501 not out: When Brian Lara did the unthinkable

For most successful batsmen in Test cricket, the mantra has always been ‘how hungry are you for runs?’ What separates the legends from the greats is their ability to start from scratch after attaining a milestone. The primary constituent of that ability is an indomitable hunger for runs.

Sir Don Bradman continues to be on a pedestal above the rest, despite a number of great batsmen in the modern game, is because of his unquenchable thirst for runs. One man, who came close to matching him in the longer format of the game was the West Indies artist Brian Charles Lara.

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Lara’s genius was spotted early, just like that his great contemporary Sachin Tendulkar. That he played the majority of his career during the dramatic collapse of the Caribbeans from the zenith of world cricket is unfortunate. Yet, ‘the prince’ stood out among the ruins like precious gem.

Lara broke Sir Garfield Sobers’ record for the highest individual score in Test cricket in 1994, as he scored 375 against England at Antigua, which remains a landmark day in Test history. That started a great journey which culminated in more greatness. Lara would score seven centuries in eight first class innings, the last of them being a special one.

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On June 6, 1994, 26 years from this day, Brian Lara became the first man to score 500 runs in a first-class innings. He broke Pakistan legend Hanif Mohammad’s record of 499 as he remained unbeaten on 501, while playing for English county team Warwickshire, against Durham.

After Durham had declared on 556/8 on a placid Edgbaston track, the home team needed to dig its heels and bat out a draw for the remainder of the match. Lara saw an opportunity to attain greatness as he plundered a bagful of runs. He hit 62 boundaries and 10 massive sixes in his 427-ball knock.

For those fans of T20 cricket, who might think how boring the entire affair might have been, there is more trivia for you. The West Indian hit 174 runs in just one session before lunch on the final day to ensure he became the first man, and the only one till date, to scale mount 500 in first-class cricket.

Lara also holds the record for the highest individual Test score of 400, which also came against England, yet again in Antigua in 2004.

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