'That's not the way the Australians play'

Published: Monday, April 19, 2004, 17:45 [IST]
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Sydney:Australia's desire to win Test matches in quick time makes surpassing Brian Lara's world record score virtually unattainable, skipper Ricky Ponting has said in Sydney.

Ponting doubts whether Lara's magnificent unbeaten 400, made for the West Indies against England at Antigua last week, will ever be surpassed because few skippers in world cricket would be willing to jeopardise a winning position by allowing one batsman to spend so long at the crease.

Lara's quadruple century - the first in Test history, eclipsing Matthew Hayden's former world mark of 380 - was almost 13 hours in the making.

Lara has been criticised for being selfish in chasing the world record until after lunch on the third day of the fourth Test and not leaving enough time for his team to win the match.

"It's hard to imagine an Australian player doing it, just because of the way we play our cricket. It's generally not the way we play," Ponting said on Monday.

"I've read some of the reports in the paper over the last couple of days about Lara's innings.

"Their whole first innings might have been geared around one individual performance and they could have let a Test match slip because of it.

"They ran out of time in the game - that's not the way the Australian team plays."

Matthew Hayden's previous world record 380 against Zimbabwe in Perth last October took just over ten hours in a match Australia won by an innings and 175 runs early on the fifth day.

Ponting said then captain Steve Waugh's decision to let Hayden keep batting, in an effort to break Lara's previous world record of 375, was the exception to the team rule.

"It was a very rare thing what we did with that Zimbabwean Test match, for Matty to be able to bat for as long as he did and go on and make that big score," Ponting said.

"He was given the opportunity to go on and break Brian's record and he did that. He was going to be given another half an hour, or 20 minutes, to try to get to 400 but unfortunately he got out."

Ponting, Hayden, Lara and India's Sachin Tendulkar are regarded as world cricket's pre-eminent batsmen, but the Australian skipper said he was only vaguely interested in individual records.

"It would be nice if you could be the world record holder but at the end of the day, as we've seen, it doesn't necessarily win you a Test match, which is what we're all about," he said.

"Everyone will be chasing it, there's a record there now I'm sure a lot of batsmen around the world would like to have their name next to. But we'll have to wait and see how things pan out over the next few years."

Australia play two Tests in Zimbabwe next month.

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