Brian Lara retires from international cricket

Tis the season of resignations but I’m slightly surprised that he’s not staying on for the Tests this summer. I suppose there’s only so much one man can burden; his shoulders must be aching after a decade digging West Indies out of a mess (often digging in vain). What a complete and utter privilege it’s been, though, watching his career. Yes, it’s been bitter-sweet as an England fan in particular – the 375 will live with me forever; the 400 less so. But few sporting figures in a spectator’s lifetime directly influence their enjoyment of the game. They are rare, and Lara was unique; West Indies were a one-man team with depressing regularity.

Has any player been so burdened by the weight of expectation? Richard Hadlee was one, Sachin Tendulkar another (but he has had a number of other players, not least Rahul Dravid, bat around him). Mike Atherton in the nineties. But Lara, despite his flaws (notably with captaincy), remained near the top right to the end. There were breathless highs and inexplicable lows. He often got out to a Gower-like flash yet he was capable not only of breaking world records but his own world records. Steve Waugh (or was it Mark Taylor?) maintained that the only way to keep the runs from flowing was not to sledge him. Lara loved a fight, a good old-fashioned playground scrap. Deny him a battle, verbal or otherwise, and he was half the man. A bloody legend, that’s what he was.

I did a gallery of his career about a year ago which is in the process of being tweaked, but have a look anyway if you like. Your favourite, most memorable Lara moments please…

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