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December 19, 1997


'But for my father, I would have been nowhere'

Brain Lara Can anyone forget those heady weeks between April and June, 1994 when a shy Trinidadian climbed new highs in Test and first class cricket? First, that awesome 375 not out, against England at St John's, Antigua. Followed a few weeks later by that incredible 501 not out for Warwickshire against Durham at Headingley.

During nets before the final at Sharjah, Brian Lara, arguably the most amazing batsman in contemporary cricket, cordially agreed to answer some questions from Anant Gaundalkar:

How did the Brian Lara story begin?

I used to play for Fatima college, in Port of Spain. During one season I hit seven centuries in the inter-school competition. I was only 15. Then in the annual West Indies under-19 championship, I averaged over 50 for four years. That was the beginning of my career. It was a good way to start.

But I must say here that my parents played a major role in shaping my career. I had some bad influences in my time and if my parents weren't there to straighten me out, I may have gone haywire.

Who else influenced your career?

Former West Indies opening batsman Joey Carew. When he saw me playing for the Fatima College junior teams, captained by his sons, he took keen interest in me, got me membership of Queen's Park, the island's strongest club team, and then monitored my development.

Apart from cricket, I was a good soccer player and wanted to win selection to the national youth training squad, but my father insisted that my future lay with cricket and persuaded me to stick to it.

When my father died in 1988, I was deeply hurt and then decided to make a lasting impression on the game.

I dedicated my 375 to his memory. But for my father, I would have been nowhere.

Anything else about your early career that made an impact on you?

I was made captain of the West Indies team to the youth World Cup in Australia in 1988, and captained the West Indies B team to Zimbabwe the following year. On my return, at the age of 20, I was asked to lead the Trinidad and Tobago side. I made my Test debut for the West Indies in Pakistan in December 1990, but did not appear again for the country till April 1992 against South Africa. It was a great moment for me to represent the country at the Test level, an opportunity I was waiting for all these days. That gave me immense happiness, and from then on I decided to remain a permanent member of the team.

In both Test and one-day cricket, you have played innings of high quality.

Two knocks in one-dayers were registered in Sharjah itself. The first was made against some quality Pakistan bowling way back in 1993-94. We were up against a huge Pakistan total of 284 for 4. We lost the 'great man' of one-day cricket Desmond Haynes very early in the innings, then Phil Simmons and Keith Arthurton gave me good company. I was in good nick that day. The outfield and wicket were conducive for strokeplay and I raced to 153 off only 143 deliveries with 21 boundaries. That knock gave me immense pleasure and we won the final with lots to spare.

The second knock was played in a match which had runs from both sides, West Indies and Sri Lanka. We made 333 for off 50 overs in which my contribution was 169 off 129 balls. Lanka fought back gallantly, and with the help of Hassan Tilekeratne, came very close to reaching the coveted target, but failed by just five runs in the end.

Brain Lara I like the longer version of the game than the instant type of cricket. In Test cricket, you get enough time to concentrate on your game and pace the innings accordingly. It was that 277 on a beautiful Sydney cricket ground in January 1993 in the fifth Test versus Australia that gave me immense happiness. Its immediate value was that it inspired a revival of West Indian spirits that led to the conversion of a 1-0 series deficit at the time to an eventual 2-1 triumph.

The 375 in the Antigua Test was in memory of my father. He was the main person who moulded my career in the right direction. He gave me the right inspiration at the right time which helped me a lot.

And the unbeaten 501 for Warwickshire?

That was once in a lifetime achievement. I am glad that everything worked for me during that particular game.

Any goals left...

To serve West Indies cricket for as long as possible and to lead them to another World Cup victory. The Windies pocketed as many as two World Cups -- an achievement no other team has managed so far. It will be in the fitness of things if we win the next World Cup in England during the 1999 summer.

Career Record:

 (including 06/12/1997)
         M    I  NO  Runs   HS     Ave 100  50   Ct St
Batting 48   82   2  4133  375   51.66  10  20   62  -

         O      M     R   W    Ave  Best   5 10    SR  Econ
Bowling 10      1    28   0    -     -     -  -    -   2.80

 (including 16/12/1997)
          M    I  NO  Runs   HS     Ave 100  50   Ct St
Batting 124  122  12  5148  169   46.80  11  34   60  -

        O      M     R   W    Ave  Best  4w 5w    SR  Econ
Bowling 4      0    22   2  11.00  2-5    -  -  12.0  5.50

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