Record-breaking Batsman and Captain of the West Indies Test Cricket team

Brian Lara is currently the best Test Match batsman in the World game, holding the record for the both the highest ever Test score and the highest domestic total. Not since the days of Don Bradman has anyone built massive scores as often and as quickly as Lara.

In the beginning ...

Brian Charles Lara was born on May 2nd 1969 in Cantaro, Santa Cruz on the island of Trinidad, as one of eleven children born to Bunty and Pearl Lara. In true West Indian style, cricket was the local obsession, and by the age of three, Brian already had a bat in his hands. His father was a huge cricket fan, and enrolled Brian in the local Harvard cricket clinic at the age of six.

At the tender age of 14 whilst playing in the the local U16 schoolboy season at home he scored 1,418 runs with 7 centuries in the course of a season, but he just failed to make the Trinidad and Tobago team for the Northern Telecom Youth Championship, mostly due to his dimunitive stature. The selectors saw the error of their ways the year later and Brian proved himself by notching up 498 runs in the course of the competition, eclipsing Carl Hooper's standard of 480 set the previous year.

After the death of his father in 1988, the young Brian moved in with fellow Trinidadian, Test player Michael Carew in Woodbrook, Port-of-Spain. Michael's father, Joey Carew, was instrumental in guiding Brian. He was already making a big impact on the local circuit, graduating from Fatima College and the Queen's Park Club to the Trinidad side and leading West Indies' youth team to the inaugural World Cup in Australia all in the same year.

His Test debut came in 1990 when he took the field in Lahore for the West Indies against Pakistan in 1990, with his ODI debut turning up later on that year. He was selected to tour England the following year, but a strong batting line up kept him out of the side. Until West Indies' 1992 tour of Australia, Lara was simply a promising young batsman. The series, which West Indies won 2-1, with Lara making two 50's and his first Test century saw him feted as an epic performer almost overnight, arguably the first world-class batsman his country has ever produced.

The Wilderness Years

After his explosion onto the International scene, with his then-record 375 not out against England, his 501 for Warwickshire against Durham a few months later, and being made the youngest-ever Trinidadian captain of the West Indies seemed to be too much for him. Lara's form crashed, and he lost the plot to some degree, arguing with fellow players in the changing room which led to him quitting the England tour after the 4th Test and the following year pulling out of the Australia tour two days before they left after being reprimanded by the West Indian Cricket Board for his behaviour the previous summer. All this proved too much for the selectors and he lost the captaincy to Jimmy Adams.

He regained the captaincy in 1998 where he had an an inventive but largely fruitless spell in charge of a fading team. He was briefly sacked as captain during the pay disputes of that year, but was reinstated after 4 days. Despite all of this off-field turmoil, he managed to reiterate his genius with the bat, single-handedly defying the 1998-99 Australian tourists with a sequence of centuries and double centuries whilst the rest of the team crumbled around him.

Top of the World, Ma!

Knowing what fantastic cricket Lara was capable of, Sir Garfield Sobers suggested a tweak to the left-hander's backlift, and Brian returned to his record breaking form in the West Indies test against Sri Lanka in winter of 2001, scoring a 221 and a 130 in consectutive innings. Over the course of the series he went on to score a massive 42% of the West Indies' runs.

It wasn't to last however, and the West Indies dismal form continued. Brian only managed to make 100 runs in his six previous innings. Many critics blamed Lara, and called for him to be sacked once again as captain.

It was whilst he was under the critics' microscopes that Brian made his ascendency into the Pantheon of Cricketing Greats during the in the 2004 Test matches against England at Antigua. The West Indies were 3-0 down in the series and facing a whitewash for the first time since they had become a Test nation in 1928, and proceeded to spend 12 hours and more than 200 overs in searing heat, to produce hitting 43 fours and four sixes to score 400 not out, and in doing so, recapturing the world record which he had lost six months previously to Australian, Matthew Hayden. It was almost ten years to the week since he first broke the record.

The return series in England during the same summer finally saw Brian break the 10,000 Test run barrier, being only the 8th person to have ever done so, and managing to do it in the shortest time.

Those records in full

  • Broke the World record score by scoring 375 against England in Anitigua on 18th April 1994, previously held by Sir Garfield Sobers test match record of 365 not-out.
  • Broke the World record score again on April by scoring 400 not out against England at the same ground in Antigua, 10 years to the week after the first time.
  • Only batsman to have ever scored a hundred, a double centry, a triple centruy, and quadruple century and a quintuple century in first class games over the course of a senior career.
  • Winner of Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1995.
  • BBC Sports Personality of the Year Overseas Personality 1994
  • At the time of writing, he holds the record for the most runs scored from a single over after making 28 from 6 balls against RJ Peterson of South Africa

Statistics

Test statistics as of 20/08/04

  • Matches - 112
  • Innings - 197
  • Total Runs - 10080
  • Highest Score - 400 (not out)
  • Average - 59.99
  • 100's - 26
  • 50's - 46

ODI statistics as of 20/08/04

  • Matches - 240
  • Total Runs - 8807
  • Highest Score - 169
  • Average - 42.34
  • 100's - 18
  • 50's - 55

Sources include:

http://caribbean.halloffame.tripod.com/Brian_Charles_Lara.html
http://www.nalis.gov.tt/Biography%5Cbio_BrianLara_captaincy.html
http://www.cricinfo.com/link_to_database/PLAYERS/WI/L/LARA_BC_04001982/
http://www.cricinfo.com/link_to_database/ARCHIVE/CRICKET_NEWS/2004/APR/122766_WIENG2003-04_12APR2004.html
http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Brian-Lara
http://www-scf.usc.edu/~gkhetan/brianlara.html