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West Indies legend Brian Lara was inducted into the International Cricket Council's Hall of Fame at the ICC Awards ceremony on Saturday night. The superb left-hander from Trinidad who set several records in his illustrious cricket career was warmly applauded and showered with praise as he became the 17th West Indian to be inducted.
Lara was smartly attired and flashed his trademark smile as he was presented with his ICC Hall of Fame cap. The former West Indies captain was accompanied by his brother Winston and sister Agnes at the gala ceremony at the Water's Edge Resort. He dedicated the award to his late father Bunty Lara, who died before his son made his international debut for the West Indies.
"This person you see today before you accepting this Hall of Fame honour is someone he moulded. He ensured that I had everything I needed to succeed as a cricketer and in life, even in trying times. He made a special effort to make sure everything was there," Lara said.
"I had to work hard...but I knew I had strong support. My biggest pain was that he did not see me play a Test match, but having the West Indies team in Trinidad at his funeral was a special tribute to the man who made sure I was given the tools to play this glorious game and make such a lasting contribution."
Lara was one of the game's most prolific batsmen. He represented the West Indies in 131 Tests in an international career that spanned 17 years. He amassed a West Indies record 11,953 runs at an average of 52.88 runs per innings. He made 34 Test centuries and 48 half-centuries. His highest score was the monumental 400 not out against England at the Antigua Recreational Ground in 2004 and to this day that score still remains the highest by any Test batsmen.
"Tonight I had my brother and my sister here with me. Agnes is the one who took me to my first coaching clinic when I was six, and Winston was a role model as a stylish right-handed batsman...so to have them here is very special," Lara said.
"As a boy, you never really thought of Hall of Fames, you never really thought of records. Growing up in the 70s my heroes were Clive Lloyd, Viv Richards and Roy Fredericks as a left-handed batsman. I am happy I was able to spend 17 years in the West Indies and was able to contribute in a way worthy of this honour. It is nice to share it with my family. It is something I want all West Indians to aspire to.
"To share this with the greats of the past and to be included in the Hall of Fame alongside them is remarkable. I never played with most of them but this is one way to connect with them."
In the 299 ODIs that Lara played he scored 10,405 runs at an average of 40.48 that included 19 centuries and 63 half-centuries. In 2004 when captaining the West Indies, he led the team to victory in the ICC Champions Trophy against England at the Oval. Lara's first -class career began in 1987 and when it ended in 2008 he had scored 22,156 runs. His highest score was the amazing 501 not out for Durham against Warwickshire in the English County Championship in 1994.
Looking back at his career, Lara said the most rewarding period was the 1999 Test Series against Australia when he played two sensational back-to-the-wall innings to help the West Indies draw the four-match rubber. He made 213 in the second Test at Sabina Park in Jamaica and followed up with 153 not out in the next match at Kensington Oval in Barbados.
"The 213 against Australia in Jamaica is definitely my best innings. You have to understand the climate at that time and going into that match, landing in Jamaica and knowing that everyone was on the line Ă˘â‚¬â€ś your captaincy, the series, respect and adoration by your fans...the mental strength that I mustered up during that week was something that when I looked back it was very hard to measure anything up against that," Lara said.
"The performance was something I cherish and the fact that we won the match to level the series, after we were bowled out for 51 the week before in Trinidad, felt great. I thought the way I handled it was special. It is something I will never ever forget...it's a day's cricket I will be talking about for a very long time. The 153 in Barbados the following week was rated higher by Wisden and the cricketing gurus but the double century in Jamaica was my best effort."
Lara, now 43, joins several other West Indies legends in the ICC Hall of Fame. They are: Lance Gibbs, Gordon Greenidge, George Headley, Michael Holding, Rohan Kanhai, Clive Lloyd, Malcolm Marshall, Sir Vivian Richards, Andy Roberts, Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Clyde Walcott, Sir Everton Weekes, Sir Frank Worrell, Courtney Walsh, Joel Garner and Curtly Ambrose.
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