, 0-3 in Pak, even lean times against Eng up and coming pace attack (and these were times he was failing with the bat, not just the team losing).

    Against that, you have 2-2 with Aus (one of the greatest series performances by a single batsman) and 0-3 in SL. Great achievements both, but not a particularly fast bowling heavy challenge

    My feeling on Lara is that against fast bowling, he came off second best. I don't think it mattered much if he was motivated or not

    If taking it to Murali (or Warne and MacGill) was the challenge that spurred him onto such great performances, you'd think he'd be equally motivated to take on Wasim, Waqar and Donald (esp. given SA's racial history)

  • Waspsting on October 2, 2012, 11:15 GMT

    Was looking at # of innings and # of scores over 50 for a bunch of modern greats. (didn't count not outs)

    Kallis 37.4% Tendulkar 36.9% Ponting 36.5% Yousuf 36.5% Sangakarra 36.5% BRIAN LARA 35.3 Dravid 34.6 Inzamam 34.5 Jayawardena 32.7 Hayden 32.0 Sehwag 31.8 S. Waugh 31.5

    Looks like Lara's pretty standard on reaching 50s - smack in the middle of his contemporary greats. [[ Just 2% separating Lara and Kallis. And higher than Dravid. Ananth: ]]

  • nishant verma on October 2, 2012, 10:55 GMT

    congrats for an excellent article when u mention lara's 153, my mind takes me to chennai, 1999 was it tendulkar's fault that indian lower order batsmen threw their wickets away, while their west indian counterparts just refused to get out? wasim akram, waqar younis, saqlain mushtaq, 4th innings, 250 plus target, steve dunn, bad back- and 136- enough to label it as the best ever test innings? just a thought [[ "When someone is at the crease trying to win a match, he should finish the match himself and not depend on others." Not my words, but Gavaskar's. What you say may be applicable to Warner's 123. Anyhow can we go off such comparisons please. Ananth: ]]

  • Harsh Thakor on October 2, 2012, 10:31 GMT

    A significant factor is that in 2 out of 3 phases of his career Lara averaged over 60 runs,which Tendulkar has never averaged in any phase.In his best phase Tendulkar averaged 59.26.Lara however average only around 40 run sin his last phase.

    In terms of consistency Lara lags behind George Headley,Jack Hobbs ,Ken Barrington and Sachin Tendulkar.Where Lara stands out are his outstanding match performance ratings in both the analyses of 2009.However Headley and Hobbs have higher match performance figures while Viv is very close and had his Packer years not been lost may have overhauled Lara's figures.Considering the wickets Hobbs and Headley championed in their era they may well have overshadowed Sachin and Lara for the 2nd place to Bradman if they played in the flatter tracks of the modern era. In the overall analyis the consistency of Hobbs ,Headley and Tendulkar and the match-wining flamboyance of Viv Richards may just edge Brian Lara. [[ The solution may be the combination of a batsman like Richards with Hobbs. Ananth: ]]

  • Syed Ammar Saeed on October 2, 2012, 9:35 GMT

    Dear Ananth Very very good article. I just read yr own post mentioning abusive attitude of some senders. I suggest you put those comments on public view (if not seriously personally oriented towards you) and let the ppl know about those miscreants. [[ Not really needed. Thanks for the support. I also do not want to mail these people directly which will expose my mailid. Anyhow does not matter. Ananth: ]] And the subsequent sequence of comments "admiring"(read: admonishng the culprits) will certainly help in curbing such posts. But don't loose heart, we are here to appreciate yr good work. May ALLAH TA'ALA bless you and all with his Rehmat & Aafyat. Aameen

  • Ajinkya on October 2, 2012, 9:20 GMT

    Lara is undoubtedly one of the most magnificent batsmen the game has seen, one of my absolute favorites as well. The only thing which prompts me to put Tendulkar slightly ahead is that Lara never seemed completely at ease against genuinely fast bowling. Maybe something to do with the fact that he never stood still at the crease like Tendulkar or Sehwag? I do not think he could have played an innings like Tendulkar's 146 in Cape Town, the same way Tendulkar hasn't yet scored a 300. Lara was the best against spin I have seen, though. Your thoughts? [[ May also be because Lara never faced his own fast bowlers. Anyhow why should all comparisons be with Tendulkar. Seems like an obsession. The 132 at Perth does not seem to be an innings of a weaker-against-pace batsmen. Australia scored 243 and 194. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on October 2, 2012, 8:13 GMT

    Ananth, Lara v/s Warne - writing from memory. Lara started brilliantly with 277, but Warne was just about getting his act together in 1992-93. As a matter of fact, when he spun WI out in Melbourne, we sat up and took notice, but it was only in the next series vs Eng that Warne really came of age.

    The other good series was in 1999, an epic series. All other series were fairly ordinary.

    I remember the series in which WI chased 418 did not have Warne. Finally, in 2005-06, Lara made 226, but it was the stable door story - the horse had already bolted, and the series was already conceded in miserable fashion. Even in 226 Adelaide test, though every stroke was utterly thrilling, Warne had the last laugh. Overall, Warne was far more consistent except for 1998-99, where Lara reached heights never reached before.

    I know this blog is about numbers, but we have seen that they don't often tell the whole story.

  • Som on October 2, 2012, 7:55 GMT

    Ananth - Thanks for your notes on the comments. For most batsmen an interesting measure would be:

    a> Average number of partners they batted with per innings - Indicator of how much have been their calming influence. b> Average partnership length in balls/mins - Calming influence again. c> Average partnership runs - Indicator of motivation d> Average partners batting position index weighted by balls/mins in crease - Whether someone had a greater influence in calming or motivating higher order batsmen or lower order ones e> Self vs partners % runs contribution (which is another great one you often come up with)

    Wonder where would Lara be positioned vis-a-vis other batting greats in these categories. [[ Full data is not available to do this. There are three types of FoW information availeble. a. 1-23, 2-35, 3-98 ... b. 1-25 (Sehwag), 2-97 (Gambhir), 3-143 (Dravid) ... c. 1-41 (Smith-14.2 ov), 2-87 (Amla-29.1), 3-145 (de Villiers-41.2) ... Half the matches have (a), probably 30% have (b) and 20% have (c). With (a) you know when the batsman got in but nothing else, other than not outs. With (b) you know when the batsman got in, when he got out but not balls faced info. With (c) you have complete information on partnerships, runs & balls. Ananth: ]]

  • Nasiruddin Shaikh on October 2, 2012, 7:42 GMT

    Dear Ananth,

    Great analysis for a great cricketing career, can you do similar analysis for the geat street figter Javed Miandad of Pakistan [[ I can certainly do a similar analysis but cannot dedicate an article for that since there are so many other articles in the pipeline. But can upload the summary of tables and provide the link. I will do this soon. Ananth: ]]

  • Zulfiqar Ahmed on October 2, 2012, 5:27 GMT

    Again a wonderful statistical effort to compliment a wonderful batsman.While we are talking about numbers I hope you will appreciate that frequency of 100s shown in career summary as 6.8 tests/100 may hurt Brian Lara because he actually scored a hundred every 3.85 tests. Regards [[ It is my mistake. It should be Inns/100. Has been corrected. Ananth: ]]

  • Sanj on October 2, 2012, 5:15 GMT

    Re.Lara's stats relative to team - this only means that the rest of the batting side was poor. There will be more responsibility but this may be a good thing for attacking batsmen.

    As the previous analysis showed Lara's best years were WIs worst. So also for SRT and the Indian team. May be the other way around for some batsmen. So, there is no pattern here. Chanderpaul too has been at his best after Lara retired.

    All said and done Lara was undoubtedly an all-time great. Positing him as the best after Bradman, however, based essentially on a few great innings - borders on hyperbole.

    Given Lara's flashiness and the way he stuck to his style right through his career -I think Sinatra’s “I did it my way” would be a better choice than "Lara’s theme" for BCLs career.

  • Sanj on October 2, 2012, 5:02 GMT

    For me it is two-horse race for best modern day batsman (post Viv)- SRT and Lara. With SRT my crystal clear and constant pick for the all-time World XI.

    With Lara it seems some people get a bit carried away by his great innings. At times the error is equating Sport directly with Art .Or end result with skill (as “Waspsting” pointed out). Although there is definitely an aesthetic appeal in certain sportsmen – Sport and Art are two different things. A Leonardo or Picasso may be held “better” than others on the basis of a few masterpieces – we can simply ignore all the other work ,sketches etc. In sport, especially team sport, we cannot. Because the other performances also affect the team. This is what leads to the logical inconsistency with Lara. While picking an all time World XI team ,It we be nice if we knew in advance whether Lara was going to play one of his handful of great innings (mainly against spinners and medium pacers one must make a note) we may pick him. The same may be said for many flamboyant batsmen – Viv, VVS, Sehwag etc. But , of course ,we don’t know. So – If picking Lara without knowing in advance if he is going to produce one of his 5 % or so top innings (which is for all real purposes is matched by SRT as well. For eg the 136 as good if not better than the 153 ,except for the end result) -Given both SRT and Lara injury free (Lara was fortunate compared to SRT in that regard) then one would go with SRT all the time, any time ,any conditions, any bowling, anywhere.

  • Dr. talha on October 2, 2012, 4:14 GMT

    @Ananth. If we talk about worldX1, i will ceratainly have sobers in my line-up. Not because he was a better batsman than SRT, Lara and Viv. Who was better, that is certainly debatable. But i will include him because he has been the best batting all-rounder. And as i mentioned in your last artcle, i will have Imran as he has been the best bowling all-rounder. I dont want to miss "the best" of any department, while making my WorldX1.That was the reason why i included both Murali & Warne in my eleven. I agree with u Ananath, Don & Gilli will certainly be there, but the actual competition will be between Viv, Lara and Sachin. Now who is better, that should be discussed, probably when Ananth will do a similar article on VIv % SRT..

  • Ramesh Kumar on October 2, 2012, 4:00 GMT

    Contd'

    5. Ananth rightly points out the fallacy of using runs scored in winning cause. Bowlers win matches. Lara’s runs in lost causes are very important to assess him as batsman.

    6. Lara kept his game simple. SRT was like that in 90s and after his injuries, SRT is using more of his head to play the game and hence we are missing the pure joy of his batting which won him fans in 90s. To me, SRT & Lara would remain the best batsmen though I grew up watching Viv, SMG & Chappell.

    Finally, using words like selfish, flat track for Lara's 400 would be utter nonsense. You don't score 400 in a minefield. It is very difficult to play a long innings and it is only another dimension to Lara, the monster scorer. He has other classics to show case his talent.

  • Ramesh Kumar on October 2, 2012, 3:55 GMT

    Two great articles in succession.

    1. When Lara was on song, he could play shots thru different angles and find gaps. It was beautiful to watch and frustrating for the bowlers. For this reason, I could never understand his relatively lower strike rate in ODIs.

    2. For all his back-lift, when he played his shots, he would be in a classically correct position.

    3. When he scored big, he really dominated the bowlers. Big runs are important esp if your team is poor in batting.

    4. Batting is a one chance game. Too many possibilities for getting out. Even in a flat track, if you don’t put runs on the board, you will be defeated. If Lara did not score runs, WI would have been defeated anyway even in flat tracks. Batsmen job is to score runs and Lara did that well. I am not a great believer in “batting only in crisis” batsmen as it is always better to avoid crisis than managing one.

    Contd.

  • Ananth on October 2, 2012, 3:19 GMT

    I am unable to comprehend the attitude of some readers. A reader sends in a reasonable comment making a statement. I counter that in a very inoffensive manner pointing out the fallacy in the statement and taking the trouble of providing additional clarifications. The next comment from the same reader is a personal acid-attack. Why bother to comment if you cannot accept a counter. Very sad situation indeed. Ananth

  • Trent on October 2, 2012, 3:18 GMT

    Lara, having played with or spoken frequently with several past WI legends whom he idolized as a boy, and indeed having experienced the tailend of the Windies glory days (1989-1990), understood the symbolism of cricket. He relished chewing up Colonial nations, and seemed to rise up against the best bowlers and teams etc. But Lara, you sense, from 1994 onwards, was tired of cricket - why not, where does one go from a 501 or 375? - and the artist often only came out of his shell when the chips were down or the odds were rediculous. He loved personal challenges and pushing himself. He got better when faced with the impossible. Stats don't reflect this aspect of him. Many of his mudane scores are remarkable when put in context.

    The 400 is disparaged by certain people, but for a West Indian, or anyone in the Caribbean, it was statement, a stamp, a reclamation of symbollic weight: we matter, we are important, we are people and we deserve. The 400 filled millions with pride. [[ On the dot. It was a completely unexpected reclamation of the record and should be given due respect and acknowledgement as Kumble's 10-wkt haul. Unfortuntely even in India, Kumble's stupendous performance hgas not received the recognition it deserved. Ananth: ]]

  • Trent on October 2, 2012, 3:00 GMT

    A fabulous article on my favourite batsman, and the most exciting cricketer/entertainer/artist I have ever seen. A great Lara innings was like a great novel, filled with drama and often the sublime. Dry statistics don't really capture what made Lara special. Incidentally, the author should do some research to see if Lara's poor patches coincided with his long standing eye disease/problem, which he eventually sought treatment for.

  • Hemant Brar on October 2, 2012, 2:41 GMT

    Was really waiting for this article. Awesome work.

    I think it was Ian Chappell who once said that he is the only bastman who could hit a bad ball for four irrespective of the time spent on the crease till then.

    And that 91 story has been made famous (atleast for me) by Siddhu, on TV shows.

    And this one comes from Sangakkara, during discussion after his Spirit of the Game lecture, that during some Tsunami or some match, he was keeping. SRT just got out and Lara was next in. An Indian at slip said, here comes the legend whom I just love to watch (something on those lines). Sanga asked, not SRT. The slip fielder whispered, No. He's the man. Later he revealed it was Dravid at slips.

    I hope as you provided a beautiful article on my favorite batsman, you will do one for my favorite bowler, Warne, too(Not a give away in your all time XI, eh?)or on some other greats.

    I have a great fantasy of all time XIs. Looking forward to yours as it will be backed by both numbers and class.

    Thanks :) [[ My single player analysis program is a very specialized one for the batsmen. I will develop one for the bowlers and the first bowler analyzed will be Warne. If you recall corectly I have mentioned that there should be a bowling pool. I will never on the field in Australia or West Indies without Warne. Ananth: ]]

  • Alex on October 2, 2012, 1:11 GMT

    @Ananth: Thanks for the long awaited article. I think there is a bunch of closely spaced 8-10 batsmen vying for the title of the "greatest post-WW2 test batsman" and Lara probably takes that biscuit with Sobers as the nearest rival.

    However, in team sports, the true test of truly great players is whether they can elevate others around them or not. The '96-'99 WI team had a good core of Hooper, Chander, Adams, Williams, and Campbell, and still effective Ambrose-Walsh. Yet they went down the hill. Hooper was capable of a 45+ avg, Adams _was_ averaging 49 before (as your article earlier this year showed) he suffered the most amazing slump of all to finish with an avg of 41. The KP saga shows that the locker room presence and x-factors matter. Lara probably fell a bit short on that count. [[ If the team is strong, it does not need uplifting, only holding the prima donnas together: as Lloyd, Waugh and Ponting did. If the team is weak I do not see many captains uplifting them or top batsmen doing it. Lara was not Brearley or Benaud. For that matter no one was. Finally if you switch back to the 2007 WC, you will notice the lack of contribution by certain players, a syndrome suffered by SRT when he was made the captain. Ananth: ]] Lara went out on a high and I pray that the trio of SRT-RTP-Kallis follows that example and closes out an exceptional era.

  • dale on October 1, 2012, 20:10 GMT

    If we use 3,000 runs as the cut off point, only eleven batsmen in the history of the game has averaged over 50 RPI. Of these batsmen,Sangakkara(surprise) is the only player in the past 38 years (with a RPI of 52.23), who has done better than Lara's 51.52 RPI. The others on the list are Barrington 51.95,Sobers 50.20 and then deal with the likes of Weekes 55,Sutcliffe 54.23,Hobbs 53.04,Hammond 51.78,Walcott 51.32 and Hutton 50.51. Of couse Bradman is miles ahead with an RPI of 87.45. This is an example of the elite group of batsmen where the name of Lara can be placed. I also believe this allows others to view his batting average in a different light as it relates to other batsmen who have higher averages. Pollock 55.02 and Headley 54.75 would join the list if the qualification was 2,000 runs. [[ Because Lara's not out % is a very low 1 in 40 innings, he fares very well in the TpI and RpT measures. In RpT, Lara comes third with 81.2, behind the Don at 134.5 and Weekes at 92.8. Ananth: ]]

  • Tariq on October 1, 2012, 19:39 GMT

    Ananth, thank you for this lovely piece. As a West Indian growing up in the 90s and early 2000's, Lara was our source of pride...we weren't winning much but we had the Prince. Your amazing stats bring out just what we were proud of. I was there watching the 153* live.....if you think it was tense at home in front of a screen, imagine what we were going through in the stands! It was test cricket theatre at its best. And Lara as the main actor did not disappoint. He was actually dropped a couple times in that innings as well...all part of the drama.

  • Vinodh Chandran on October 1, 2012, 19:01 GMT

    Oh oh oh Mathew Hayden goes on and scores 380 vs Zimbabwe at a time when aussies were hailing him as the best batsman in the world (search for the video in which Steve Waugh compares hayden's 380 more than lara's 375) and this genius Lara comes in and plays an excellent innings 400* and should have given an interview saying "It is my record and I wanted it back". Let him he selfish for one test match inning when he has served for his country selflessly for the other 130 matches after all he is the Prince die hard fan of Lara from India

  • Engle on October 1, 2012, 18:31 GMT

    Lara has a few other records to his name that tell a story. The most number of double-centuries in a losing cause. The highest number of runs in a match in a losing cause (vs SL). I'm sure there's others.

    So, context is important. The 400* therefore had less to do with winning a match, but more to do with restoring Caribbean pride. [[ Yes, I alo think so. I am not sure many West indians are complaining about the innings. Everyone knows about the St.John's pitch and how difficult to get a result. Ananth: ]]

  • Som on October 1, 2012, 17:32 GMT

    (cont...)

    Or is it top down. For every inclusion of Don, many other top class batsmen are to be left out to avoid redundancy? Afterall at the end of any such assessment when done with a strong emphasis on numbers, the cumulative maximization is a criteria. And in that light would Lara fit in or SRT or Viv or inclusion of one rules the other two out?

    Ananth, SRT and RD for their higher % of contribution in away matches deserve some credit because it tells something about them in this particular measure. [[ This credit has been given many times in this forum itself. Ananth: ]] Since RTP has high 4th innings % contribution, does it have any correlation with Aussie dominance? Do top players contribute less in 4th innings when they lose (across all teams), if so, it might explain a little bit of Lara's numbers.

    Can't put my finger to it but how intertwined are Steve Waugh's batting with team results. Would Lara, SRT measure up to it?

    Gayle and Samuels, though a bit later in Lara's career, were serious talent. Did Lara miss some trick there? [[ Maybe Lara was not a great leader. I have never said that. You will notice that I have said nothing on Lara's captaincy records. This is about Lara the batsman. Ananth: ]]

  • Som on October 1, 2012, 17:12 GMT

    Ananth - Sub 10 scores are just one of the indicators, so am not just relying on them. When combined with sub 25 and sub 50 scores, it gives a better picture. But who knows maybe a contribution of say 38 runs is an average for T5 batsmen when matches are won and one might want to see how often someone crossed that. The point is, its true like you said that most top players maximize on good starts, but how can we separate those who may not maximize as much from good starts but definitely fulfills the minimum requirement. Just a thought. [[ You cannot expect a certain level of minimum contributions and then some masterpieces. Then the batsman's name becomes Bradman. Ananth: ]] Electing a World XI is sometimes more lenient on batsmen than bowlers. While we try to have the best of all kind of variety as possible for bowlers and then evaluate it based on the combined chemistry and potential, we rarely do it for batsmen. For every Lara in a team, we might need a Dravid. So the question is how to evaluate the chemistry and comprehensiveness of a batting attack. (cont...) [[ For that reason only I have suggested a pool of bowlers to choose from. Ananth: ]]

  • Som on October 1, 2012, 16:09 GMT

    Ananth - What is the non-negotiable contribution that a top order batsman ought to make in a test innings based on runs scored by T5 batsmen across all matches (and in matches won). This could be a critical measurement criteria for all top class batsmen. Lara's 26.7% sub 10 scores are pretty dismal when he has spikes like 12 double centuries. [[ It is clear that Lara had more failures than most batsmen AND more successes than other batsmen. Why take that as a non-contribution. The sub-10% is not that far off for RTP (23.4%), SRT (22.3%), Dravid (22.4%), DPMDJ (23.3%), Sehwag (23.5%), Clarke (27.5%). The point is only Sanga has below 20%. So what can one glean from a 2-3% differential. Ananth: ]] If I ask this question - "Does Lara do better than his teammates in adversity"? Based on two important piece of data, he does not. While it is common for almost all batsman to have high 1st inn, almost as high 2nd inn, much lesser 3rd inn and quite low 4th inn averages, there is no reason for their % team contribution to fall. For Lara, it is around 22,18,17,15. Why? Also when playing abroad, his % contribution comes down from 19.4 to 18.5%. Interesting. [[ 1% drop. Kallis drops 2%, Ponting drops 1%. Sanga drops 3%, DPMDJ drops 3.5% Sehwag drops 3%, Clarke drops 2%. Only SRt and RD have a higher % contribution. But don't forget that the 19.5 and 18.4% are very high figures. the 19.5% is second to Don. The 18.5% is third behind Don and Hammond. For SRt the figures are 17, 15, 15 and 14. Does it tell anything more. For RTP the figures are 16, 13, 12 and 17. Again is anything obvious. Ananth: ]] Based on very high, 'high scores' and strings of very low scores, can one say, he made the most out of a conquered situation rather than conquering new situations again and again? [[ Probably true of almost all top players. Ananth: ]]

  • Dhanush on October 1, 2012, 15:20 GMT

    Ananth,

    I dont think you will be 'AS WHOLESOME' in your appreciation towards Tendulkar than Lara :)... I have been a silent observer (or reader) for the past few years of your blog and whenever you speak about Lara (or on his performances), I can see a GLOW in your eyes (or atleast in your words). I know, Lara is always YOUR preferred choice.. [[ I may not make as much a tribute from the heart as this one is. But I can assure you that it will be a complete and wholesome tribute. Frankly, other than his continued uncertainty over his career, especially the ODI format, there is nothing about Tendulkar that I do not like. Ananth: ]] Nothing to takeaway from Lara's entertainment he has provided all through his years, but still Tendulkar's Cover drive and straight Drive gives me more joy and pleasure than most other things in my life. I am not sure even I would have enjoyed so much if I was born during the era of Bradman,Gavasarkar, Sobers, Richards stc.., Anyway, each individual will try to make his favourite as supreme (as like Kamal and Rajini). For me ( or for most of my friends), Sachin stands tall than Lara not by much but by atleast three inches :).. Thanks for your article... enjoyed much..And eagerly waiting for Sachin's retirement and your article... Thanks!

  • Som on October 1, 2012, 15:04 GMT

    Ananth - Great article and a fitting tribute to the legend.

    Very early in their career, before they had been adjudged for their potential in the mainstream media, I had found a few players very very exciting, with great potential and someone whose careers I would had liked to follow. Some delivered to a great extent, others partially and some not so much. Lara, Cullinan, Mahela, Astle, Samuels are some of them among batsmen.

    As I mentioned in one of my comments in the previous article, I have never seen any batsman as talented as Lara in the last 3 decades. Though he translated quite a bit of that talent into performances, I feel he fell short by some. After the departure of the great Viv, watching no batsman gave me as much joy as Lara. IMO, alongside Akram, he has been the greatest entertainer during the last 2 decades.

    More onto the specifics of your analysis later but thanks for the great article.

  • Love Goel on October 1, 2012, 14:53 GMT

    As I watched Lara (on tv only) inch towards his 400 , I could not help but feel that this man is very special. He proved to the world that he is one of the best by scoring 375. And now that Hayden has unsurped his record, here comes Lara roaring back just after 6 months. Its like he is declaring the fact that this record belongs to him and no else. It was like saying that Hayden's record is an aberation(no disrespect to Hayden) and must be corrected. To do it again, and taking only 6 months do so when it takes ages for records like these to fall is definite prove of greatness [[ And I seriously think, to bring in words like selfishness and record-seeker to this once-a-lifetime innings is churlishness at its best. I think people do not appreciate the effort and concentration needed to bt for 14 hours. Ananth: ]]

  • Theena on October 1, 2012, 14:26 GMT

    Anantha, from one Lara fan to another: thank you. The journalist Rahul Battcharaya wrote of Lara: '.....because Lara's batsmanship was the greatest pleasure I derived out of cricket in the last two decades along with the bowling of Wasim Akram and I could have watched the game if they alone played it in the field. Lara batted with sensual beauty and gluttonous appetite. To watch him move into position was to already understand the possibilities of this game." That statement and now your statistical analysis is such great fodder for us Lara fans. [[ Rahul's book on the Indian tour of Pakistan is an established classic. Ananth: ]]

  • Dinesh on October 1, 2012, 14:22 GMT

    "Why stop at Tendulkar? Why not extend the slights to W.G Grace or Victor Trumper? maybe even Ramiz Raja?"

    @Waspsting: It has always been SRT vs LARA.isnt it? When Greats like Benaud, Chappel, Boycott, Bradman who while picking a World XI, look to one of these two, then we should realize that they have Seen something that we normal beings cannot see. They felt these guys were better than everyone else apart from may 1 or 2guys(read Sobers/Viv). We Guys should feel blessed that we got to See 2 of the Very Best Game Has ever Seen. I will sleep happily if i ever get to see a MasterClass from one of these two Again. Even a Youtube Vidoe. That is the Magic in their Cricket. Even though i disagree with your Statement of Lara a part of WorldXI, i fully agree that you were never and i think you will neever Ever be Biased. Some People think this is a Common Comment Section that they can get away with Saying anything as No writer Apart from You replies to Comments

  • Shernice Thomas on October 1, 2012, 13:03 GMT

    Very nice compilation of stats! Props

  • Waspsting on October 1, 2012, 12:21 GMT

    enjoying the comments about perceived slights to Sachin Tendulkar in an article un-apologetically dedicated to Brian Lara :)

    Says more about the commentators than it does about the article writer. [[ Unfortunately people do not realize that as and when I do an article on SRt I will be as wholesome in my appreciation. And in an article where I have never done any om[parisons between the two. Ananth: ]] Why stop at Tendulkar? Why not extend the slights to W.G Grace or Victor Trumper? maybe even Ramiz Raja?

    (anyone replying to this comment - assuming it gets published - asking "why you say Ramiz Raja and not Ravi Shastri?" - would make about as much sense as some of the comments made)

    Guess this comes with the territory of offering unmitigated opinions, Ananth - but i'm guessing you know this even better than I do

  • Nitin Gautam on October 1, 2012, 12:13 GMT

    "You seem to have a complex when it comes to SRT"

    Probably yes [[ I mentioned this only because you ignored the fact that I put SRT on a pedestal as far as on-field behaviour is concerned and presented a wrong statement, completely changing the meaning. Ananth: ]] however purely in terms of cricketing excellence I would never put SRT ahead of Lara & if someone considers SRT better cricketer than Lara, I would be the 1st to disagree. so this bias probably, very candidly confessing, is due to nationalist favouritism (which i agree should not be there).

  • Satya on October 1, 2012, 12:10 GMT

    Nice article. Big fan of Lara but people often overlook the fact that he often scored highly in dead rubber matches- average of >80 with 2000 plus runs if I'm not mistaken. Thanks to the great 153* there is also a bit of recall bias re: his abilities as a 4th innings player- his average of 35 is good but not outstanding. Loved watching him play though! [[ I have no idea where you picked up 2000+ at 80 in dead rubbers. You have to justify that statement. I am not going to do it. Pray, enlighten me what is a dead rubber. Do you think that Adelaide 2012 was a dead rubber. Then Kohli's 100 is useless. You said it, not I. One team desperately trying to avoid going down 0-4 and the other team desperately going for 4-0, there is no dead rubber. And what about Oval 2011. Shall we discount Dravid's 146. Do you think India or England played the match without being serious. As far as I am concerned, there is no dead rubber. As far as recall bias, I have given below my conclusions on the innings averages. "" The innings runs and averages follow a similar pattern. Most batsmen have high-first, high-second, reasonable-third and average-fourth innings values. Lara is no exception. There are many other top batsmen who have better third and fourth innings figures. Kallis has a third innings average of 68.8 and Gavaskar, a fourth innings average of 58.7. "" Give me credit for pushing the 153* but not Lara's fourth innings average. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on October 1, 2012, 12:05 GMT

    stayed about the same, got better if anything given they won a test match in SA soon after (something they hadn't come close to with Lara in the team)

    Supports my idea that one batsman's ability to influence result is very, very small.

    "Lara has never been involved in any incident on field."

    there was one - insisting Dhoni leave the field based on the fielders claim of a catch on the boundary that replays couldn't confirm.

    Lara was one to take the fielders word generally (sporting? probably "foolish" in this day and age) - i wonder if he'd have left if he were the batsman? in any case, he had no business to tell Dhoni how to behave (though Dhoni should just have ignored him. if he wasn't satisfied - and there was no reason for him to be - Lara's insistence changes nothing on that)

    ---

    Finally, let me say I'm happy to see you come out and offer us an unmitigated opinion Ananth. cricket talk is more fun this way! - with stats as a back up for support, not the opinion itself! [[ I don't want to do it more often. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on October 1, 2012, 11:57 GMT

    individual record and match result - that's logic, not causation.

    from this basis - i wouldn't hold an iota against, say Lara's glorious 3 test performance in SL (3 losses), just as i wouldn't add any sheen to say his 213. He batted well, that's all. (153 though has obvious elements as he was there at the end)

    re: analysis by countries faced - motivation was always a thing with Lara! doesn't seem any reason for him to not plunder Ind and NZ.

    I thought a great way of dealing with him was to say nice things about him - he'd bat less determinedly (and the reverse if you wanted to get his gander up) Before the SL tour, Everton Weekes had said that Lara was past it - and look at the reprisal! (Aus superiority and cockiness kept him pretty motivated)

    "Who lost out in the end? West Indian Cricket certainly." (re: Lara's retirement)

    We fans (including WI cricket) lost out on the thrill of watching him, but i don't know if WI lost out in terms of results (cont)

    disagree.

  • dale on October 1, 2012, 11:55 GMT

    Thanks for another excellent presentation! Lara's penchant for posting large scores is surpassed only by Bradman but there are other factors which certainly should place him on any all time squad.The main factor for me is the manner in which he scored the runs while establishing himself as one of the most attractive and enterprising batsmen in the history of cricket. I will now seek to absorb the total analysis you have so adroitly presented.

  • Farrukh Hanif Awan on October 1, 2012, 11:53 GMT

    Its great to know that you support the same guy as I do. Federer achieved what i thought was unbelievable when Sampras set it. So putting that in context. Players live a lifetime to score a 300+ in test cricket. Imagine having to do it twice in one lifetime. It is just remarkable. It is sad he played for a board who didn't think highly of him because almost all of the board members were strictly themselves legends in most cases. Anyways, great analysis. Please do an analysis SRT so that the fans can rest in peace :) I am not a SRT fan but nevertheless he deserves an analysis of such magnitude and inclusion in your team. PEACE [[ When the time omes, I will do as good an analysis of Tendulkar. There is no doubt about that. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on October 1, 2012, 11:43 GMT

    Definitely the master of masterpieces. Difficult not to root for West Indies when he was playing. 176 and 196 were also brilliant.

    In 132 in Perth, it was such a bad pitch that Ambrose got run out because his bat got stuck into a crack and he could not pull it out. During 213, in typically reckless fashion, Lara tapped and ran his 100th run, and my heart stopped beating till he was given not out.

    However he was not always upto a fight, unlike Steve Waugh / Chanderpaul. But to be fair, too often in 99-06 it was already a lost cause and Lara did not cash in with cheap "lost cause" IInd inn runs.

    I always felt that unlike Richards, who raised his entire team with his batting, Lara's greatness did not have a positive impact. Also got hit on the helmet too often when facing quicks. A great player of spin, though not v/s Warne. [[ When you have to raise your btting colleagues such as Greenidge, Haynes, Lloyd and Richie Richardson, I must say you have a reasonable chance. And when there are only two top quality players, Chanderpaul and the moody Hooper to work with, comparisons are on weak foundations. How do you conclude on the Warne vs Lara battle. Ananth: ]] Unfortunately he was clean bowled by Steve Waugh in the 1996 WC, and with it began a slide which finished WI. Till then he had OZ by the throat.

    153* the best.

  • Waspsting on October 1, 2012, 11:41 GMT

    Brian Lara has been my favorite batsman to watch, followed by Michael Slater and Mark Waugh. A style all his own - dashing and flair-ful

    ---- "Lara has...a huge 63.4% of sub-50 scores"

    I'd have thought that 37% score over 50 would be at least normal for great players - perhaps even good(?) [[ Difficult to say since these are one-player analyses. I have done the analysis for about 20 players, that is all. Ananth: ]] Since Lara's figures are beefed up by exceptional ability to make big scores, I think maybe the factor balancing down his overall figures (from a potential 55-60) is scores under 10.

    His reaching 50 seems standard (can't be sure without looking at others)

    re: results based record - as a rule i don't attach much weight to such things. says more about the team your in than it does about you - esp. for batsman.

    Lara's relatively even performances support this. I'd looked at these figures for all the modern batsman averaging over 50 and can confirm - his record in losses is the highest.

    as a batsman, scoring runs is in your hands - match outcome is not.

    If there are correlations between (cont

  • Farrukh Hanif Awan on October 1, 2012, 11:34 GMT

    Though I am not a big fan of SRT but when it comes to ODI tendulkar was amazing. The facet of Lara is that he played in a phase where the whole west indian cricket scene declined greatly. 96' was the last time I've seen West indies being WEST indian. To be that great in a team where everyone is so below you in terms of runs and records is just amazing. SRT had always had great company of good indian Batsman. Some of them Legends on their own. Dravid would be in my playing eleven for Test along with Lara alone on the record and the kind of foil he provided to his fellow batsman. Here is where Lara takes the edge. He practically had no foil. Yes, Chander's was their to provide him that but not in the sense that others have done so for Tendulkar. Two different styles of cricket. One of flair the other of immense technical prowess. As far as I remember, the only thing i recall of Lara in Pakistan is that he murdered the bowling attack.

  • Swapnil Ghayal on October 1, 2012, 11:28 GMT

    I knew it your really biased with Lara when you compare him to Tendulkar. As i had written in my last comment you have always tried to glorified lara against tendulkar. if one thing is achieved by tendulkar you will down play it but if some things are achieved by Lara you will glorify it. [[ Unlike last time, you have used no vitriol. So I have published your comment. However I suggest do not spoil this tribute to a great player by making another comment like this. You are welcome to stay away. Ananth: ]]

  • Raghav Bihani on October 1, 2012, 10:28 GMT

    @Ananth: Brilliant.

    I have watched many of WI matches only for Lara including 153* ball-by-ball late into the night. With cricket taking place virtually everyday, very few players have that class to make people stay up late or get up early just for them. I do not do it nowadays even for India matches.

    The best defense I have for the 400* is that England nearly scored all the WI 1st innings runs and would definitely have passed them had Lara declared 150 odd runs before. In fact, knowing how brittle WI was at that point of time, they could have created a record by losing after scoring 595. [[ The word record-seeker and selfish comes in easily to people who comment without sitting to think deeply. Ananth: ]] Finally, Lara asked us when he retired: "Did I Entertain?". Yes you did. Whatever, the match situation, the bowling attack, the pitch - there was not a dull moment when you were around. This is what sets you apart from others.

  • Farrukh Hanif Awan on October 1, 2012, 10:13 GMT

    Anand Thank you. Thank you for what you have written. I was choking up when i reached the end paragraph. This is the guy I always admired and I still rate his 153 against Australia the best ever innings played by a batsman against one of the fearful bowling attack in the form of Mcgrath. I remember him seething when he was hit for four or how Walsh would put his bat against his body just not to snick the bowl. For me, yes Bradman was a genius but he still had a better team then this Legend. When he gave that press conference I felt sad. Real sad that he was leaving. So the question he asked once, " did i entertain you" has been answered. Great Job Anand. [[ I go misty-eyed when I think of 153. At the end of the match, around 2 Am. I was jumping around and shouting so much that I woke up the entire family and got a bit of roasting from the better half. 10 years later, when Federer won that all-time classic final against Roddick, it was again jumping around time and the better half quietly supported me, she also being a committed Fed-fan. Ananth: ]]

  • Harsh Thakor on October 1, 2012, 9:29 GMT

    In terms of penchant for mammoth scores Brian Lara was the best batsman ever breaking the world record twice.In terms of pure domination of bowling at his best he matched Bradman ,Sobers and even Viv Richards.Unlike Lara,Viv did not prove himself as much in a crisis.To me Lara's 153 not out out of 308 at Barbados in 1999 v Australia is the best innings I have seen in a 4th innings run chase and amongst the top 3 of all time.To me his 277 at Sydney in 1992-93 is the best test innings ever by an overseas batsman down under.Few batsman could ever change the complexion of a test series more than Brian did in the 1999 Frank Worrel trophy.

    For creative genius Lara's greatest rivals were Denis Compton,Victor Trumper and Rohan Kanhaiwhile David Gower and Graeme Pollock just behind,in the left -handers category.When the chips were down Headley,Border,Miandad and Dravid were Lara's greatest competitors. [[ In your own way you have compered various facets of Lara with a number of greats. Well done. Ananth: ]]

  • Aparajith Shyam on October 1, 2012, 8:58 GMT

    Dear Ananth,

    A nice ode to certainly the most fascinating cricketer since Bradman. His 153* not out is the stuff of theatre. A lagaan-like climax. Two things that probably will never happen again. 1) A test average of 100 over a period of 50+ tests. 2) Another innings like 153* (An opposition having arguably the greatest fast-bowler duo and spinner, arguably the most compelling situations (target of 300 is more compelling than say a 500), fourth innings of test match, tailender desperately trying to stay not out, opposition's best bowler bowls magnificently, rasping shot to hit winning runs (not a scrambled single or overthrows), late evening finish, crowd mayhem etc.)

    Lara is competent in other fields as well 1) He is a qualified accountant (like a CA in india) 2) He was a competent footballer. (Played with likes of Dwight Yorke - former Man Utd) 3) Has won competitive golf tournaments His gift was the ability to focus and excel in whatever job he did. An eg. for us in excellence. [[ Thanks for the last few snippets. Ananth: ]]

  • Harsh Thakor on October 1, 2012, 8:56 GMT

    In pure test cricket Brian Lara's greatest rivals for the 2nd place to Bradman are Viv Richards,George Headley,Sachin Tendulkar and Gary Sobers.In many was Lara was the 'George Headley' of the modern era in terms of the average percentage score of the team's m total score as both batsman bore the brunt of the weakest of batting sides.However Headley is often ranked ahead being more consistent.

    Lara,may be arguably the best West Indian test batsman of all but still felt marginally short of Viv Richard's match-winning prowess who could turn the complexion of a game more than any batsman ever.Viv never cared for records and could have broken all of them if he wished to.

    Brian Lara's match performance ratings in your 2009 test batting analysis is ahead of Tendulkar and just nosing ahead of Viv and Ponting but I feel that playing for a weaker team elevated his rating.On wet tracks Headley and Hobbs were better masters.

  • Dr. talha on October 1, 2012, 8:51 GMT

    @Ananath. No wonder the article is long..the guy has such amazing records. We cannot ignore any. @Nitin. Ur absolutely right brother. In my view his ODI record is even better. He has 11 ODI hundreds against Aus, Pak & SAF. Three top teams of 90's. Bowling attacks included Wasim, Waqar, Macgrath, Fleming, Donald, Pollock. Devillier etc. Cant get any better. Though he couldnt score a test hundred against wasim % waqar, in 7 test matches. But then, not many of the batting greats got 100's against the 2 W's, when both were playing.

  • Harsh Thakor on October 1, 2012, 8:46 GMT

    A great effort Ananth.Even statistics do not do justice to Brian Lara who posessed more creative genius than any great batsman of the modern era. Lara's batting was a sight to behold whose strokeplay combined the ferocity of a tiger with the grace of a pianist and the imagination of a poet.Considering he bore the brunt of the weakest of batting sides I rate him the best left-handed batsman of all,above Pollock and Sobers.Had he played for a champion team he could have been the best West Indian batsman of all.At his best,Lara was marginally better than Sachin Tendulkar as a match winner and in a crisis.His best series run aggregates and highest individual scores testify this.

    What went against Lara was his lack of consistency in periods when Tendulkar scored above him,whoa also posessed superior grammar.Lara was also not as proficient against pace bowling as Viv Richards or Gary Sobers,although against spin bowling he was the best ever. [[ Would I be right in saying that no spinner troubled Lara consistently. Ananth: ]]

  • isha on October 1, 2012, 8:02 GMT

    Awesome analysis Anantha Really impressed with your calulations for bringing out the unrecognized underrated aspect of a Legend For me he is certainly the most exciting and entertaining Batsman of all time. Still remember sitting overnight infront of the TV with my dad watching him facing Aussie Bowling Brigade including the likes of Warne,Mc Grath,Gillespie in 1999 and making an unbeaten 153 probably the best test inning the world ever have witnessed. There is always a kind of adventure when it comes to lara's batting performance unfortunatly he has always been the sole tagret of the opposition bowling attack but the way he keep proving himself is unbelievable.Always lead from the front facing the attack that eventualy cost his wicket and may be the reason of his low batting avarage ... Thanks a Lot

  • Nitin Gautam on October 1, 2012, 7:59 GMT

    Anantha

    You mentioned "However unlike his fellow not-so-tall-legend" I could not understand the logic of this tongue in cheek comment. [[ I suggest re-read the same carefully. Both greats have been given credit by this statement. "In this matter he is exactly like his close friend". These are the words. Why twist the same. Ananth: ]] Clearly Lara played better at 3 than at 4 although he played more at 4 that at 3, so why to bring "equally tall probably taller" legend into the picture. [[ You seem to have a complex when it comes to SRT. This referred to their on-field behaviour. Ananth: ]] Re. 400, however it is defended it was more towards selfishness than an act of defiance by Lara. Your world XI will be yours & no one shud question that but Lara's inclusion is not as obvious as Don & Gilly. In modern batsmen..SRT has more chances on inclusion in any XI than BCL & I guess this will be true for most of the readers & I agree I can be wrong too.

    But again that will be your XI so no question. For me If I have to chose 1 among Lara & SRT, I would go for SRT.

  • Chris Murphy on October 1, 2012, 7:58 GMT

    The finest batsman I have ever seen play the game.

    Not necessarily the most consistent, or the most reliable, but on his day no one who lifted a bat in the last 30 years could hold a candle to him.

  • Bharath on October 1, 2012, 7:52 GMT

    Some hidden/unknown gems there. For example, I didn't know about the 132 at Perth in 1996-97.

    If I hadn't been a hard-core SRT fan, I would have followed BCL's career a bit more un-grudgingly :) [[ Both are wonderful players. Nothing wrong in following both. Ananth: ]]

  • Sifter on October 1, 2012, 7:29 GMT

    Ananth nicely done. Thanks for writing about Lara, an often overlooked gentleman of great talent. Now I've shared my true feelings, I'm going to be a trifle unfair and pick a small issue (the only issue I have with the article!). Your defence of Lara's 400. a) Declaring at 595 would have still invoked a LOT of scoreboard pressure, b) if the pitch was flat you need MORE time to bowl out another team twice if you want to win, c) How could WI lose from 595? It's never been done before! d) The other problem I have is with Lara's pacing. It's clear he never considered a more aggressive declaration. With WI 4/449 at tea, day 2, and Lara 224* from 293 balls, THAT would have been a perfect time to accelerate for a late evening declaration. But Lara did not. It took him 289 more balls to get to 400 - so his back half was significantly slower than his front half. Not saying it's open and shut obvious, but if he'd sped up in that 2nd half, his case for NOT being selfish would be stronger.

  • Nitin Gautam on October 1, 2012, 6:35 GMT

    Anatha Straight from the heart & Language of the article cant get better than this. A perfect tribute to the superlative genius. Will comment in deatil later but just 1 thing to ask, Why have u not included ODIs in his record..in ODIs too he was as gud as it gets.. [[ Nitin The length of the article. Already it is one of the longest articles I have done. So I restricted ODIs to a paragraph. Ananth: ]]

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Nitin Gautam on October 1, 2012, 6:35 GMT

    Anatha Straight from the heart & Language of the article cant get better than this. A perfect tribute to the superlative genius. Will comment in deatil later but just 1 thing to ask, Why have u not included ODIs in his record..in ODIs too he was as gud as it gets.. [[ Nitin The length of the article. Already it is one of the longest articles I have done. So I restricted ODIs to a paragraph. Ananth: ]]

  • Sifter on October 1, 2012, 7:29 GMT

    Ananth nicely done. Thanks for writing about Lara, an often overlooked gentleman of great talent. Now I've shared my true feelings, I'm going to be a trifle unfair and pick a small issue (the only issue I have with the article!). Your defence of Lara's 400. a) Declaring at 595 would have still invoked a LOT of scoreboard pressure, b) if the pitch was flat you need MORE time to bowl out another team twice if you want to win, c) How could WI lose from 595? It's never been done before! d) The other problem I have is with Lara's pacing. It's clear he never considered a more aggressive declaration. With WI 4/449 at tea, day 2, and Lara 224* from 293 balls, THAT would have been a perfect time to accelerate for a late evening declaration. But Lara did not. It took him 289 more balls to get to 400 - so his back half was significantly slower than his front half. Not saying it's open and shut obvious, but if he'd sped up in that 2nd half, his case for NOT being selfish would be stronger.

  • Bharath on October 1, 2012, 7:52 GMT

    Some hidden/unknown gems there. For example, I didn't know about the 132 at Perth in 1996-97.

    If I hadn't been a hard-core SRT fan, I would have followed BCL's career a bit more un-grudgingly :) [[ Both are wonderful players. Nothing wrong in following both. Ananth: ]]

  • Chris Murphy on October 1, 2012, 7:58 GMT

    The finest batsman I have ever seen play the game.

    Not necessarily the most consistent, or the most reliable, but on his day no one who lifted a bat in the last 30 years could hold a candle to him.

  • Nitin Gautam on October 1, 2012, 7:59 GMT

    Anantha

    You mentioned "However unlike his fellow not-so-tall-legend" I could not understand the logic of this tongue in cheek comment. [[ I suggest re-read the same carefully. Both greats have been given credit by this statement. "In this matter he is exactly like his close friend". These are the words. Why twist the same. Ananth: ]] Clearly Lara played better at 3 than at 4 although he played more at 4 that at 3, so why to bring "equally tall probably taller" legend into the picture. [[ You seem to have a complex when it comes to SRT. This referred to their on-field behaviour. Ananth: ]] Re. 400, however it is defended it was more towards selfishness than an act of defiance by Lara. Your world XI will be yours & no one shud question that but Lara's inclusion is not as obvious as Don & Gilly. In modern batsmen..SRT has more chances on inclusion in any XI than BCL & I guess this will be true for most of the readers & I agree I can be wrong too.

    But again that will be your XI so no question. For me If I have to chose 1 among Lara & SRT, I would go for SRT.

  • isha on October 1, 2012, 8:02 GMT

    Awesome analysis Anantha Really impressed with your calulations for bringing out the unrecognized underrated aspect of a Legend For me he is certainly the most exciting and entertaining Batsman of all time. Still remember sitting overnight infront of the TV with my dad watching him facing Aussie Bowling Brigade including the likes of Warne,Mc Grath,Gillespie in 1999 and making an unbeaten 153 probably the best test inning the world ever have witnessed. There is always a kind of adventure when it comes to lara's batting performance unfortunatly he has always been the sole tagret of the opposition bowling attack but the way he keep proving himself is unbelievable.Always lead from the front facing the attack that eventualy cost his wicket and may be the reason of his low batting avarage ... Thanks a Lot

  • Harsh Thakor on October 1, 2012, 8:46 GMT

    A great effort Ananth.Even statistics do not do justice to Brian Lara who posessed more creative genius than any great batsman of the modern era. Lara's batting was a sight to behold whose strokeplay combined the ferocity of a tiger with the grace of a pianist and the imagination of a poet.Considering he bore the brunt of the weakest of batting sides I rate him the best left-handed batsman of all,above Pollock and Sobers.Had he played for a champion team he could have been the best West Indian batsman of all.At his best,Lara was marginally better than Sachin Tendulkar as a match winner and in a crisis.His best series run aggregates and highest individual scores testify this.

    What went against Lara was his lack of consistency in periods when Tendulkar scored above him,whoa also posessed superior grammar.Lara was also not as proficient against pace bowling as Viv Richards or Gary Sobers,although against spin bowling he was the best ever. [[ Would I be right in saying that no spinner troubled Lara consistently. Ananth: ]]

  • Dr. talha on October 1, 2012, 8:51 GMT

    @Ananath. No wonder the article is long..the guy has such amazing records. We cannot ignore any. @Nitin. Ur absolutely right brother. In my view his ODI record is even better. He has 11 ODI hundreds against Aus, Pak & SAF. Three top teams of 90's. Bowling attacks included Wasim, Waqar, Macgrath, Fleming, Donald, Pollock. Devillier etc. Cant get any better. Though he couldnt score a test hundred against wasim % waqar, in 7 test matches. But then, not many of the batting greats got 100's against the 2 W's, when both were playing.

  • Harsh Thakor on October 1, 2012, 8:56 GMT

    In pure test cricket Brian Lara's greatest rivals for the 2nd place to Bradman are Viv Richards,George Headley,Sachin Tendulkar and Gary Sobers.In many was Lara was the 'George Headley' of the modern era in terms of the average percentage score of the team's m total score as both batsman bore the brunt of the weakest of batting sides.However Headley is often ranked ahead being more consistent.

    Lara,may be arguably the best West Indian test batsman of all but still felt marginally short of Viv Richard's match-winning prowess who could turn the complexion of a game more than any batsman ever.Viv never cared for records and could have broken all of them if he wished to.

    Brian Lara's match performance ratings in your 2009 test batting analysis is ahead of Tendulkar and just nosing ahead of Viv and Ponting but I feel that playing for a weaker team elevated his rating.On wet tracks Headley and Hobbs were better masters.

  • Aparajith Shyam on October 1, 2012, 8:58 GMT

    Dear Ananth,

    A nice ode to certainly the most fascinating cricketer since Bradman. His 153* not out is the stuff of theatre. A lagaan-like climax. Two things that probably will never happen again. 1) A test average of 100 over a period of 50+ tests. 2) Another innings like 153* (An opposition having arguably the greatest fast-bowler duo and spinner, arguably the most compelling situations (target of 300 is more compelling than say a 500), fourth innings of test match, tailender desperately trying to stay not out, opposition's best bowler bowls magnificently, rasping shot to hit winning runs (not a scrambled single or overthrows), late evening finish, crowd mayhem etc.)

    Lara is competent in other fields as well 1) He is a qualified accountant (like a CA in india) 2) He was a competent footballer. (Played with likes of Dwight Yorke - former Man Utd) 3) Has won competitive golf tournaments His gift was the ability to focus and excel in whatever job he did. An eg. for us in excellence. [[ Thanks for the last few snippets. Ananth: ]]