Cricketers pick their favourites

The kid who was very, very good

Part three: Ian Chappell on the best centuries he has watched. No. 3: Brian Lara's first hundred, his 277 in Sydney (00:00)

Producer: Ranjit Shinde

July 31, 2012


Brian Lara, 277 v Australia, Sydney

The kid who was very, very good

July 31, 2012

Brian Lara bats during his innings of 277, Australia v West Indies, third Test, Sydney, January 4, 1993
Brian Lara: just kept hitting it into the gaps during his Sydney 277 © Getty Images

Brian Lara
277 v Australia, Sydney, 1993

In 1992-93, West Indies were in a bit of trouble in Australia. The first Test match they had scrambled out with a draw, very luckily. Then Shane Warne really came on the scene - he got seven wickets (in the second innings) in Melbourne, bowled Australia to victory. So West Indies were in trouble, 1-0 down. Third Test match, in Sydney, Australia made 500 runs in the first innings, so West Indies are in real trouble.

Brian Lara was a young bloke who I had seen a little bit of. He had come to Australia earlier for a series of one-day games just before the World Cup in 1991-92. Deryck Murray was the manager of that West Indies side, and after Brian had batted once or twice in the series, Deryck said to me, "Would you have a chat with Brian about his batting?" and I said, "Mate, I don't think there is much that needs to be said." Anyhow Deryck had asked me, and because we had played against each other a lot, I said okay.

So I chatted to Brian, and I said, "Look, the only thing I will say is that you hit a lot of good shots but you hit them straight to the fielders. You've got to hit them into the gaps, otherwise you are wasting a lot of energy and you are wasting a lot of runs." So he goes away, he comes back about a month later, West Indies play the World Cup, he gets 80-odd at the MCG - every ball he hit went into the gap. I thought to myself, "Here is a quick learner, this kid."

Anyhow, he came in at Sydney, West Indies were in a bit of strife. He got 277, he got run out… dopey call by Carl Hooper, and that's the only way Australia would have got him out. He did not look like getting out. And I thought to myself, "Here, this kid is going to get 300 easily." And I was really disappointed when he didn't because it was just a good innings, it deserved 300.

But the thing that stood out for me that day, there being a bit of rain in Sydney, and the outfield was quite heavy, and the thing that stood out was, Brian Lara hit 38 fours in that innings of 277, on a heavy outfield, and he didn't hit any sixes. He hit everything along the ground and he just kept hitting it in the gaps. I knew before that Lara was a pretty good player, but seeing that 277, I thought to myself - this guy is better than a pretty good player; he is a very, very good player.

I have always had Brian Lara slightly ahead of Sachin Tendulkar - the two great batsmen of their era - and the reason for that is that I guess I loved the way Lara played spin bowling. The way he used his feet, the way he placed the ball. I guess because I enjoyed playing spin bowling a lot myself that I just enjoyed watching Lara bat.

On this day, on a Sydney pitch that was turning a little bit, you had Warne, you had Greg Matthews in the Australian side, and he didn't look in any trouble at all. He used his feet beautifully, and that was the first time I thought to myself - this kid is a very, very good player.

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