Lara~~s retirement a huge loss for cricket

Published: Friday, April 20, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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Celebration was followed by anguish. A victory on the field was only a minor gain for the West Indies as it learnt that one of its most gifted and trusted performers, Brian Lara, had made up his mind to say good bye to this wonderful game.

It was a huge loss, not just for West Indies, but world cricket too. I have always believed that retirement is a personal decision and no one knows when to call it quits better than the individual.

The timing matters a lot and in Lara's case one always thought he could have gone on for a couple of years more in Test cricket, given the state of West Indies cricket and his own ability to carry a team on his shoulders.

Retirement can also be a very difficult decision. I have known from experience how the heart bleeds when you stop doing what you love the most but then at some point we all have to accept that no sportsman can go on forever.

You can continue your association later as an administrator or a coach or a commentator but you can't keep playing all your life.

The huge win over Bangladesh must have come as a relief to a team that was expected to win the World Cup because of home conditions but then West Indies lost their way following some inconsistency in all the departments.

And now they have lost one of the most charming entertainers the game has known. To me, Lara was an embodiment of a match-winner who knew how to deliver on the big stage. I have not known any batsman in modern era so dominating and so merciless when it came to tackling the bowlers.

I don't like comparisons but Viv Richards was ahead of Lara in terms of destructive batting but how can one forget the scores of 375 and 400 in Tests and 501 in first-class cricket by this exciting left-hander. On all the occasions, Lara was unbeaten and that speaks of his capacity to concentrate long. That Lara was very, very talented was well known but what really stood out was his desire to excel in difficult conditions.

The occasion brought the best out of him and it was a delight to watch him hammer the bowlers.

I saw him from close quarters in 1997 when we went to the West Indies. I found him a warm person and a very competitive batsman. He knew his strengths and his limitations and it was to West Indies' advantage that Lara always played to win.

It is difficult for a batsman to be aggressive all the time and Lara just did not believe in being defensive. Lara was special. No one forced him to retire but he took the decision keeping in mind his own utility. He will always be regarded an astonishing role model for youngsters of all eras.

As a batsman, Lara had few parallels. He could play all the shots in all conditions. That was something few batsmen could boast of. I really enjoyed his ability to pick the ball early and drive it through the line. His use of feet against the spinners was exemplary. He would dance down and play shots over extra cover or mid-on with tremendous skill.

I am sure all fans of good batting would remember how Lara slammed Muttiah Muralitharan on helpful wickets in Sri Lanka. He could dominate at will and his was always a priceless wicket to have.

He deserves the world record for highest individual score, reclaiming it after having lost it to Mathew Hayden.

Three greats have said good bye in quick succession -- Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and now Lara.

World cricket will not be the same without them, especially Lara, who took batting to great heights. The benchmarks he set would be worth emulating but Lara will always remain a unique performer for all times to come.

An all time great who served the game with distinction.


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