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Lara to the fore-hundred
Tuesday 13, April-2004 by Philip Spooner
AT ANTIGUA RECREATION GROUND – It can happen.
Man can walk on the moon, man can climb Mount Everest, and man can escape from Alcatraz.
But hear ye, hear ye – man can now make 400 runs in a Test match innings.
And that man is Brian Lara, the man who walked on cricket’s moon with 277 against Australia in 1992, climbed the game’s Everest with 375 against England a decade ago, and escaped from its Alcatraz with his 153 not out against Australia in 1999.
Yesterday he went to the summit of cricket becoming the first man to make a quadruple-century in a Test innings. Lara’s unconquered 400 proclaimed beyond doubt his status as the modern game’s No.1 player.
It started on Saturday morning and he batted all day Sunday and half of yesterday. At age 34 batsmen are supposed to on the declining curve,but the law of diminishing returns does not apply to Lara.
When he reached 381 he surpassed the world record of 380 held by Australia’s Matthew Hayden, who set the mark against Zimbabwe sixmonths ago.
Moments after Lara set the standard he received a call from Hayden who congratulated him on a fine batting display. There were also calls from Ernie Els, the world-rated South African golfer who finished second to Phil Mickleson in the Masters two days ago, and Patrick Manning, Prime Minister of Trinidad.
“This is by far the better performance,” Lara admitted as he compared yesterday’s effort to the 375.
“I rate my innings on the worth of it. I would like to see the outcome of this match. I have played some innings that have formed a wonderful part of West Indies history, the 153 in Barbados still stands out.”
After Lara declared in the afternoon, his young fast bowling quartet went to work and broke the back of England’s batting. Fidel Edwards was slippery and fast and had Graham Thorpe caught in the deep attempting a hook. Tino Best, gung-ho as usual, produced a sharp lifter which Marcus Trescothick edged intothe keeper’s gloves and Best also accounted for Nasser Hussain with a full-house yorker.
Left-armer Pedro Collins was disciplined but was lucky to have Michael Vaughan caught behind when umpire Aleem Dar felt he touched an outswinger. The decision didn’t impress the England skipper, and he had all right to feel hard done.
Collins’ second victim was plain – an inswinging yorker which disturbed Mark Butcher’s furniture after theleft-hander had put together a somewhat scratchy half-century.
More drama was to unfold late in the evening as Lara missed a chance to send back Andy Flintoff, who resumes today on 37 with debutant keeper Geraint Jones on 32, as the visitors look at a follow-on target of 552.
Lara, at first slip, grabbed a slip catch at second attempt. In his efforts to celebrate, however, Lara’s right hand with the ball bumped his backsideafter he seemed to have the catch under control.
He successfully tried a Brazilian-style back-flick but could not reclaim the catch. Under the rules of the game he could have claimed the catch but admitted the guilt of dropping it by burying his head in his hands and sitting on the grass.
It was a moment Lara would not want to remember of the day he made his record score. He started the day on 313 and established several records during the West Indies’ amazing display on a pitch which batsman would love to walk around with in their back pockets.
He went to 350 off 494 balls with 39 fours and three sixes. He came down the track to launch a straight six off Gareth Batty which took him from 374 to 380 where he joined Hayden on the world record. The next ball was a swept boundary, which went past Thorpe at short fine leg. Thorpe stretched out in vain, remembering that he was also on the receiving end when Lara made 375 a decade ago.
The magical 400 came after 728 minutes batting and contained 43 fours and four sixes. It was another sweep shot down to fine-leg this time for a single.
The first man to congratulate Lara was Ridley Jacobs, who cashed in to make his second Test century on home soil and third overall. His 107 not out came from 207 balls and included eight fours and three towering sixes.
He was the perfect foil, adding an unbroken 282 for the sixth wicket with the skipper. It was a all-time West Indies record beating the unbroken 274 by Sir Garry Sobers and David Holford at Lord’s in 1996.
Compliments of the Nation
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