DateLine: 20th February 2007
At a panel discussion involving former greats during the Champions Trophy in India in November 2006 Brian Lara was voted as the greatest among his peers the other batsmen in contention being two other modern giants Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting. That was the ultimate proof, if any was needed, of Lara’s true greatness and his fitness to be ranked among the outstanding batsmen of all time. Few batsmen have made the art and science of batting look so easy as this `prince of left-handers’. With that classical high back-lift Lara brings back memories of Gary Sobers and he has all the qualities that the best in the game possess – all the shots in the book, superb technique, an insatiable appetite for runs, an ideal temperament and the ability to rise to the occasion when runs are badly needed. The pressure on Lara is immense being the batting bulwark of a generally weak side. But time and again he has shrugged off these pressures and batted with all the grace associated with left-handers. Superb timing and faultless execution has driven captains, bowlers and fielders to exasperation and eight double centuries – more than anyone else other than Don Bradman – testify to his unique hunger for big scores as also the fact that he is the only one to get 400 in a Test match. He is the only batsman to regain his world Test record score – and for good measure he also holds the record for the highest score in first class cricket. He is also the highest run getter in Tests and as only to be expected is a formidable opponent in ODIs where he is one of the few to cross the 10,000-run mark. As a captain he has grown in stature after an indifferent start and as he approaches the sunset of an illustrious career he seems determined to go out in style.