Brian Lara‘s departure has sent cricket writers to their best, and the anecdotes and the prose on The Flawed Genius—“a batsman of rare gifts, a night owl, a complex, haunted soul who never really found happiness”—are overflowing, even overwhelming.
# On cricinfo, Rahul Bhattacharya recounts a Adam Gilchrist-Lara incident in 2003. When the Aussies remove a fielder from mid-wicket and put him beside another at point, Lara hisses “mistake” to the wicket-keeper and promptly lofts the next ball to midwicket for a six.
Gilchrist taunts Lara to take on the two men behind point instead. Lara strings it between them for four. The next ball is straighter; Lara backs away and string it through again. Best remain silent now, decides Gilchrist.
# In the Courier-Mail, Robert Craddock recalls how Lara was deeply contemptuous of the pretentious swagger of some of his underperforming West Indian team-mates such as Marlon Samuels who wore sunglasses at the World Cup’s opening ceremony at 10pm: “What’s the guy ever done?”
# Craddock says a team-mate was only partially joking when he said Brian’s contact book was thicker than the New Testament. A team liason officer who picked Lara up in Australia heard him make three phone calls on the way to the hotel, all starting with the same line: “Hi darling, it’s me… I’m back”.
# In The Daily Telegraph, London, Derek Pringle writes: “Watching the left-hander construct an innings was like watching a Rolex with its back removed seamlessly rack up the hours. The unfeasibly high backlift, the same in defence or attack, led to strokes of such precision and quality that even suffering bowlers were forced to admire them.”
# But the killer comeback of all time has to be Michael Holding‘s. During commentary a few years ago, a co-commentator reminded Holding that Lara had named his daughter Sydney because he hit his first century in Sydney.
“What if he had hit it in Faisalabad,” asked Holding, deadpan.