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Dravid and Kallis too brought something different to the game: Lara

Despite retiring in 2007, Lara’s popularity is intact in the capital of Trinidad and Tobago, where he is the unofficial “Prince of Port of Spain”.

August 05, 2022 / 06:46 PM IST
Lara broke records for fun on his way to becoming one of the greatest batsmen in the world. (Img Ctsy: ICC)

Lara broke records for fun on his way to becoming one of the greatest batsmen in the world. (Img Ctsy: ICC)

Almost three decades ago, in 1994, to be precise, West Indies batsman Brian Lara’s 375 against England and 501 not out (playing for Warwickshire) broke world records for the highest Test and first-class scores, and in 2004, he also became the first player to reclaim the world Test batting record by scoring 400 in an innings, again against England.

Like Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, Lara is among the elite cricketers who have scored above 10,000 runs in both Test and one-day internationals (ODIs). Despite retiring in 2007, Lara’s popularity is intact in the capital of Trinidad and Tobago, where he is the unofficial “Prince of Port of Spain”.  Lara spoke exclusively to Moneycontrol.com earlier this week during a T20 game. Here is an edited excerpt.

First of all, thank you, Brian Lara, for this interview. You have given several and I have done a lot but this is the first time I am interviewing a cricketer in the stadium that is named after him! If this is a special feeling for me, then what's your feeling about being interviewed on your home ground after the first international game (played on July 29)?

A 1 - First of all, it’s pretty awesome to have India as the first team to play a game here. I feel very honoured and privileged and I hope it’s the first of many more games (at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy in Tarouba, Trinidad).

I have seen you walking in at Queen’s Park Oval (in Port of Spain) during an ODI series and the kind of respect and adulation you get is incredible. However, this is something special at the Brian Lara stadium. From very far, the giant red wall is visible and distinct where all of your greatest innings are imprinted. It’s a rare and stunning sight not only for a fan but for any player…

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Yeah, again, as I say, I feel very humble for such a special gesture. Having a stadium in my name makes me feel very special. I am overwhelmed by the love of my fans who came in large numbers for the first game.

We have seen this refreshing culture in the West Indies where not only you but Sir Vivian Richards (stadium in Antigua) and Darren Sammy (stadium in St Lucia) have grounds in their name, which shows cricketers are loved in the West Indies even if the superstar status is not like that in India.  Do you find it strange that in India there are so many great cricketers like Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar, and M S Dhoni but there is not a stadium named after them? Is this something Indians can learn from the West Indies on how to really respect their legends?

I don’t think it’s about respect, the fact of the matter is that people operate differently. I don’t think there is any negativity in it, I feel very honoured but obviously, in India and England, people work differently. We are very small islands, with a small population, so sometimes when you do have someone or a personality that does something, he is celebrated a little bit more.

You had such a great friendship with Shane Warne and Tendulkar. Obviously, Warne’s sudden demise is shocking and very sad. What kind of personal loss it is for you? You have had so many fierce battles on the field but were such great friends off the field…

Shane is not just a great loss to me but to the whole cricketing world. He was a great personality, a larger-than-life figure, so you know it was a very sad moment for myself and I suppose all of the cricketing world. But he is remembered for what a great cricketer he was also a great individual and when you talk about Sachin, that’s another person back in the 90s where, you know, you would say that the trio Shane Warne, Sachin, and myself. So I spoke to Sachin about Shane passing and you know we’ve been very sad. It’s just a very sad moment for us.

You must have now got used to this, the never-ending Sachin-Lara comparison over the years. Till now, invariably, everyone asks the same question. I am not going to ask that but do you get irritated by the same question?

Listen, I finished playing cricket 15 years ago and there is no talk about it anymore. Everyone knows how unbelievable Sachin was and everyone respects every player like Rahul Dravid, and Jacques Kallis. Everyone brought something different to the game.

Before I let you go, I want to ask you, is there a plan for the future where you will bring all your close friends from every country to watch a game at the Brian Lara stadium? Who would be the first five names on your invitation list?

Five! Let me tell you, first thing first, that the first one to get the invitation will be Sachin!
Vimal Kumar has covered multiple cricket world cups and the Rio Olympics, in the last two decades. Vimal is also the author of Sachin: Cricketer Of The Century- a best seller. You can find out more about the former Sports Editor of the News18 India channel on vimalwa.com
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