Brian Lara, who was inducted into the ICC's Hall of Fame at the awards ceremony in Colombo on Friday evening, dedicated the honour to his late father Bunty Lara, who died before his son played a Test. Lara also credited his brother Winston and sister Agnes during the function at the Water's Edge Resort, saying they'd played important roles in his development as a cricketer.
"This person you see today before you accepting this Hall of Fame honour is someone he [Bunty Lara] moulded. He ensured that I had everything I needed to succeed as a cricketer and in life, even in trying times," Lara said. "He made a special effort to make sure everything was there.
"I had to work hard ... but I knew I had strong support. My biggest pain was that he did not see me play a Test match, but having the West Indies team in Trinidad at his funeral was a special tribute to the man who made sure I was given the tools to play this glorious game and make such a lasting contribution."
Lara ended his 17-year international career as Test cricket's leading run-scorer, with 11,953 runs at an average of 52.88 in 131 matches, a record that has been beaten since. However, he still holds the record for the highest individual score - 400 against England in Antigua in 2004. He had held it before as well, when he scored 375, also against England in Antigua in 1994, to go past Garry Sobers' 365. He also holds the record for the highest first-class score: 501 not out for Warwickshire against Durham* in 1994.
In the 299 ODIs that he played, Lara scored 10,405 runs at an average of 40.48. In 2004, when captaining West Indies, he led the team to victory in the Champions Trophy against England at the Oval.
"As a boy, you never really thought of Hall of Fames, you never really thought of records. Growing up in the '70s my heroes were Clive Lloyd, Viv Richards and Roy Fredericks as a left-hand batsman. I am happy I was able to spend 17 years in the West Indies and was able to contribute in a way worthy of this honour," Lara said. "It is nice to share it with my family.
"Tonight I had my brother and my sister here with me. Agnes is the one who took me to my first coaching clinic when I was six, and Winston was a role model as a stylish right-handed batsman ... so to have them here is very special."
Lara said his most memorable series was the four home Tests against Australia in 1999, when he scored 213 in Jamaica and 153 in Barbados to help West Indies draw the rubber 2-2.
"The 213 against Australia in Jamaica is definitely my best innings," he said. "You have to understand the climate at that time. Going into that match, landing in Jamaica and knowing that everything was on the line - your captaincy, the series, respect and adoration by your fans. The mental strength I mustered during that week was something that when I looked back, it was very hard to measure anything against that.
"The performance was something I cherish and the fact that we won the match to level the series, after we were bowled out for 51 the week before in Trinidad, felt great. I thought the way I handled it was special. It is something I will never ever forget ... it's a day's cricket I will be talking about for a very long time. The 153 in Barbados the following week was rated higher by Wisden and the cricketing gurus but the double century in Jamaica was my best effort."
Lara, 43, joined 16 West Indian cricketers - Lance Gibbs, Gordon Greenidge, George Headley, Michael Holding, Rohan Kanhai, Clive Lloyd, Malcolm Marshall, Viv Richards, Andy Roberts, Garfield Sobers, Clyde Walcott, Everton Weekes, Frank Worrell, Courtney Walsh, Joel Garner and Curtly Ambrose - in the ICC Hall of Fame.
*1000GMT A correction was made to change "for Durham against Warwickshire" to "for Warwickshire against Durham