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Lara (313) closes in on world record
FRANCIS JOSEPH Monday, April 12 2004
WEST INDIES Captain Brian Lara is closing in on the world record again. Ten years ago, he scored a Test best of 375 against England at the Antigua Recreation Ground (ARG) to surpass Sir Gary Sobers’ 365. He watched as his record was broken... snatched away by Australian opener Matthew Hayden last October (380) against Zimbabwe. Lara, who had been having a dismal series against the visiting England team, came good at last and when play ended yesterday — the second day of the Fourth and final Test at the same ARG, Lara was 313 not out, with wicket-keeper Ridley Jacobs on 47 and the West Indies with a massive 595 for five. It was also the second highest total at the ARG.
It seemed like deja vu all over again. Just like ten years ago, Lara’s big innings started on the Saturday, continued all Sunday and ended on Monday when he broke Sobers’ record. Will he do the same again today, is anybody’s guess. Following yesterday’s play, a tired “Prince of Port-of-Spain” said he was looking forward to today’s play. He said he was thinking of ten years ago and remembering the Sunday evening when play ended with him on 320 not out. This time, he resumes today on 313 not out.
Although not admitting that he was looking to break the record again, Lara said he wants another 100-plus runs so the West Indies could score between 700 and 750 in this innings. “It is a great feeling,” Lara added. He said the last time he scored 300, the West Indies were leading in the series. This time, the West Indies are down 0-3 and hoping to avoid the first ever whitewash in the Caribbean. “I am happy to come out and do it for the guys. We haven’t been batting well. We have been putting on partnerships and collapsing. This pitch is a batting paradise. It seems like deja vu all over again, because last year, we were down 0-3 against the Australians and we came here and scored the highest score in the fourth innings of a test match to beat them.”
Lara said his knock so far was different to his innings of 375 reached on April 18, 1994. “The English bowling now is better disciplined. The run rate so far has been great, I am looking forward to tomorrow. Tonight, I will be resting, but I will be thinking about ten years ago,” the batting maestro added. Lara is only the second person in the history of test cricket to score two triple hundreds. The legendary Australian batsman Sir Don Bradman was the only other cricketer to achieve this feat. In 1930, Bradman scored 334 against England at Headingly, Leeds. He returned in 1934 at the same ground and scored 304 against England.
Lara’s two triple hundreds were also scored on the same ground — the ARG — but ten years apart. His 313 has so far contained 34 boundaries and three sixes. When he crossed 200, Lara had reached this milestone seven times. Above him was Sir Don Bradman who scored 12 double centuries in 52 tests. Lara is tied on seven double centuries with the late Englishman Wally Hammond. Lara’s 313 not out was achieved against the backdrop of his poor run in the first three matches of the series which England won on the trot. He barely scored over 100 runs in the six innings, but he promised, before this test, that the West Indies would rebound. And rebound, they did.
In Barbados, Lara had been concentrating on his batting in the nets following that decisive defeat which gave the English their first series win in the Caribbean for 36 years. Staunch West Indies fans, including many TT nationals, knew that the English would get a backlash from Lara’s poor scores. With the ARG his hunting ground, fans felt Lara was going to blast the English bowlers in this match... so said, so done. The English team led by Michael Vaughan looked a beaten side, and with fans promising to pack the ARG as never before, today will not be any easier for the visitors. Ten years ago, Shivnarine Chanderpaul stayed with Lara to reach his milestone. Who will it be today — Jacobs or the bowlers?
Following Lara’s achievement in 1994, he was honoured by the Government. He was awarded the nation’s highest honour, the Trinity Cross, was given a piece of land at Lady Chancellor where he built his mansion, and he got 375,000 in free miles courtesy BWIA. Two months after his ARG achievement, Lara scored the highest ever first class score — 501 not out — on June 11, 1994 for Warwickshire against Durham at Edgbaston in the English County Championships. He still holds that record.
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