A look back at Brian Lara’s record breaking 400 not out vs England at Antigua in 2004
Records are meant to be broken over a period of time. Mathew Hayden muscled his way to 380 against the hapless Zimbabwe to set a new record for the highest individual test score. Brian Lara’s 375 against England in 1994 was eclipsed by the Aussie ten years later in 2003/04. Who would have thought six months later, the Messiah of World Cricket – Brian Lara would occupy the summit of batting records that once belonged to him?? At Multan, on March 29, 2004, Virender Sehwag made mockery of the much hyped Pakistan pace attack to race away to a triple century. But luckily for Matthew Hayden, Virender Sehwag’s innings ended at his score of 309.
Above photo: ST JOHNS, ANTIGUA – APRIL 12: Brian Lara of the West Indies leaves the field after declaring his innings on 400 not out, the highest ever test score during day three of the 4th Test match between the West Indies and England at the Recreation Ground on April 12, 2004 in St Johns, Antigua. (Photo by Tom Shaw/Getty Images)
Things however were in complete contrast at the Antigua Recreation Ground in St John’s in April 2004. With West Indies in a humiliating situation of facing a possible whitewash in the hands of the Englishmen, Brian Lara and his men were under loads of pressure. Cricket was degrading and reaching low levels in the Caribbean. A flat wicket was for the offering at the Antigua Recreation Ground, host for the fourth and final test of the Cable and Wireless Series. It has been a nightmare of a series for the Prince – Brian Lara. Lara had scored just 100 runs in the 3 Tests with a dismal average of 16.60. Questions were raised if it was the same Brian Lara who was once considered to be the best batsman in the world, is Lara a pale shadow of his past? The English bowlers got Brian Lara to hop and hop awkwardly.
Watch Youtube Video of Brian Lara’s 400 not out against England
Many great batsmen in the past had one or two series in which they would have failed miserably, but the fact remains that FORM IS TEMPORARY AND CLASS IS PERMANENT. A recent illustration for this was shown by Sachin Tendulkar after he scored that unbeaten double century at Sydney to cover up all the bad scores he had in the series. And Lara had that in his mind I guess. With a flat track and the ball not deviating much from the surface, Lara had to play himself in and battle out the likes of Matthew Hoggard, Steve Harmison, Andrew Flintoff and Simon Jones. After Chris Gayle had provided the impetus for the innings, it was over to the skipper and Ramnaresh Sarwan to continue the good work.
Above photo: ST. JOHN’S, ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA: West Indies captain Brian Lara walks under an arch of bats 12 April, 2004 as teammates congratulate him on his record breaking 385 on the third day of the fourth & final C&W test vs England at Antigua Recreation Ground, St. John’s Antigua. AFP PHOTO/ Gordon Brooks (Photo credit should read GORDON BROOKS/AFP/Getty Images)
As he stayed at the crease, runs began to flow thick and fast and the old vintage shots of Brian Lara were on display. With things not getting any better for England, Brian Lara enjoyed his stay and progressed from a ton to a double and to a triple at the fag end of the second day’s play. Brian Lara started the 3rd day’s play with an overnight score of 319 and everyone were in suspense if Hayden’s 380 could be broken.
Above photo: ST JOHNS, ANTIGUA – APRIL 11: Brian Lara the captain of the West Indies hits out during day two of the 4th Test match between the West Indies and England at the Recreation Ground on April 11, 2004 in St Johns, Antigua. (Photo by Tom Shaw/Getty Images)
Every run he scored on Day 3 was followed with great interest. Lara soon reached 350 after batting for 681 minutes and facing 494 balls. Then the countdown began 31 runs to rewrite the record books. Lara became cautious and was collecting each and every run with precise shot selection. Finally people were on the edge of their seats with the Prince just a big strike away from equaling Hayden’s 380. And Brian Lara stepped down the track to play a princely shot for 6 off Gareth Batty to level on Hayden‘s 380. It was goodbye for Hayden’s 380 after Lara swept Batty for a four to become the new record holder for the HIGHEST INDIVIDUAL SCORE IN TEST CRICKET. The crowd erupted with that and the newly elected Prime Minister of Antigua was one among those joyous crowds. The next target was 400 and Lara did that after play resumed after the lunch session, with that he declared the innings with West Indies on 751/5. The record books now have a name for the “highest individual test score” – BRIAN CHARLES LARA (WI) – 400* off 582 balls with 43 fours and 4 sixes Vs England at Antigua, 2004.