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BC’S B’DOS: Life of Brian (Part 1)

B.C. Pires

BC’S B’DOS: Life of Brian (Part 1)

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The test cricket back at Kensington this Holy Week(end) should bring to mind the devilish treatment we West Indians meted out to the greatest batsman we ever produced and make us hang our collective head in shame.
Not even Kieron “Six Machine” Pollard hits a knee-high, full toss less savagely than the West Indies smashed Brian Lara for most of his career.
If there is a single day that stands in infamy in West Indian cricket history, it is the day Brian Lara was forced to announce his retirement during the 2007 Cricket World Cup we hosted. What could have been our best moment we contrived to render as our worst.
Even the final umpiring debacle that had Sri Lanka and Australia come out for three unnecessary overs’ groping in the dark was a joke, compared to our deliberate, ugly rejection of our own beauty, as represented by B.C. Lara.
Like everybody else in the Press box at the time, I had heard the rumours. I had even been told that one high-level functionary who was instrumental in Lara’s removal had achieved his position by declaring everything that was wrong with our cricket in two words: “Brian Lara”.
Last month, Sachin Tendulkar – a great player, yes, one of the best, but not as awe-inspiring a batsman as Brian – scored his 100th first class century.
Sachin has surpassed most of Brian’s records because unlike Brian, his country did not chuck him out ten years early.
And had Brian continued batting, Sachin would have found it close to impossible to break his records, because Brian would have kept on extending them. Indeed, with the seven more years he’s had than Brian, Sachin has not threatened the three records Brian Lara will hold until long after everyone reading this is dead: the highest single innings Test and first class scores, and the amassing of first class century-scores in the single, double, treble, quadruple and quintuple figures.
Any other cricketing nation would have fallen over themselves to keep a talent like Lara available to us for as long as possible; we conspired to force him to fall on his own sword.
We buried the prince of Port of Spain in a pauper’s grave at Kensington.
But he wasn’t the first person to achieve excellence that the rest of us, shown up in our mediocrity, felt compelled to punish; he wasn’t even the first ambulance-ing cricketer.
Pick a great name out of a WI cricket cap – Viv, Dessie, even Sir Garry – and you’ll find illustrations of how the great were forced to bend knee and touch forelock before the petty. It won’t stop with Chris Gayle, either (though nothing I say here is meant to excuse a betrayal of ourselves, even of our —- cricket board).
What the life of Brian Lara shows is how much we hate ourselves in these sad, broken parts, of which, more next Monday.