Brian Lara October 30, 2008

The spectacular Mr Lara

When he was batting, grace and style were paramount, and anything seemed possible: there was no greater sight in cricket
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Lara: panache, flamboyance, unpredictability © AFP

You cannot discuss West Indies batting in the modern era without bringing up the names of Sir Vivian Richards and Brian Lara. I grew up watching Richards murder bowling attacks, chewing his ever-present gum with a swagger and arrogance all his own.

West Indian cricket has been a journey of thrills, fun, amazing peaks and disappointing troughs. For a team shackled with the burden of a heroic past, impeded in its development by wrangling within its cricket board, Brian Charles Lara has stood out and stood tall as one of the greatest batsmen the world has seen.

To an observer who is not West Indian, the Caribbean attitude is a strange one. Where most of us show immense emotion when confronted with challenges, many West Indian players hardly seem to change expression - whether they have won or lost, scored a duck or a hundred. This relaxed, laidback attitude, which has unfairly drawn huge criticism for being unsuitable to the pursuit of relentless success as styled by the Australians, has, however, succeeded in producing some of the most versatile and complete cricketers to have ever played the game. And that is exactly what Brian is: versatile and complete.

Like all great batsmen he has scored runs in every corner of the cricketing world against all the best attacks. What sets Brian apart from the other greats is the manner and attitude in which he wields the willow. There is panache; there is flamboyance, unpredictability, periods of consistent brilliance, and inexplicable runs of bad form. Never one to have been praised as a true team man, he single-handedly shouldered the burden of carrying West Indies' batting through a decade.

I have been unfortunate enough as a Sri Lanka cricketer to have witnessed him at his best at close quarters. The West Indian tour to Sri Lanka in November 2001 was The Brian Lara Show. In just six innings he scored 688 runs at 114.66, with three hundreds and a fifty. He did so at a time when Muttiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas were at their lethal best on Sri Lankan pitches that had bite, bounce, turn and reverse swing. Yet West Indies still lost 0-3.

Brian's technique and style are not orthodox. Though he starts with a beautifully balanced stance, he progresses into a flamboyant and outrageously high back-lift that would be a coaching book no-no. His initial movement seems to be a spilt step-jump that flings his body into the position required to play his shots. Although unorthodox, these two movements, coupled with a fantastic eye and even better hands, allow him to generate incredible bat speed and power at the moment of impact. His sometimes extravagant follow-through is the result of this bat speed. Many are the times when, though his feet are nowhere near the required position they should be in to play a shot, the correctness of his balance and head position frees his hands and allows them to catch up with the ball at the exact right moment.

He is also the most destructive player of spin I have seen. To my mind he is the only batsman to have effectively tamed the threat of Murali and dominated him and Shane Warne. Brian has all the cliché attributes of a great player of spin: a good eye, quick feet, the ability to read from the hand, and an attacking attitude, combined with the most solid of forward defences. But to my mind what truly sets him apart and makes him such a fine player of spin, better than the rest, is that he is not content to react to the bowler. He keeps challenging himself in the middle of an innings to exploit the one area of the field the bowler wants him to exploit. I have seen Murali turn the ball square across him, with no midwicket, enticing him to play against the turn, and I have seen Brian keep driving, flicking and sweeping into that one vacant spot. Doing it once or twice is comprehensible, but to watch him do it for an entire session, it made you raise your eyebrows in amazement and wonder.

His nemesis in international cricket for a long time was Glenn McGrath, whose success against Brian was based on his ability to exploit the angle of bowling around the wicket. When Glenn came around the wicket to Brian it was almost a given that he would edge to slip. This was a matter of hot debate in our dressing room: many are the times we have tried to replicate the strategy, many are the times I have watched other teams attempt to do so, both with no great continued success.

So the question remains: was it really the one technical chink in Brian's armour or was it McGrath's special ability? Murali, wanting an answer, in his own direct and engagingly blunt fashion asked Brian himself when we were having dinner together at Mahaweli Reach in Kandy once. "Brian," Murali said, "why are you getting out all the time to McGrath?" Brian's answer was: "Murali, I have to get out somehow, and if I get out to McGrath, so what, it does not bother me." He simply did not believe there was a problem.

This was a personality trait that helped make Brian so successful. The situation of a match did not seem to bother him - the pressure, the expectations, his form; it just didn¹t seem to prey on his mind. Brian played as if for the moment. Each ball a fresh start, each stroke unhindered by the immediate past. He always believed that his ability would triumph. It is a degree of self-awareness and self-confidence that is extremely hard to achieve.

 
 
The situation of a match did not seem to bother him - the pressure, the expectations, his form; it just didn¹t seem to prey on his mind. Brian played as if for the moment. Each ball a fresh start, each stroke unhindered by the immediate past
 

Maybe it was this, too, that undermined his effectiveness as a leader and allowed the perception to develop that he was not always a total team man. I cannot be sure this was the case, not having shared a dressing room with him. I question whether being so much better than the rest made it hard for him to relate properly to the lesser players in the team. Although he was certainly an astute and intelligent captain, he struggled to get full team cooperation and respect. It is hard to drag a team along that does not fully believe in you.

One question mark I have in my mind about Brian is: why the bad periods? He was brilliant, but he could also be inconsistent. On song, unstoppable; but there were times when he struggled badly. Technically he didn't change all that much through his career. It could just be that he couldn't synchronise his back-lift and exaggerated trigger movement. He needed rhythm as a batsman.

If you assess his achievements, he undisputedly ranks at the very top - 501 in first-class cricket for Warwickshire, 375 not out and then 400 not out in Test cricket; the highest run-scorer in world cricket for years until Tendulkar pipped him recently. That he achieved most of these feats when the opposition was swarming all over his team is remarkable.

However, perhaps the true value of Brian was his entertainment power. Whatever he did on the field he did with style and grace. He was not just a cricketer, he was a performer. There have been many great players, but few with the same ability to thrill a crowd. With Brian batting, the record books were constantly threatened. Every game had the potential to produce something amazing. When he was batting well, there was no greater sight in world cricket.

Captain of the Sri Lanka cricket team

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • rambarat on October 31, 2008, 23:47 GMT

    Thank you Sangakkara for acknowledging a true genius. I am saddened by the absurd comparison with Tendulkar. Brian has a gift to the cricketing world. I have seen many of the greats and Brian is truly a once in a lifetime genius.

  • dman153 on October 31, 2008, 23:45 GMT

    After all the years of watching Brian Lara one thing has always stood out about him.No matter his score,his side's score or the situation of the game Brian Lara always walked when he was out or when he thought he was out.I have actually witnessed a lot of the modern day greats eg(Sachin Tendulkar,Ricky Ponting) standing their ground when they were out,with the third umpire replays clearly showing they were out. I remember back in 1991 playing for Trinidad & Tobago against the touring Australian side,Brian was on 91 when the Austrialia wicket keeper picked his bails and Brian walked even though the umpire said he was not out.Lara continued to to show his character up until his retirement when on his last tour of Australia he was given out at least five times when replays showed otherwise. Apart from his batting genius Lara should also be remembered for his sportsmanlike conduct!

  • lobster_man on October 31, 2008, 15:53 GMT

    A player's role is to win matches for his team. You need to compare the matches Tendulkar won for India with the ones Lara won for WI. There is no comparison: it's Lara and Tendulkar's record when it comes to winning is miserable.

  • roman_trini on October 31, 2008, 14:48 GMT

    Lara did not make 375 NOT OUT. Unfortunately he was made to continue batting, as tired as he was, until he edged a ball from Caddick. Still bugs me that he was not allowed to finish 'not out' in that innings.

  • prashant1 on October 31, 2008, 9:09 GMT

    Best batsman of the generation :Sachin Tendulkar. No doubt about that whatsoever. Very entertaining (in patches): Lara. Further ,some ppl in here seem to be incorrectly using databases such as statsguru.As an eg: If tendulkar scores a hundred against an australian attack with mcgrath in it,but then gets dismissed by some other bowler...the runs against mcgrath aren't counted.

  • Theena on October 31, 2008, 8:02 GMT

    (Contd)

    The facts are plain: he scored 600 odd runs in that series, almost 200 more than the second best batsmen in that series (Hashan Thilakaratne), dominated Murali and Vaas (who was the highest wicket taker in the series), and yet, inexcusably, West Indies were whitewashed. As a Sri Lankan supporter (and a fan of Hashan's batting), I was thrilled at the results; but the longer the series went, the more I wished for some form of justice for Lara.

  • Theena on October 31, 2008, 8:02 GMT

    I count myself privileged to have lived in the era of five cricketing geniuses, three of whom are bowlers and two batsmen. Lara, though, was unlike any other. Everything about him - from his coming to the middle, bat in hand, to the stance, to that other-worldly backlift, and that stunning cover drive - had the touch of the divine. And this is coming from a godless child.

    That 2001 series you speak of was an exhibition in mind-blowing batsmanship. When Lara walked in, inevitably when the openers had fallen early to Vaas, you got the feeling that you were watching someone whose skills, mental fortitude and self-belief was from a different planet - such was the gulf that he established between himself and his team-mates, such was the gulf that he established between himself and members of the opposition who had similar job descriptions as his.

    (Contd)

  • Baton100 on October 31, 2008, 6:30 GMT

    I think it's not fair for the article to compare people...but since lot of them curious, I think statistics are the benchmark to differntiate the two. How many times Brian had to fight out against the best bowling unit in the world.,Australians(including McGrath). & why India couldn't win a world cup after coming so close...because their best batsmen, Tendulkar couldn't deliver when it needed..how many times Australians got out him on big occasions consistantly, Lara never had a weakness, in-spite some bad patches. I don't think it's hard thing for him to score 15,000 ODI runs if he got chance to open the innings. Someone said Lara never faced good pace attack...When his final tour to Pakistan, he had never scored a century in Pakistan before, he did it in his last tour against bowlers like Umar Gul, Asif, Akthar & co. do you think that's not a good attack? In fact his first major impact came against Pakistan in '92 World Cup when he & Haynes put together 200+ record partnership.

  • ZA77 on October 31, 2008, 4:13 GMT

    At home, Lara runs per inning against England is 71.46 with 3 centuries and 5 half centuries with two highest scores 400 and 375 runs which is even more than Bradman's runs per inning at home versus England that is 71.33 with highest scores 270 and 234. Imagine if he had face England at home in 1930s and 40s what he could do with them in timeless test matches on matt over concrete pitches. He has the greatest tendency to score big individual innings. Presence of professional bowlers as more than 50 bowlers took 100 or more than 100 wickets in which 25-30 bowlers took more than 200 wickets in their test career that he had ever faced in test cricket in which eleven are related to 300 club and again seven to 400 and four to 500 club. For top ten leading wikcet takers, eight of them are related to his era. Lara played on 45-50 different pitches in his whole career. Bradman played on ten pitches with six bowlers took more than 100 wkt. I think Lara is the best in test history including all.

  • melayaraja on October 31, 2008, 2:42 GMT

    For all those people comparing Lara and Sachin against Mcgrath: (Note: Stats was pulled out using cricinfo's statsguru)

    ODI's: Sachin Vs Aus team with Mcgrath : avg of 36.00 avg with 2 centuries in 23 matches Lara vs Aus team with Mcgrath: avg of 44.12 with 2 centuries in 28 matches

    Tests: Sachin vs McGrath: 9-Matches 662(Runs) 126(HS) 36.77(avg) 2(100's) Lara Vs Mcgrath: 24-Matches 2041-Runs 226(highest score) 46.38 (avg) 6 (100's)

  • rambarat on October 31, 2008, 23:47 GMT

    Thank you Sangakkara for acknowledging a true genius. I am saddened by the absurd comparison with Tendulkar. Brian has a gift to the cricketing world. I have seen many of the greats and Brian is truly a once in a lifetime genius.

  • dman153 on October 31, 2008, 23:45 GMT

    After all the years of watching Brian Lara one thing has always stood out about him.No matter his score,his side's score or the situation of the game Brian Lara always walked when he was out or when he thought he was out.I have actually witnessed a lot of the modern day greats eg(Sachin Tendulkar,Ricky Ponting) standing their ground when they were out,with the third umpire replays clearly showing they were out. I remember back in 1991 playing for Trinidad & Tobago against the touring Australian side,Brian was on 91 when the Austrialia wicket keeper picked his bails and Brian walked even though the umpire said he was not out.Lara continued to to show his character up until his retirement when on his last tour of Australia he was given out at least five times when replays showed otherwise. Apart from his batting genius Lara should also be remembered for his sportsmanlike conduct!

  • lobster_man on October 31, 2008, 15:53 GMT

    A player's role is to win matches for his team. You need to compare the matches Tendulkar won for India with the ones Lara won for WI. There is no comparison: it's Lara and Tendulkar's record when it comes to winning is miserable.

  • roman_trini on October 31, 2008, 14:48 GMT

    Lara did not make 375 NOT OUT. Unfortunately he was made to continue batting, as tired as he was, until he edged a ball from Caddick. Still bugs me that he was not allowed to finish 'not out' in that innings.

  • prashant1 on October 31, 2008, 9:09 GMT

    Best batsman of the generation :Sachin Tendulkar. No doubt about that whatsoever. Very entertaining (in patches): Lara. Further ,some ppl in here seem to be incorrectly using databases such as statsguru.As an eg: If tendulkar scores a hundred against an australian attack with mcgrath in it,but then gets dismissed by some other bowler...the runs against mcgrath aren't counted.

  • Theena on October 31, 2008, 8:02 GMT

    (Contd)

    The facts are plain: he scored 600 odd runs in that series, almost 200 more than the second best batsmen in that series (Hashan Thilakaratne), dominated Murali and Vaas (who was the highest wicket taker in the series), and yet, inexcusably, West Indies were whitewashed. As a Sri Lankan supporter (and a fan of Hashan's batting), I was thrilled at the results; but the longer the series went, the more I wished for some form of justice for Lara.

  • Theena on October 31, 2008, 8:02 GMT

    I count myself privileged to have lived in the era of five cricketing geniuses, three of whom are bowlers and two batsmen. Lara, though, was unlike any other. Everything about him - from his coming to the middle, bat in hand, to the stance, to that other-worldly backlift, and that stunning cover drive - had the touch of the divine. And this is coming from a godless child.

    That 2001 series you speak of was an exhibition in mind-blowing batsmanship. When Lara walked in, inevitably when the openers had fallen early to Vaas, you got the feeling that you were watching someone whose skills, mental fortitude and self-belief was from a different planet - such was the gulf that he established between himself and his team-mates, such was the gulf that he established between himself and members of the opposition who had similar job descriptions as his.

    (Contd)

  • Baton100 on October 31, 2008, 6:30 GMT

    I think it's not fair for the article to compare people...but since lot of them curious, I think statistics are the benchmark to differntiate the two. How many times Brian had to fight out against the best bowling unit in the world.,Australians(including McGrath). & why India couldn't win a world cup after coming so close...because their best batsmen, Tendulkar couldn't deliver when it needed..how many times Australians got out him on big occasions consistantly, Lara never had a weakness, in-spite some bad patches. I don't think it's hard thing for him to score 15,000 ODI runs if he got chance to open the innings. Someone said Lara never faced good pace attack...When his final tour to Pakistan, he had never scored a century in Pakistan before, he did it in his last tour against bowlers like Umar Gul, Asif, Akthar & co. do you think that's not a good attack? In fact his first major impact came against Pakistan in '92 World Cup when he & Haynes put together 200+ record partnership.

  • ZA77 on October 31, 2008, 4:13 GMT

    At home, Lara runs per inning against England is 71.46 with 3 centuries and 5 half centuries with two highest scores 400 and 375 runs which is even more than Bradman's runs per inning at home versus England that is 71.33 with highest scores 270 and 234. Imagine if he had face England at home in 1930s and 40s what he could do with them in timeless test matches on matt over concrete pitches. He has the greatest tendency to score big individual innings. Presence of professional bowlers as more than 50 bowlers took 100 or more than 100 wickets in which 25-30 bowlers took more than 200 wickets in their test career that he had ever faced in test cricket in which eleven are related to 300 club and again seven to 400 and four to 500 club. For top ten leading wikcet takers, eight of them are related to his era. Lara played on 45-50 different pitches in his whole career. Bradman played on ten pitches with six bowlers took more than 100 wkt. I think Lara is the best in test history including all.

  • melayaraja on October 31, 2008, 2:42 GMT

    For all those people comparing Lara and Sachin against Mcgrath: (Note: Stats was pulled out using cricinfo's statsguru)

    ODI's: Sachin Vs Aus team with Mcgrath : avg of 36.00 avg with 2 centuries in 23 matches Lara vs Aus team with Mcgrath: avg of 44.12 with 2 centuries in 28 matches

    Tests: Sachin vs McGrath: 9-Matches 662(Runs) 126(HS) 36.77(avg) 2(100's) Lara Vs Mcgrath: 24-Matches 2041-Runs 226(highest score) 46.38 (avg) 6 (100's)

  • Superbat on October 31, 2008, 2:28 GMT

    Thank You Kumar For A Super Piece Of Cricket Writting. Your English Is Just Fantastic. It's Like Watching Lara Play. Proud To Be A Sri Lankan. Yes Both Lara & Sachin Are The Greatest Batsman. Both Are Equally Talented. But Lara Has The Edge Where Entertainment Is Concerned. When Lara Is Batting Anything Can Happen, He Always Does The Impossible. He Is The Best Batsman Against Spin. I'll Never Forget How He Punished Murali In 2001, It's Just Amazing. His Stance Is Beautiful. He Has More Time To Play The Strokes. No Bowler Can Keep Him Tied Down. He Always Like To Dominate. No Words Can Describe Him Further. Once Sachin Retires, I Don't Think There Will Any More Lara's Or Sachin's. I Salute Lara For The Great Entertainment!

  • melayaraja on October 31, 2008, 2:22 GMT

    This comment is in reply to shobhitkukreti : Lara stats should never be compared with Sachin's in ODI format. I agree Sachin is by far the most superior in the ODI against anyone in his playing days. But when we check Lara's stats, he has played nearly 120 games less than Tendulkar. Also, Sachin got the chance to utilise the complete 50 overs where as Lara gave it up to the younger players in his later stages and batted in number 4 position most of the time where he did not have enough overs to score and does not have the time to start an innings as an opener does.

    The stats given by SSJUMBO, was the averages of all big players when they played Aus team which included Mcgrath.

    Elayaraja Muthuswamy.

  • Raaid on October 30, 2008, 23:58 GMT

    When it comes to cricket and cricket there is no other person to talk about than the great BRIAN CHARLES LARA aka BC.

  • SoftwareStar on October 30, 2008, 23:22 GMT

    I remember the night before one of my major engineering exams. I kept my books in front of me and thought, "lets just watch for some time".. but i ended up watching the whole night!! (nighttime in India = daytime in WI) and not a single page of my books were flipped. It was his 213 against Aus, where he and Adams played out the entire day from 37/4 to 377/4... the run out chance on 99, 4 consecutive boundaries off Blewett to move to 199 and people jumping from the stands to cheer his 200.. are things i will never forget! (i did pretty ok in my paper too) and next came his 153* !! and then a 100 in 84 balls! whew!

    other memories include our family sitting and watching him bat in the wee hours of the night.. me sitting in the same 'good luck' position through out the whole innings..

    thank you Sir Brian Lara for all the memories and thank you Sangakkara for helping me re-live these wonderful memories through this wonderful article!

  • Andrew_Sam on October 30, 2008, 22:09 GMT

    Brian Oh Brian!!! Anyone who saw the 153 he scored against the Aussie attack at it's very very best, will always live to tell Brian was magic. I am from India by the way. The best player of spin by a huge margin. I remember an innings when Graeme Smith held back a left arm spinner for a whole day and then when he came into the attack, (probably the last over of the day) he smacked him for 28 runs in an over and he never came back until Brian was finally out for 196. Nobody did that to a bowler in my 20 odd years of watching cricket. Stats apart, Brian had magic & genius, Sachin had consistency, technique and focus. But for shear magic and genius at the crease... it was Brian by a huge margin. And to do all that almost always in a losing team, I don't know who else has done that. Brian I miss you at the crease... the magic ain't there anymore!! The way you whipped Shane Warne to midwicket for six, the jump pull of yours and the flourishing cuts and drives... You certainly entertained us

  • thesoccergod on October 30, 2008, 21:21 GMT

    A very well written article.

    Yes, Lara was a performer: and a nonpareil one at that. If ever I have "oohed and aahed"--with the strange mixture of amazement and rapture that is the lot of an lesser witness--it was at Lara's extravagantly elegant strokes.

    Beginning with the flurry of his initial "step-back, jump-forward" movement, to the exaggerated backlift that punctuated a dreamy off-drive (or a half-bludgeoned, half-caressed square cut), to the visceral joy I felt watching the stroke unfold; his batting was a sight of beauty. Never did it seem like he could fail; never ever did I want him to fail. For to bear witness to his batsmanship was to lose myself in the aesthetics of cricket; to surrender myself to a work of art that, ineffably, allowed me to transcend the mundaneness of the moment.

    Indeed, the tingles that pass over me every time I revisit his famous 153* (and his hitting the winning runs) are among my favorite sensations...

  • eddy501 on October 30, 2008, 20:56 GMT

    A reply to 'ssjumbo's' question at where a got my stats from. Simply pull up any player from cricinfo's huge data base, go into the statsguru and select 'batting formats' followed by 'bowler summary' and you can see every single bowler that removed a batsman over their career.

    regards eddy

  • Riddhaya on October 30, 2008, 20:40 GMT

    I completely agree with ssjumbo; unfortunately it's quite difficult to pull up statistics for a batsman against a bowler than the other way round. While people may notice his extra-ordinary strength against legendary spinners as Murali or Warne, I do not think he had any weakness against any form of bowling. Remember that most of his records are against Australia and England, pace-based attacks. If one is to find a weakness in him as a batsman, and I hardly believe he had any, it would be probably his lack of consistency at points in his career. Other than that, no matter if he holds a single record or not, he will be the greatest batsman I have seen playing. And its just unfair to judge him on the basis of statistics, runs and averages, because none like Lara had produced magnificent match-winning innings against the greatest bowlers in most difficult of situations.

  • vaidyar on October 30, 2008, 19:54 GMT

    Nice article and a nice initiative from cricinfo to get a current player to write about other players...and who better than KS. One innings that I'll remember forever was the 153* against Australia as he waged a lone battle with only the tail for support. It was simply amazing the way he carted almost every ball he faced to the boundary as wickets fell around him... One of the best test matches ever!

  • Gino2814 on October 30, 2008, 18:56 GMT

    This is very refreshing to read an article that is written about the genius of Brian Lara, especially by another cricketer. The McGrath factor wasn't all that, ít was just Brain trying to over compensate and get after McGrath a bit to early in his innings. Brian Lara encompasses the attributes of the four pillars of West Indies cricket. 1). He carried the batting like George Headley 2). He was diplomatic and inspirational like Sir Frank Worrell 3). He had the back-lift like Sir Gary Sobers 4). He had the swagger like Sir Viv Richards. These attributes definately the hallmark of Lara. He , i beleive, like Don Bradman are the only two players to ever hold records for most runs, most hundreds and highest test score all at once. Food for thought?

  • sachinlarafan4ever on October 30, 2008, 18:31 GMT

    Nice Article Kumar. No one else can enjoy (or suffer) the beauty of a brilliant innins than the Wicket keeper. When the words come from you it is better than live commentary. To have seen them both play at such close quarters should have been enough learning experience for you and to top it all you play as good as any other player. Keep up the good work with both pen and the bat. I would give whatever I can to see a Lara-Sachin contest where both of them are at their peak. But time goes on!! For me they are the best batsmen of 90s and early 2000s. There will be new players coming up time and again but not a Sachin or Lara for the sheer brilliance and the entertainment they provided. Sachin might be in his last lap or may be couple more to go. But he does not have a competition now. Ponting may be good but he is not from Sachin's generation. With Lara Sachin lost a real competitor. Thanks again for your wonderful article!

  • shobhitkukreti on October 30, 2008, 18:03 GMT

    SSJUMBO, get ur figures right, Tendulkar has an average in 50's against Aussie, You singled out Tendulkar against McGrath, why did u forget to ad Brians tally, Sachin scored above 2000 runs against aussies in test cricket, hittin centuries in Australia against bowlers like Merv Hughes on bouncy tracks, how much did Brian score there ??Patrick-Maracas, the way Sachin dominated Australia , can ever Lara reach that pinnacle, you comparing boundaries and sixes scored, can you even remotely compare Lara with Sachin in the ODI format??Sachin has around 190 international wickets to his name as a bowler,how many does Lara have?Sachin has 39 Test centuries,Lara has 34, Sachin has always had a better average than Lara, so by Stats, you are loosing far behind in defending Lara.Lara was a treat to watch for his flamboyance, but his time is over now.Sachin has always had a better technique,better player of pace bowling and Warne has been quoted numerous time,that Sachin is the greatest of his time.

  • DeveshTiw on October 30, 2008, 17:58 GMT

    I like Sachin more than Lara & I am ready to compare them any day if challenged but I would prefer we don't do that. Watching Lara bat has been a great honour.

  • 50star on October 30, 2008, 17:45 GMT

    The Legendary Brian Lara was ssecond to no batsman on this earth and although Sachin Tendulkar is a great batsman he is nowhere near Lara's Class, and the gap is so wide, maybe we have to wait for a century to see another who could be classified as a better player of spin. Great article Sangakarra thank you my friend.

  • Parth_Pala on October 30, 2008, 16:37 GMT

    Nice insightful article from a cricketer. I think all journalists and writers should learn from Sangakaraa on what it means to write a true fair dis-passionate yet passionate article.

    Once again thank you KS and keep writing you are among the 203 writers on cricinfo which never get dis-agreements and are appreciated by all cricketing lovers something truly to be proud of

  • larafan400 on October 30, 2008, 16:25 GMT

    Kumar, I think your last three paragraphs sums up Brian Lara perfectly. Undoubtedly for me, and for many others I'm sure, he's been by far and away the greatest entertainer I've ever witnessed with a bat in his hands and capable of feats no one else could dream of acheiving when on top form. Yes unfortunately there were the periods of low scores he went through, but this is only because of the way he played; always aggressive, always looking to take on and dominate the bowler whoever that may be, and wrest the initiative back in the West Indies favour. Heck, I would rather watch a Lara 50 over a 100 by any other batsman simply because of how perfectly compiled you know those runs will have been. A bit of cricket died for me when Lara decided to call it a day, but hey, I'm sure we will see another like him eventually even if it's not in our lifetimes.

  • Dac9 on October 30, 2008, 15:17 GMT

    Lara is undoubtedly one of the best batsmen ever with his huge scores, 501, 400, 375 and of course his 277 many many years ago. Thanks for bringing back the memories Mr.Sangakkara, brilliant article, very insightful and thanks also for your entertaining batting but when playing against the West Indies, please continue your form of the last tour, no big scores :-)

  • Patrick-Maracas on October 30, 2008, 15:00 GMT

    Brian Lara Prince of Port of Spain,but when it came to his batting he was the King.Just to put things in perspectives when he retired(because of pressure from the selectors)he had the Most Runs in Test Cricket in 131 Test,Sachin broke it in 146 Test.Highest Individual Score in Test and First Class,and only 1 Century less than Sachin, He has the highest score as a Captain.Sachin unbeaten 248 against Bangladesh.Lara broke the record against England,Hayden against Zimbabwe,then Lara again against a better English attack.Still holds the records for most 4's 1559 Sachin 2nd 1552.Most 6's in Test 88 2nd to Gilchrist.I believe Lara has a record that will never be broken which is the only player to hold the record for Most Runs,Highest Individual Score in Test and First Class and most 4's and Highest score as a Captain all at one time.We have to admit we all have our favorites,whether that favoritism is based on Nationality,ethnicity,style.statistics or a combination of these and other factors

  • wicketman on October 30, 2008, 14:53 GMT

    I believe Brian Lara to be the best player of spin bowling of his era. Also the best batsmen playing on batting wickets simply because he has a hunger for runs and the temperament to play long innings. He falters in his ability to play crucial innings on more difficult surfaces. Also, he is not as adept at playing fast bowling as Sachin Tendulkar. Lara's test centuries against Pakistan and South Africa came when Akram, Younis had retired and Shoaib was injured and Allan Donald had retired. Does anyone remember West Indies 5-0 thrashing in the late nineties in South Africa when he was at his peak -He was made to look quite ordinary. Even so, a batsmen to certainly watch, but not the best

  • deadprivacyz on October 30, 2008, 14:47 GMT

    yup totally agree with this article. Glen Magrath was not Lara's weakness it was his strength remember his 277 in Sydney.

  • Prashanth.shivappa on October 30, 2008, 14:46 GMT

    Was really happy to read one more fine article from Sangakara. Your writing abilities are as gud as your batting abilities. :).. I am one of those lucky people to have witnessed the Lara and the Sachin era. Two different kind of players but what they have achieved in their careers are similar. Reaching the highest peaks, they were the best in business. These 2 names will be remembered for a long long time to come. We are surely missing lara's high back lifts his shuffle in the crease his charge down the pitch to spiners.. ahhhh wasnt it a treat to watch ??? looking fwd to more articles from sangakara the writer.. the below lines were very nice.. Murali, wanting an answer, in his own direct and engagingly blunt fashion asked Brian himself when we were having dinner together at Mahaweli Reach in Kandy once. "Brian," Murali said, "why are you getting out all the time to McGrath?".. and the reply from Lara was smart !!

  • kingishere on October 30, 2008, 14:22 GMT

    Thank You Sanga for such a wonderful article. Its a wonderful tribute the the Prince of Trindad. Truely Lara was just Brilliant. He was one of the reason for me to be a crazy cricket fan. How can anybody forget that marvellous ininings of 153* which is considered as the all time best ininges in test cricket. We might have a lot of cricketers scoring centuries after centuries but Lara was special his shots and complete control is just unmatchable........Thanks Brian Charles Lara for giving the fans across the globe some of the unforgetable moments in cricket history.

  • rizwan56 on October 30, 2008, 13:27 GMT

    I completely agree with sangakara.i regard Lara as the greastest batsman in the modern era. i rate him higher than sachin simply because of his abililty to play long innings. it speaks a lot about the calibre of the batsman.it requires tremendous amount of concentration and physical fitness as rightly pointed out sangakara.

  • ssjumbo on October 30, 2008, 13:01 GMT

    Hi Eddy501,

    I am a huge Lara fan. WHere did you get this statistics from?

    'And finally,It is true that McGrath did dismiss Lara many times (15) but he did still manage a 41.40 average against the Aussie. This should be compared to Tendulkar's 22.16 avg against McGrath, Dravids 10.00, and Kallis' 9.83.'

  • sgisaac on October 30, 2008, 12:35 GMT

    I agree 100% with you Sanga. What separates Lara from the other modern greats like Sachin and Ponting is his entertainment value. There have been many great batsmen but who can really thrill a crowd like BC Lara. His shots are audacious and because of his high back lift they just seem so much more exciting. He also refuses to be dominated by bowlers, so much so that when he is struggling and not scoring quickly as a spectator you just know that something exciting is about to happen. Lara is truly a legend among legends.

  • CricketCrazy19 on October 30, 2008, 12:06 GMT

    @cricketsince1996 Hey, you missed the great sanga himself..

  • pakistanicricketlover on October 30, 2008, 11:33 GMT

    A true legend, one of the greatest players in the history of the game. A batsmen who always performed. Brian Lara the man who took the game to a next level.

  • eddy501 on October 30, 2008, 10:31 GMT

    I never thought i would see a player to delight or amaze me like the great Sir Viv, that was until Lara came on the scene. Sanga your comments knock the nail on the head. His runs scored and hundreds made are comparable with Tendulkar and Ponting, but really what serparates him from the rest (even Sir VIv) is the truely amazing innings he produced. The the record breaking 375 and ten years later 400*. Sanga, Jaya and Jayaw all must appreciate how hard it is to break the record being so close themselves..but Lara did it twice. Surely the 400* is the greatest example of concentration, stamina and focused batting ever. Lara's 153* is regarded as technically the greastest single test inning. And finally,It is true that McGrath did dismiss Lara many times (15) but he did still manage a 41.40 average against the Aussie. This should be compared to Tendulkar's 22.16 avg against McGrath, Dravids 10.00, and Kallis' 9.83. Of course Ponting never had to face McGrath or Warne! Lara rules!

  • cricketsince1996 on October 30, 2008, 9:37 GMT

    hi sanga. you are right 'lara is spectacular' for his bating as well as his nature, but now lara's time has gone and we are in virender sehwag, mohammed yousef, kevin piterson time. but one thing i am saying to you. 'future cricketer' learn cricket (batting) from lara and lara's batting and may be this will make lots of lara.

  • goutham.chakravarthi on October 30, 2008, 9:00 GMT

    Lara was a great favourite across the world and even more so in India for he seemed to be the only one to take on Australia single handedly after Tendulkar. It's a great shame that he couldn't make it to India on a couple of tours owing to injury and self imposed hiatus from the game. He was the best and most destructive player of spin bowling of his era, a mantle that lies with Sehwag today. He was simply the greatest entertainer of his time along with Warne and Jayasuriya

  • nick_japan_2007 on October 30, 2008, 8:22 GMT

    I'll never forget a world series game against Australia where Lara was struggled to 20 off about 80 balls. The vaunted line-up for former Aussie cricketers who try to pass themselves off as commentators were lining up to rip into him for not being able to get going. Well he went, his nex 65 runs came from about 30 balls and the Windies coasted home much to the delight of a 9-year old fan and to the great dismay of B. Lawrie.

  • Dinrosh on October 30, 2008, 7:50 GMT

    The way lara dominated that entire tour was unbelivable because in that perticular not only murali also vass came in to party by introducing his rever swing. i think vass set a record in that series by showing second best fast bowling performance in subcontinent after another great from pakistan of imran khan. in that tour Lara started with big ton at galle then in kandy also he dominated the bowling. i had the oppertunity to watch that final test match in that tour which was playd at the SSC, it was truly amaizing the way he dominated murali's masterfull spin and vassi's reverswing and yet he scored double ton in the first innings and another hundred in the second innings. that was the time which another great left hander came into the seen. he's name is non other then Kumar sangakkara. Thanks Mr. brian Lara and Thanks Mr. Kumar sangakkara. im a great fan of sri lankan cricket.

  • Baton100 on October 30, 2008, 7:31 GMT

    I must say this article was well wriiten than his(Sangas) batting! I think only Murali is enough for classified Lara....at that time 2001 Sri Lankan tour even international teams feared to tour Sri Lanka because of Murali, specially with his new weapon Doosra.,not to forget Vaass' form. I think if there wasn't Vaas, Lara would have score even more. And it wasn't the only time Lara destroyed Murali. When Sri Lanka visit WI he did the same. I believe no batsman can do that considering the form Murali was in at that time.

  • srbohra on October 30, 2008, 7:22 GMT

    Dear sangakkara i do agree with u to the extent u hv written but unfortunately u missed to discribe major part of Lara's batting ability, one is he is only player in the world cricket,can hit spinners consistantly along the ground and most of the time alowing the ball to spin almost completely after pitching that needs tons of confidance in ur own ability and i think i can give answer why he was getting out to macgra, cause Lara is below average players while playing first 10-15 balls due to his excessive shuffling across the line and macgra is too acurate in line and tremendous control on hight at he wants to bowl.

  • Subra on October 30, 2008, 6:48 GMT

    Thank you Kumara for yet another fine offering and eagerly awaiting the next instalments and hoping that there would another century from you in the form of articles on the great players of your time.

    Yes Lara, what magic that name carries = he was majestic - yet he batted as if it was so easy and surely must have wondered why his colleagues were having difficulty.

    Towards the end he was carrying the entire burden of the team on his shoulders and I dare say that if he had the support of four other greats he would have carried on for a few more years.

    Thank you Brian and thank you Kumara.

    Siva from Singapore

  • DONSILVA on October 30, 2008, 6:32 GMT

    Great tribute from one of the emerging left handlers to the greatest one lived up to this stage. I feel Brain has missed at least 10-15 test matches during his carrier due to differences he had with the Cricketing authorities. If he would have played in these matches neither Tendulkar nor Pontin could ever get the chance to think about breaking the record for highest run getters position. Remarkably most of the runs came when the chips were down and he was the main and only barrier for the opposition. Record would have been even superior and could be closer to Bradmens height if he was lucky enough to play in a country where the administrations have real support and influenced over their Prime stats, with better effort and commitment from his part. Undoubted he is the most gifted cricketer the world has ever witnessed.

  • prashant1 on October 30, 2008, 5:38 GMT

    Just wanted to confirm if murali had developed his "doosra" by 2001. He was still bowling offcutters as far as i remember.

  • Mrkandy on October 30, 2008, 5:06 GMT

    What can i say. Lara, i love to see him batting specially against the English and certainly not against Sri Lanka. I can recall the series Sanga had mentioned, truely amazing. Lara made the high riding Murali as a amateur. A player with class. And coming to Sanga we see your getting better and better everyday with your writing and gonna be on the box seat at Hongkong six's but you should be getting runs that what we want most. We are thankful for what you have done but its never enough. Show your class mate and show where your from and what you have been brought up with.

  • Akash.Sethi on October 30, 2008, 5:05 GMT

    That is so true... Brian Charles Lara undoubtedly is on of the greatest batsman ever... He would only be second or equal to Sachin Tendulkar in all time greatest batsmen... For Lara he was always single handedly responsible for saving the West Indies from many many down falls... He would have done more wonders if he would not have to bat with the tail enders all the time. If he had some support on the other side (often which was not the case), he would have achieved a lot more... ---- An Indian Fan of Brian Charles Lara

  • maddy_cric on October 30, 2008, 4:30 GMT

    Absolutely no doubt that he is the greatest test batsman that I have seen..his handling of spin and the fact that he never sacrificed his aggressive style even when his team was in the doldrums sets him apart..a thorough entertainer!!

  • Arijit_in_TO on October 30, 2008, 4:30 GMT

    The best Test batsmen of his generation. Once he was set, he would not get out. I was lucky enough to have an unknown named Brian Lara sign my cricket bat when he was with the then still mighty West Indians for an exhibiton match. That item is something I shall always treasure. I only wish he had toured India more than he did as that nation was deprived of seeing more of this special talent. He does not have the ODI record of his contemporaries but his innings against South Africa in 1996 WC Quarter Final showed how great he was. He found the gap every time - no slogging required.

  • The_other_side on October 30, 2008, 4:18 GMT

    This article from KS is particularly special because in my opinion the series that KS speaks mentioning is one where Murali was not just tamed but dominated. His thoughts about Lara's technique is very interesting and goes to show coaching manuals are for lesser mortals.It is easier to imagine Lara as a ballet dancer performing war dance on a cricket field.

  • SHANTIRATNAM on October 30, 2008, 4:06 GMT

    Well said Mr.Sangakara. Brian Lara, maintained his status as a star batsman right through out his career, no bolwer felt, that Bria'ns era was over at an stage. No bowler had a fixed plan that always worked to get rid of Lara. He always reflected confidence in him each time he walked out to bat under any kind of circumstances. Lara would have achived more if he had another bunch of ten players in the same class as those played in the time when West Indies were the most awesome cricket team in the world, which goes to prove cricket is a team game, nobody is bigger than the game itself.

  • sachin-is-god on October 30, 2008, 4:04 GMT

    I believe no words in this world could describe the way Brian played.. still I wonder why so many people attempt to do that all the time.

  • The_other_side on October 30, 2008, 3:58 GMT

    Lara is the best batsman I have seen. Although I always believed Tendulkar had the temperament and technique, the instinct to dominate is where Lara stands out. Lara, I think is better than IVA Richards and I was lucky to watch at least 10 international centuries of Lara including the 3 against drawn series against Australia. This article by a famous batsman like Kumara Sangakkara shows the awe with which Lara is looked up all over the world. Lara was not very good against India but some of his innings against others have been breath taking. There is this propensity to hit the ball in the air that makes the game more exciting. I still cant forget the manner in which he dismissed Pietersen of South Africa for 28 runs. In 1997 WI were touring Australia and he kept getting out to McGrath. Then came final Perth test and Lara walked in to face first ball from McGrath. Lara middled the first ball in a forward defensive stroke and went on to score 132. Only great people's stuff

  • bravotojohn on October 30, 2008, 3:51 GMT

    Hey Mr Sangakara.. I'm an 18 year old Irish boy and a bowler at that... but for me, i found my love for cricket through the brilliance of Brian Lara, even now i am a dedicated West Indies fan. I found it very refreshing to hear a tribute such as this of a truly great player! I acknowledge that the comparisons that who is better of he and Tendulker will go on for a while and i appreciated that you didn't compare... they are both great players!

    I also agree with the sense of excitement which Lara gave me when i came home from school to watch a WI test match.. he always had to shoulder the burden of a team in strife at 20-2 then 50-3.

    This article is also pleasing as a deserved tribute to a man who departed from the game under a lot of controversy and criticism.

    I wish you good health Kumar and hope to see you score a stack of runs!!

    :-D Regards

    Rory

  • JKSFB on October 30, 2008, 3:48 GMT

    Great post Sanga..Despite my loyalty to India, I will readily admit that I would much rather watch Lara bat than anyone else. His batting had a soul that was up for display everytime....I think that is the reason why a Lara innings transcended all statistical landmarks....A pity that he played mainly with a bunch of average players who could only be jealous of his explosive talent

  • rck5054 on October 30, 2008, 3:46 GMT

    Great article. The best thing is that he did not compared him with anyone. It is true that not only brian lara but the whole westindies sometimes play in that attitude. Especially in one-day when they need hang around, the westindies batsman try to hit four in every over thus end loosing wickets and the match. A classic example is the champions trophy in 2006 which they won against england. Westindies almost lost the game; to chase 213 they played like as if chasing 350. Sanga got it spot on about the attitude.

  • Rukicee on October 30, 2008, 3:23 GMT

    Nice article mate! Brian was just awesome to watch!

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  • Rukicee on October 30, 2008, 3:23 GMT

    Nice article mate! Brian was just awesome to watch!

  • rck5054 on October 30, 2008, 3:46 GMT

    Great article. The best thing is that he did not compared him with anyone. It is true that not only brian lara but the whole westindies sometimes play in that attitude. Especially in one-day when they need hang around, the westindies batsman try to hit four in every over thus end loosing wickets and the match. A classic example is the champions trophy in 2006 which they won against england. Westindies almost lost the game; to chase 213 they played like as if chasing 350. Sanga got it spot on about the attitude.

  • JKSFB on October 30, 2008, 3:48 GMT

    Great post Sanga..Despite my loyalty to India, I will readily admit that I would much rather watch Lara bat than anyone else. His batting had a soul that was up for display everytime....I think that is the reason why a Lara innings transcended all statistical landmarks....A pity that he played mainly with a bunch of average players who could only be jealous of his explosive talent

  • bravotojohn on October 30, 2008, 3:51 GMT

    Hey Mr Sangakara.. I'm an 18 year old Irish boy and a bowler at that... but for me, i found my love for cricket through the brilliance of Brian Lara, even now i am a dedicated West Indies fan. I found it very refreshing to hear a tribute such as this of a truly great player! I acknowledge that the comparisons that who is better of he and Tendulker will go on for a while and i appreciated that you didn't compare... they are both great players!

    I also agree with the sense of excitement which Lara gave me when i came home from school to watch a WI test match.. he always had to shoulder the burden of a team in strife at 20-2 then 50-3.

    This article is also pleasing as a deserved tribute to a man who departed from the game under a lot of controversy and criticism.

    I wish you good health Kumar and hope to see you score a stack of runs!!

    :-D Regards

    Rory

  • The_other_side on October 30, 2008, 3:58 GMT

    Lara is the best batsman I have seen. Although I always believed Tendulkar had the temperament and technique, the instinct to dominate is where Lara stands out. Lara, I think is better than IVA Richards and I was lucky to watch at least 10 international centuries of Lara including the 3 against drawn series against Australia. This article by a famous batsman like Kumara Sangakkara shows the awe with which Lara is looked up all over the world. Lara was not very good against India but some of his innings against others have been breath taking. There is this propensity to hit the ball in the air that makes the game more exciting. I still cant forget the manner in which he dismissed Pietersen of South Africa for 28 runs. In 1997 WI were touring Australia and he kept getting out to McGrath. Then came final Perth test and Lara walked in to face first ball from McGrath. Lara middled the first ball in a forward defensive stroke and went on to score 132. Only great people's stuff

  • sachin-is-god on October 30, 2008, 4:04 GMT

    I believe no words in this world could describe the way Brian played.. still I wonder why so many people attempt to do that all the time.

  • SHANTIRATNAM on October 30, 2008, 4:06 GMT

    Well said Mr.Sangakara. Brian Lara, maintained his status as a star batsman right through out his career, no bolwer felt, that Bria'ns era was over at an stage. No bowler had a fixed plan that always worked to get rid of Lara. He always reflected confidence in him each time he walked out to bat under any kind of circumstances. Lara would have achived more if he had another bunch of ten players in the same class as those played in the time when West Indies were the most awesome cricket team in the world, which goes to prove cricket is a team game, nobody is bigger than the game itself.

  • The_other_side on October 30, 2008, 4:18 GMT

    This article from KS is particularly special because in my opinion the series that KS speaks mentioning is one where Murali was not just tamed but dominated. His thoughts about Lara's technique is very interesting and goes to show coaching manuals are for lesser mortals.It is easier to imagine Lara as a ballet dancer performing war dance on a cricket field.

  • Arijit_in_TO on October 30, 2008, 4:30 GMT

    The best Test batsmen of his generation. Once he was set, he would not get out. I was lucky enough to have an unknown named Brian Lara sign my cricket bat when he was with the then still mighty West Indians for an exhibiton match. That item is something I shall always treasure. I only wish he had toured India more than he did as that nation was deprived of seeing more of this special talent. He does not have the ODI record of his contemporaries but his innings against South Africa in 1996 WC Quarter Final showed how great he was. He found the gap every time - no slogging required.

  • maddy_cric on October 30, 2008, 4:30 GMT

    Absolutely no doubt that he is the greatest test batsman that I have seen..his handling of spin and the fact that he never sacrificed his aggressive style even when his team was in the doldrums sets him apart..a thorough entertainer!!