Room at the top only for LARA | Daily News

BRIAN 'KING' CHARLES LARA

Room at the top only for LARA

Arguably the most stylish and consistent run scoring left hand batsman to strike the world cricketing firmament was West Indian BRIAN CHARLES LARA who was rightly tagged the ‘PRINCE OF TRINIDAD’ for his mind boggling run scoring in the game.

Before the arrival of LARA the greatest left hand batsman the world of the willow had seen was undoubtedly Garfield Sobers also from the Caribbean islands. During his time Sobers had no equal.

But all the batting records that Sobers had set, especially breaking England’s Len Hutton’s individual batting record of 364, was erased by LARA who rewrote the books going past that score and making 375 against England in 1994.

Hard hitting

Later the Australian hard hitting opening batsman Matthew Hayden lowered that mark making 380 against Zimbabwe in a Test match in 2003. But LARA stung to the quick did not let that record stay has he bludgeoned the England attack in a Test in Trinidad going past Hayden’s score and remaining unbeaten on 400 at Antigua in 2004. From the time that LARA held the willow, he had greatness written all over and former Windies greats who had a glimpse of his batting artistry predicted a great future for the young stylish left hander. And he did not let them down as records came naturally to him.

Cricket fans in Sri Lanka who were yearning to watch the great man in action, had the rare opportunity when LARA made a double hundred and hundred in the final of three Test series against Sri Lanka at the Sinhalese Sports Club ground In 2001.

Batting treat

LARA provided a batting treat and he had the spectators at the SSC sunned and applauding and admiring his heroics and every stroke that was from the book and had style and grace written all over. On that tour of Sri Lanka Lara scored a record 688 runs against Sri Lanka making three tons and a half ton.

That was the time when Sri Lanka’s spin ace Muttiah Muralitheran was accumulating wickets with his well disguised ‘doosra’. Two batsmen had watched and mastered Muralitheran. The first was India’s Navjot Singh Sidhu who Sunil Gavaskar tagged as ‘Jonty’ Sidhu for his Rhodes like fielding and BRIAN LARA.

While other world cricketing batsmen failed to read and score runs against the wiles of Muralitheran, LARA who had the knack of seeing the ball much earlier than most other batsman, had no difficulty whatsoever of reading Muralitheran and scoring a lot of runs off his bowling.

House with 16 rooms

For breaking Garfield Sobers record of 365, the West Indian authorities built him a Palace like house which had 16 rooms. Former Kurunegala Youth cricketer Sarath de Silva who lives in Trinidad and who is a great friend of LARA took me past LARA'S mansion when I was in the Caribbean covering a cricket of tour of the Sri Lanka team.

The mansion was a lovely piece of architecture. This mansion depicted that the room at the top was fit only for LARA the batting sensation.

LARA had several batting records including making a big and majestic 501 not out for his county Warwickshire against Durham at Edgbaston in a county game in 1994 which is on record of being the only quintuple hundred in first-class cricket history.

LARA in making 28 runs in an over bowled by Robin Peterson of South Africa in a Test match in 2003 which was equaled by Australia’s George Bailey in 2013.

Magnificent 153

LARA made a magnificent 153 not out against the might of Australia in 1999 in Bridgetown, Barbados which Wisden rated the second best batting effort in the history of the established game next to Sir Donald Bradman’s 270 in a Ashes Test match in 1937.

LARA who was scoring heavily for Trinidad and Tobago debuted in Test cricket when the selectors fronted him up against Pakistan in 1990. It was not a debut to caw about because he made only 44 and 5, but it was enough for the selectors to persist with him.

LARA who has several batting records in his name is the highest individual scorer in first class cricket – 501 not out for his county Warwickshire and Test cricket 400 not out for his country against England. His world record of 501 not out came in just 474 minute off 427 deliveries with 10 sixes and 62 fours.

Appointed captain

LARA has been appointed captain, removed and re-appointed captain three times proving that you can’t keep a good man down. He has the record of going past 10,000 runs in one day internationals.

LARA popularly called the ‘The Prince of Port of Spain’, had the record of playing in 63 Test matches for his country. LARA hails from a big family of 11 siblings. His father Bunty and one of his older sisters Agnes Cyrus noticing his craving to play cricket got him into to a local Harward Coaching Clinic when he was just six.

LARA'S exit from Test cricket ended in a sad note when he was run out in a mix up with Marlon Samuels after he had made 18 and looking in good touch to make a big score and go out in a blaze of glory. It was a sad ending to a legend.

Nine double ‘tons’

LARA has scored nine double Test centuries third after Bradman’s 12 and Kumar Sangakkara’s 11. Leading the West Indies he made five double centuries.

LARA received a Honorary Doctorate from the University of Sheffield. He is also Ambassador for Sport of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobgo. LARA was also a promising soccerite and golfer, but concentrated more on cricket which helped him achieve stardom.

Of interest to sports fans in Sri Lanka is that BRIAN LARA is the godfather of SHEMIKA daughter of SURESH and ARCHIRA Edirisinghe and granddaughter of GAMINI and MANEL of Edirisinghe Auto Court. The Edirisinghes have a close friendship with LARA.

BRIAN CHARLES LARA'S career statistics make interesting reading.

TESTS 131 – RUNS 11,953 – HUNDREDS 34 – FIFTIES – 48- TOP SCORE 400 NOT OUT – CATCHES 164 – ODIS – 299 – RUNS 10,405 – HUNDREDS – 19 – FIFTIES – 63 –TOP SCORE 169 – CATCHES 120.

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