MELBOURNE: West Indian batting legend Brian Lara's knowledge of how to amass big scores at rapid rate without putting his wicket at risk makes him a "superior" batsman of his era than Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting, writes former Australian captain Ian Chappell.
Chappell said Lara's remarkable feat of scoring the only 400 in Test cricket, a triple century and seven double centuries, probably highlights an area where Lara was better than the senior India batsman Tendulkar and former Aussie skipper Ponting.
"There's no argument Ricky Ponting deserves to be mentioned with Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara as one of the three most dominant batsmen of the era. But who is the best of that trio?
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"Lara is the world record-holder with a Test score of 400 and, next to Bradman, he's the scorer of the most "big" centuries in Test cricket. He has the only score of 400 in Test cricket, a triple century and seven double centuries. That's a remarkable feat, especially when you consider neither Tendulkar nor Ponting has a triple century.''
"This probably highlights an area where Lara is superior to the other two players under discussion; his knowledge of how to amass big scores," Chappell wrote in his column for 'Daily Telegraph'.
Chappell said Lara had an innate knowledge of which bowlers to target in order to score quickly and which ones were the most likely to endanger his existence.
"He would score quickly in spurts and steadily at other times. Fully capitalising on this knowledge, he was able to achieve huge scores. Because he didn't put his wicket at risk by trying to score at a rapid rate when the best bowlers were fresh, he was able to maintain a fast run rate by feasting at the opportune times.
The method of respecting best bowlers when they are fresh helped Lara accumulate runs quickly, feels Chappell.
"This method also allowed him to maintain a similar run rate from the beginning to the end of his career, something that not even Bradman was able to achieve. Consequently, Lara was able to perform the most remarkable feat of all; he reclaimed the world record for the highest score in Test cricket 10 years after originally setting the mark," said Chappell.
Chappell said he loved the way Lara handled the spin attack.
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"I loved the way he played spin bowling and I admired his determination to always do it his way. If you told me I could pick just one of that trio, I would take Lara."
He said it would be a "mistake" to exclude the former West Indian skipper from the conversation, debating who was the best of the trio.
"In a classic case of out of sight out of mind, the now retired Lara hardly ever enters the conversation these days. To exclude Lara is a mistake."
While conceding that Ponting will never reach the statistical peak of Tendulkar, Chappell said that the experienced campaigner impressed with the strength of his mind.
"While the world has watched and waited anxiously for Tendulkar's 100th international century, Ponting has quietly beavered away in the background restoring his reputation with persistent practice and hard-earned runs in the middle.
"The fact that those runs were increasingly more convincing in Adelaide, and he was able to push on to score a double century, have turned the conversation from "when will he retire" to, "how long will he play on?"
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"Ponting will never reach the statistical peak of Tendulkar, but while the "Little Master" continues to stumble with the defining century in sight, often because of a mental aberration, Ponting impresses with the strength of his mind," he said.