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And in the end...

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Perhaps the most significant aspect of his career was the fact that his Test knocks of 375 and 400, genuinely astonishing feats of human concentration, seldom ranked in most fans' top three innings.  This point alone is enough to mull over the course of the day and underlined that he had long transcended the statistical bounds of the game and entered its pantheon.

 
In my humble opinion he remains simply the greatest batsman to play the game.  I make this statement not as a biased fellow Trini but because of the sustained volume of Test runs continued through the game's transformation into a professional sport demanding ultra-fitness from its fielders and the laptop analyses of its many coaches.  The Don, Grace,
Hobbs and Richards simply did not play in such a glare and their achievements must be discounted (ever so humbly) in light of such considerations. Further, those who own the DVDs shall note that the 400 is compiled predominantly on the onside, an aspect of his game not fully developed or utilized in his cover-drive strewn 375.  In short, he had reinvented his talents to heavily counteract the traps lain out after 1994.  This act alone is unprecedented.

 
I'll close by highlighting two personal favorites that I've used to bookend the number intro above.

 
Anyone who witnessed his innings through the 1994 regional season was not surprised at how that season turned out.  The one inning that lives forever with me was the 180 for
Trinidad vs. a daunting Jamaican pace attack lead by Courtney Walsh.  Lara imposed his will to power for all to see in a team total of 240-odd that gradually gained first innings points.  Shots were lobbed over inner rings and tapped and cut for singles off every overs' fifth or sixth ball as he shielded the tail and became the team innings. Tony Cozier has called it the most influential knock ever played regionally and none of the 600 or so persons there that day shall disagree.

 
The 196 is against the South Africans on their last tour and comprises the most sublime 150 ever stroked in my Test memory.  With Pollock and Ntini snorting through and conditions remaining mildly overcast all day, however, Lara middled everything from the start and drove and pulled with magnificent authority.  I had missed his first Test hundred at home four years previous and had taken the day off to watch the game with no major expectations.  He was now a 'lion in winter' but for that somehow intimate afternoon, he held back the years and made it a genuinely thrilling afternoon.  I noted the next day that Colin Croft (our resident cynic) labeled it his favorite Lara knock.  No arguments here.

 
Over the years I have stood and applauded every century whether seen on TV or heard on the radio and when he enters the pavilion for the last time on the weekend I shall stand now with millions one last time and whisper 'Thank you, thank you, thank you'.

 



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