Numbers might not do full justice to the genius that is Brian Lara, but they do offer a offer a good indication of his vast talents. Over a career which has so far spanned 15 years, Lara has scored runs against allcomers in all parts of the globe, and against the best bowling attacks. The mantle of highest run-getter in Test history sits easily on him.
Lara's career summary
indicates that he has been most prolific against Sri Lanka, but the runs have come at a fair rate against almost every team - the only disappointment is his sub-40 average against India in 13 Tests.
Unlike a Sachin Tendulkar or a Jacques Kallis, consistency hasn't been Lara's forte, but when he's been in the mood, he has run up some amazing streaks. His progression chart to his 11,000-plus runs tells the story: a smashing start to his Test career, followed by lean patches in 1997-98 and 2000-01 - he needed 30 Tests to move from 3000 to 5000 runs - but some outstanding spells thereafter.
Almost throughout his career, though, Lara has been saddled with a team which is among the weakest in the history of West Indian cricket. The result - a string of defeats with Lara invariably playing a lone hand. He has been involved in a staggering 57 losses
, and nearly 44% of all his runs have been scored in these games. As the table below shows, Lara's tally of 4797 runs in defeats is well clear of the second-placed Alec Stewart, while no other batsman has scored two double-hundreds in losing causes
. With the current West Indies team struggling in Australia, you wouldn't want to bet against more that tally going up to three by the time this Test is done.
More proof of Lara's lone-ranger acts - he has scored more than 40% of the team runs on 20 separate occasions - the latest one being his effort at Adelaide. The highest percentage contribution was when he scored 375 out of a team total of 593
- an amazing 63.24% - against England at Antigua in 1993-94.
In all, Lara has scored 20.42% of all runs scored by West Indies in the 119 games he has played for them (excluding the ongoing Adelaide Test). To give you an idea of the lack of support he's had to deal with, the corresponding figure for Viv Richards was 15.23%, for Garry Sobers 16.17%, while among the current players, Sachin Tendulkar has scored 17.18% of the runs scored by India, and Inzamam-ul-Haq 16.24% for Pakistan. Lara's contributions have come almost equally in victories and defeats - 20.05% in wins and 19.82% in losses.
The weak West Indian outfit has also meant that Lara has ended up batting twice in a Test more often than most other batsmen, ensuring that it's only taken him 121 Tests to get to the mark that took Allan Border 156. Sachin Tendulkar has played a couple of matches more, but is still more than 1000 runs short of Border.
Like all great batsmen, the best time to get Lara is early in his innings - once he gets a start, he makes it count more often than not. In the 127 innings when he has passed 20, Lara has scored 81.42 runs per innings (including not-outs). Among the batsmen who have at least 20 scores of more than 20, only two batsmen have done better. Also, apart from Don Bradman, no batsman has scored as many as Lara's eight double-centuries