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Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - Brian Charles Lara 400 not out

Brian Charles Lara
Brian Charles Lara
©CWM
 
West Indies captain Brian Lara on his way to 400 Not Out
©Reuters
 
West Indies captain Brian Lara celebrates after breaking the world record
©Reuters
 

April 12, 2004 - It took Australian opener Matthew Hayden nearly a decade to top Lara's 375 with 380 against Zimbabwe in Perth. Only six months had passed when Lara snatched the record back, and it has remained with him since.

 

In April 1994, West Indies legend Brian Lara broke Sir Garfield Sobers' world record of Test cricket's highest individual score by scoring 375 against England. Lara batted for almost 13 hours and struck 45 fours while facing almost 90 overs.

 

In 2014, England were on a tour of West Indies and were going extremely well. They had won all the three Test matches prior to this game at the Antigua Recreation Ground in St John's comfortably and were looking set for a whitewash.

 

What's more, Lara was looking nowhere close to the phenomenon he was when he had cracked 375 a decade ago. His captaincy was on the line and his team was losing far more often than they were winning.

 

In this backdrop, the home team won the toss and batted first on an utter featherbed in Antigua. At 98-2 and openers Chris Gayle and Darren Ganga back in the hut, it seemed like a usual day. Something unusual was about to happen.

 

The next time, a wicket fell (Ramnaresh Sarwan caught Trescothick bowled Harmison), the score read 330-3. Brian Charles Lara had added more than 200 runs for the third wicket with Sarwan, squeezing a respectable bowling attack with Andrew Flintoff, Matthew Hoggard and Steve Harmison into dust.

 

The West Indian skipper batted for a full two days and West Indies declared at 751/5 on Day 3. Ridley Jacobs, who helped Lara add a West Indies record unbroken sixth-wicket partnership of 282, compiled his third Test century of 107 not out almost unnoticed. Lara rewrote history with a majestic 400 not out on a record-filled third day of the Test.

 

Resuming on his overnight score of on 313, Lara tied Hayden's record 20 minutes before lunch on Day 3 when he stepped down the pitch to hit off-spinner Gareth Batty for his fourth six. He swept the next ball, his 546th, for his 42nd four to retake the record.

 

The destructive Caribbean player became the first batsman to score 400 in Test cricket half an hour after lunch, reclaiming the record for the game's highest score almost 10 years to the day he first set it, also against England at the same Antigua Recreation Ground. A packed crowd of more than 12,000, over half of them England supporters, rose to acclaim Lara, who removed his helmet, jumped, and punched the air in celebration.

 

Playing in his 106th Test, captain Lara spent 13 hours and 582 deliveries for his quadruple century. The Trinidadian lashed 43 fours and four sixes. He and the great Don Bradman are the only batsmen to score more than 300 twice in Tests.

 

 The West Indies total was the highest scored against England, surpassing Australia's 6-729 declared at Lord's in 1930.

 

For his unprecedented feat, Lara was congratulated by England, and Baldwin Spencer, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, who led a small delegation onto the field to shake Lara's hand. He later received a congratulatory phone call from Hayden, who described Lara's innings as "amazing" after listening to it on radio.

 

"When I scored it (375 in 1994) before, I did not know what to expect," Lara said after his majestic knock. "This time it was very tiring but I'm here again. Matthew Hayden must have batted very well against Zimbabwe. It doesn't matter who you're playing against. It's very hard. Coming back six or seven months later to do it all over again, I feel great but to say I knew I would have done it again, no. It's a great feeling but it's dampened a bit by the series result."

 

Lara's only half-chance was at 293 when a stinging drive burst through Batty's hands on its way to the boundary.

 

England had already secured the series, their first in 36 years in the Caribbean, with easy victories in the first Three tests. The match, also the last Test of the series, was drawn and skipper Lara was also criticised for declaring a bit too late for a result to be possible. But, on that day, a feat far more memorable than what could have been a Test win, was achieved.

 

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