Brian Charles Lara
May 02, 1969, Cantaro, Santa Cruz, Trinidad
Left hand Bat
Fatima College, Trinidad
No one since Bradman built massive scores as often and as fast as Brian Lara in his pomp, and with such elegance. Even his stance was thrilling - the bat raised high in the air, the weight poised on a bent front knee, the eyes low and level. Then the guillotine would fall, sending the ball flashing to the boundary.
The tenth of 11 children, Lara played for Trinidad's junior football and table tennis sides, but it was cricket that really drew him. In 1990, at 20, he became Trinidad and Tobago's youngest captain, and that year, he also made his Test debut, scoring 44 and 6 against Pakistan.
In the space of two months in 1994, Lara's 375 and 501 not out broke world records for the highest Test and first-class scores, but sudden fame seemed to turn him into a confused and contradictory figure. During an inventive but largely fruitless spell as captain of a fading West Indies team, Lara reiterated his genius by single-handedly defying the 1998-99 Australian tourists with a sequence of 213, 8, 153 not out and 100. For a while, excess weight and hamstring problems hampered his once-lightning footwork, and the torrent of runs became an occasional spurt. But after Garry Sobers suggested a tweak to his flourishing backlift, Lara returned to his best in Sri Lanka in 2001-02, with 688 runs - a record 42% of West Indies' output - in the series, and reclaimed the captaincy the following year.
The task proved as hard the second time round, leading a side where he was far and away the best player and where discipline was a constant worry. He led them to defeat for a second time in South Africa in 2003, and then lost to England in the Caribbean. But then, just when all hope seemed to have deserted West Indies cricket, Lara responded to the prospect of a home series whitewash with an astonishing unbeaten 400 in the final Test against England in Antigua in 2004. In doing so, he became the first man to reclaim the world Test batting record.
He was not captain in Adelaide in November 2005, when he went past Allan Border's tally of 11,174 runs to become Test cricket's most prolific scorer. Then in April 2006, after a protracted dispute between the West Indies board and the players' union (WIPA), he was reinstated - for the third time - as captain. Lara's leadership in the five-match one-day home series against India in 2006 came in for much praise as the tourists were knocked over 4-1, but in the Test series he struggled and his captaincy was erratic - he later revealed that his hands were tied due to peripheral issues related to team selection.
In Pakistan later that year he led by example with the bat but results continued to go against his side and as West Indies struggled both on and off the field, it became increasingly obvious that Lara, who appeared at odds with many of his team-mates, was unable to inspire the side to greater things. The World Cup offered him a chance to bow out on home soil and on a high, but one fifty in seven innings was not enough. West Indies went out with a whimper and Lara quit, one ODI short of 300, amid rumours of bitter disputes with administrators.
Batting & Fielding