Brian Lara always had a penchant for big knocks. He owns the record for the highest (400* vs England in 2004) and the third-highest (375 vs England in 1994) individual scores in Test cricket. While those innings will forever remain iconic, one other knock by the West Indies great that tends to be forgotten is his first century in the longest format. It came in his fifth Test.
West Indies toured Australia for a five-Test series in 1993, with Lara all of 23 years old at that time. After the first Test was drawn and the hosts won the second, the action shifted to the Sydney Cricket Ground for the third Test. Australia batted first and declared for a mammoth 503/9 on the back of a Steve Waugh ton.
Having fielded for 171.4 overs, the West Indies were in trouble after losing their openers with just 31 runs on the board. But that’s when Lara walked out, and the match turned on it’s head.
The left-hander’s highest score ahead of that innings was 64 and his average was 30.50. He was only starting out in his international career but had done enough to show the world that he was no ordinary player. And his performance in that match banished any lingering doubt about his potential.
Lara ended up scoring 277 runs off 372 deliveries. It was an absolute masterclass. He hit boundaries off the front foot, the back foot, on the leg side, on the off, and simply made a mockery of Craig McDermott, Merv Hughes, Greg Matthews, Shane Warne and Co. The innings didn’t have a single six but was studded with 38 fours. The strike-rate of 74.46 shows just how dominant Lara was despite being inexperienced at the highest stage.
The West Indies put on 293 runs for the third wicket thanks to Lara and skipper Richie Richardson (109 off 253 with a strike-rate of 43.08). Lara missed out on a well-deserved triple-century as he was run-out after a mix-up with Carl Hooper, but he had done enough to help his team go on and earn a draw in the match. The partnership between Lara and Richardson was also the starting point of their team’s revival in the series, as they went on to win the last two Tests and clinch the series 2-1.
Here are highlights of Lara’s epic knock of 277, shared by Cricket Australia on their YouTube page: