‘Murali would spread the field and...’: Brian Lara compares individual battles with Shane Warne and Muralitharan
Brian Lara had a healthy average of 82.5 against spinners in the longer format, the eight-highest by any batter who has played over 30 Tests and have a strike rate of 65 and above.
Brian Charles Lara holds the reputation of being one of the finest cricketer, the sport has witnessed. Making his international debut in 1990, Lara gave 17 years to international cricket, during which he made 131 Test and 299 ODI appearances for the West Indies. Renowned for his stylish batting, Lara accumulated 22,358 runs in both formats combined.
During the period Lara also broke the Test world record score twice as he overtook his personal best of 375 against England in Antigua. He also holds the record for the all-time first-class record of 501 not out for Warwickshire against Durham in 1994.
While Lara was exceptionally talented, he often stood out for his persistence against the spinners irrespective of the conditions. He had a healthy average of 82.5 against spinners in the longer format, the eight-highest by any batter who has played over 30 Tests and have a strike rate of 65 and above.
During an interaction with telegraph.co.uk, Lara credited a lot of tennis ball cricket as a kid the reason behind it. He also opened up about his individual battles against cricket's greatest spinners Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan.
“We played with tennis balls, and you can actually chuck the tennis ball,” Lara was quoted as saying during the interview. “In softball cricket, you can chuck it into the pitch, turn it a mile. And I felt that was a huge part of understanding how to play spin from an early age. If you were to ask me ‘spin or pace?’ I’ll tell you spin every single day. It just came as something natural.”
If we look at Lara's stats against Warne, he averaged 71.6 against him in Tests. Lara during the interaction revealed that he read the Australian “quite easily”, before adding that it used to get difficult as the innings got along.
“A lot of people try to read off the pitch. I think that’s a bit too late. So, I’m trying to understand what’s coming out of the bowler’s hand. I read Warnie quite easily. But what made him great was the fact that he never gave up and he was always going to come out and produce something to confuse you,” said Lara.
Against Muralitharan, Lara had an even better average, which stood at 124. In a tour to Sri Lanka back in 2001, Lara had smashed 688 runs from six innings.
“What Murali didn’t realise is that for the first 20 minutes of every innings, I really was not reading him. I kept sweeping and getting a single, getting off strike. And then eventually you start getting accustomed to what he was doing with the ball and then eventually he lost a bit of confidence maybe.
“Murali was harder to face at the beginning of the innings. But as I got better out in the middle, Warne became more difficult because he seemed to get better. Murali knew he could get the rest of the players out so the field would spread and I’d get a single,” he said.
Muralitharan with 800 wickets is the leading Test wicket-taker and is followed by Warne, who has 708 Test scalps under his name.