Veteran West Indies batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul says batting genius Brian Lara is the best batsman he has ever seen and played with during his career.
The question was thrown at Chanderpaul, who was the guest of honour at a banquet in Queens, New York, on Friday last. In his estimation of who was the best batsman he has ever seen, the audience wanted to know.
It came as no surprise when he uttered the name “Brian Charles Lara”, for the two have shared many memorable partnerships, especially in test cricket for the West Indies.
In his illustrious 21-year career, Chanderpaul has amassed the most runs in partnership with Lara. The pair has scored 2621 runs together in 57 innings at an average of 46.80 per partnership.
They have put together 909 fifties together. Chanderpaul told the audience that Lara had tremendously talent, and was majestic in his stroke play.
“I’ve never seen anybody with the skills and ability as Brian, and the know-how to hit a cricket ball to the boundary. I’ve never seen anybody with such quick hands, quick eyes as Brian. He would sometimes hit balls that I would not even play at,” Chanderpaul, the West Indies second highest test runscorer behind Lara, told the appreciative gathering.
Chanderpaul further told the gathering that the Trinidadian world-record holder for the highest individual test and First-Class scores consistently provided him with a lesson in batting whenever they were together at the crease.
“It’s unbelievable the power he gets from his strokes. He’s definitely a genius, and it used to work in my favour too because at times people bowl him outside the off-stump and he cash in on those, and they forget sometimes I’m batting with Brian and they bowl close to me. I’m happy when they bowl close to me, and I cash in. But definitely Brian is the best batsman I’ve ever seen,” the “Tiger” as he is affectionately known, outlined.
He added, “Batting with him was definitely a pleasure, standing up at the other end and watching on. You couldn’t ask for better because you learn so much from a guy like him. The different shots he played, as a young cricketer in the team you look at those things and learn from it. So Brian was definitely the best I’ve seen.”
The 46-year-old Lara, who retired from international cricket in 2007, is the West Indies highest runscorer in both tests and ODIs. The gifted left-hander made 11, 953 Test runs with 34 hundreds, while he accumulated 10,348 ODI runs with 19 centuries.
He also holds the record for the highest Test score of 400, and also the highest First-Class of 501 for Warwickshire, made in 1994.
Debate on the best batsman has numbered the likes of late Australian Sir Dinald Bradman, legendary West Indian Sir Garfield Sobers and retired Indian icon Sachin Tendulkar.