To mark Brian Lara's 51st birthday, we shortlisted eight classic innings and asked fans to vote for their favourite.
In a career of 131 Tests and 11,953 runs in the format, Lara broke records for fun on his way to becoming one of the greatest batsmen in the world. It's no easy task to choose eight standout innings off the blade of the Prince of Port of Spain, and after much deliberation, we arrived at this shortlist for a bracket challenge on social media.
Which of these innings, which will be revealed over the course of the day, is Lara's best? Head to Twitter or Instagram to vote!
Happy Birthday to the Prince of Port of Spain!— ICC (@ICC) May 2, 2020
To celebrate, join in a bracket challenge and vote 🗳️ for Brian Lara's top Test innings 🤩
Stay tuned 🎉 pic.twitter.com/RsdV3SsRQd
153* v Australia, Bridgetown, 1999: This fourth-innings effort marked one of the greatest fightbacks in the sport. Chasing a target of 308 in the third Test in Barbados, West Indies were in some trouble at 248/8. But, against an attack of Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie, Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill, an in-form Lara remained determined, shepherding the lower order expertly while unfurling his array of strokes. While Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh did their bit in defiance, Lara provided the finishing touches for a special one-wicket win.
In the words of the great Clive Lloyd on that day, "To play as he did today, nursing along players with much less ability, was the hallmark of greatness."
202 v South Africa, Johannesburg 2003: Undeterred by South Africa's first-innings 561, Lara made 202 of his side's 410 runs in response. The highlight was a flurry of 28 runs off one Robin Peterson over, which read 4, 6, 6, 4, 4, 4. The hosts won by 189 runs, but not for lack of effort from the West Indies skipper. "Today you saw a different Brian Lara," he said. "From what I learnt from Jimmy (Adams) and Carl (Hooper) I have become a more determined player and a better captain."
Lara’s great Test fight-back is through to the semi-final!— ICC (@ICC) May 2, 2020
Next up, it's between a classic innings under pressure, which Lara himself calls his best, and a double ton that towered over the rest of the West Indies side 👇
A: 213 v AUS, Kingston, 1999
B: 226 v AUS, Adelaide, 2005 pic.twitter.com/xFhTs0CUnn
213 v Australia, Kingston, 1999: Lara's captaincy was under the scanner. The visiting Australians were on top in the series and had reduced the hosts to 34/4, with another batsman injured, when Lara showcased a masterclass. Along with Jimmy Adams (94), he stunned the opposition attack, the duo adding a sublime 322 runs to take a series-levelling lead of 175.
Years later, in a talk, the left-hander explained why the innings meant so much to him: "Pulling that innings out in face of adversity, it showed me what I was capable of. It might not have been the prettiest, but it definitely the best I have ever batted in my entire life."
226 v Australia, Adelaide, 2005: Lara's love-affair with Australia and the Australian attack continued on his last series in the country. This knock came off 298 balls when none of his team-mates scored even a half-century that innings. West Indies lost by seven wickets, but not before Lara broke Allan Border's record for most Test runs, prompting the Australian to say: "There is no doubt he is a genuine genius. I am sure I am not the only Australian who is pleased to see him hold this record."
One is a Test record for best individual Test score, with Lara going ahead of Sobers. The second is a sub-continent classic where he brushed aside Murali.— ICC (@ICC) May 2, 2020
Which will it be in the third quarter-final?
A: 375 v England, St John’s, 1994
B: 221 v Sri Lanka, Colombo, 2001 pic.twitter.com/S0mn71F9cO
375 v England, Antigua, 1994: Garry Sobers' 365* from 1958 was the highest individual score in Tests for 36 years before Lara broke the record. His 538-ball effort in the fifth Test extended over 12 hours and included 45 boundaries.
Sobers was admiring. "He is the only batsman today who plays the game the way it should be played – with his bat," he said. "He never uses his pads, and it is always a pride and joy to watch him play."
221 v Sri Lanka, Colombo, 2001: Sri Lanka won the Test by 10 wickets, but Lara's double-century in a team total of 390 was a class apart. Only two other West Indies batsmen got to double figures against a marauding home attack spearheaded by Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan.
400* v England, St John's, 2004: Ten years after he broke Sobers' record, and six months after Matthew Hayden broke his, Lara reclaimed the top spot among all-time individual high scores in Test cricket. The pitch held no demons, but the batsman had to deal with his own faltering form in the series and a team in decline to put in a monumental knock. It lasted 582 balls, and included 43 fours and four sixes.
277 v Australia, Sydney, 1993: The Prince's first ton, and one of his finest. Shane Warne quipped later, "If you didn't run him out, I think he would still be batting now. He was hitting the gaps every time."
Faced with the hosts' total of 503/9d in the third Test, Lara lifted his side from 31/2, combining with his skipper Richie Richardson in a sublime display that took Border's men by storm. West Indies great Rohan Kanhai was all praise: "Back foot, front foot, timing, placement, against spin bowlers and fast bowlers alike. He was marvellous."