Brian Lara: Legend, master, genius

Sporting hyperbole gets devalued over time. The phrase that originally had such bite falls into regular usage and becomes commonplace.

Once upon a time you had to be mythical to be a legend. This was refined in the sporting world and the word came to refer to the greats of yesteryear. More recently, players still plying their trade (or 'art') have been labelled legends. Now all you have to do is hit a resolute thirty and you're a legend in the eyes of the fans.

Enough! It's making it hard to explain the true class of Brian Charles Lara, because here is a batsman who lords it over all others. Today, Brian Lara hit a hundred before lunch - the fifth batsman to do so. Having reached his hundred off only 77 balls, he slowed down, but he's still there on 196 not out, having cut, pulled and driven the Pakistani bowling attack into cowering submission.

Danish Kaneria apparently bowled quite well, but at one point 29 balls to Brian Lara were dispatched for 60 runs, including 26 off one over: The kind of over that divides a great batsman from the rest for longer than just a mere six balls. To think that the other day we were describing the melancholy feeling that came with thinking that each Brian Lara hundred could be the last. He's not finished yet. Not even nearly, judging by his current form.

In light of this softening of the vocabulary of sport, we're struggling to sum this up. We're going to have to revert to more everyday speech. Perhaps that will have more impact in a world where every second cricketer is described in terms that would make Don Bradman blush:

It's very difficult to compare different batsmen, at different times, against different bowling attacks. But insofar as it's possible to do this, Brian Lara has, at times in his career, batted better than just about anyone else has ever batted.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2012

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Blogger Andee said...

I fully agree about the over-usage of terms. And I also agree about Lara being a legend, master, and a genius. In my eyes, he is the batsman of this generation. Irrespective of averages, I will always view him a more worthy title of 'great batsman' than the obnoxious Ponting. Lara has class.. and Lara has had to do what he has done with little to no support from his team over the last 15 years. When you look into it further, he has scored something like 20% of the West Indies runs during the time he has been a member of the team - amazing!

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