HE HITS A 600!
Football's just another branch of entertainment which is what Mick Jagger & the Beatles are in and I'm just another entertainer as far as I'm concerned.- George Best
The tall New South Welshman steamed in. It was the 74th over of the day, 121st of the innings. His more illustrious fast bowling mate had bowled his heart out. Scores were level. The home side needed just 1 run to win. The visitors, the fielding side, needed just the 1 wicket to tie. The 2 batsmen at the crease, the current skipper and his predecessor, had survived a dropped catch and a yorker respectively. The last quarter of an hour was filled with such tension that lesser men would have retched their entire digestive systems out. It was not a game for boys.
He crouched back into the crease with an ever so slight shift to the left. As he flexed his right elbow the rapier in his hands was perpendicular to the ground. It was the 355th minute of his innings. He knew the exact trajectory of the ball as soon as it pitched on length and outside the off-stump. The rapier came down in a flourishing arc to send the ball flying through the covers to produce of the most incredible and improbable test victories ever. With due respect to 375, 501* and even the epic 213 just a fortnight earlier, this was Brian Charles Lara's greatest moment of his career.
Sports is primarily about entertainment. It is about doing things in style, with panache & glamour. An ugly person would never want to marry another ugly person even though they are in the best position empathize with a fellow uggo. It's unfair but that's how we are wired. It's simply natural to want beautiful things: beautiful spouse, beautiful children, beautiful house. If Humans were fighting Aliens and it was somehow settled via a cricket match, a phlegmatic, unemotional decision would be to pick someone like Steve Waugh to bat. He was as effective as the two darling batsmen of the 90s. He broke the will of West Indies in 1995 in such a fashion that they are yet to recover after nearly a quarter of a century. Despite matching his more glamorous opponents, blow for blow, Tugga never gets the love they get.
Brian Lara completes 600 months on the planet today. With that in his bag, he's now the only cricketer to have hit a hundred, double hundred, triple hundred, quadruple hundred, quintuple hundred & a sextuple hundred at First Class level and above. Crouch, hop, back-lift, flourish. The bat came from so high up & with such precise timing that even the faintest of blocks would see the ball fly through to the boundary. It was supposedly a technical weakness against the really quick bowlers and yet the exact same weakness produced more than 22,000 international runs and more than 50 international 100s. But the numbers are irrelevant. It is how they were scored that matters.
What set Lara apart from his contemporaries was his utter refusal to compromise on his attacking instincts. He truly believed in adage of giving the 1st hour to the bowler but he very rarely traded his extravagance for accrual. A bit of pragmatism and self-denial would have produced a 1000-1500 runs more but it would have been less entertaining. We watched Lara because he fought fire with fire. It is what made Lara, Lara. If we wanted see someone to fight fire with water, there's always lesser beings like Chanderpaul, Kallis & co. As great as they were, they are never going to fill stadia like the man from Santa Cruz.
His last words as an international cricketer were, "Did I entertain?". The short answer to that is:
A THOUSAND TIMES