Brian Charles Lara (born May 2, 1969) (nicknamed “The Prince of Port-of-Spain” or simply “The Prince”) is a West Indies cricketer. Lara has several times topped the Test batting rankings and being the current world record holder for the highest individual innings score and the all-time leading run scorer in Test cricket.
Brian was born in Cantaro, Santa Cruz, Trinidad and Tobago. He is 10th in a family of 11 children. His father Bunty Lara died in 1988. His mother Pearl Lara suffered from cancer and died in January 2002. He is also the father of an eight-year-old daughter called Sydney whom he had with Trinidadian model Leasel Rovedas.
From an early age, Lara’s father Bunty and one of his older sisters Agnes Cyrus enrolled him in the local Harvard Coaching Clinic at the age of six for weekly coaching sessions on Sundays. As a result, Lara had a very early education in proper batting techniques.
Lara’s first school was St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic primary. He then went to San Juan secondary, but played no cricket there. A year later, at fourteen years old, he moved on to Fatima College. Lara moved in with his fellow Trinidadian Test player Michael Carew in Woodbrook, Port of Spain (a 20 minute drive from Santa Cruz). Michael’s father Joey Carew worked with him on his cricketing and personal career development. Michael got Lara his first job at the Angostura Ltd. in the Marketing department. Lara played in Trinidad and Tobago junior soccer and table tennis sides but cricket was the path to recognition in Trinidad at the time. Lara said he wanted to emulate his idols: Gordon Greenidge, Viv Richards and the left-handed Roy Fredericks.
Lara began his cricket career while at school at Fatima College. When he was 14, he played in the under-16 and First Divisions of national schoolboys’ cricket. He amassed 745 runs in the schoolboys’ league that year with an average of 126.16 per innings. Afterwards he was selected for the Trinidad national under-16 team. When he was 15 years old, he played in his first West Indian under 19 youth tournament.
In 1984, Lara represented West Indies in Under-19 Test Cricket. 1987 was a breakthrough year for Lara, when he broke the West Indies youth batting record. In January, 1988, Lara made his first-class debut for Trinidad and Tobago in the Red Stripe Cup against Barbados. The Bajan attack contained Joel Garner and Malcolm Marshall. Lara made 92.
Later in the same year, he captained the West Indies team in Australia for the Bicentennial Youth World Cup. His innings of 182 as captain of the West Indies under 23 XI against the 1988-89 Indians elevated Lara’s reputation even further. He was selected for the Port of Spain Test of that season. He did not play, however, due to suffering the personal setback of the death of his father. In 1989, he captained West Indies B Team in Zimbabwe and scored 145 for the West Indies, a side that included several players with Test experience.
In 1990, at the age of 20, Lara became Trinidad and Tobago’s youngest ever captain and won the one-day Geddes Grant Shield. It was also in 1990 that he made his Test debut for West Indies against Pakistan, scoring 44 and 6.
Lara loves carnivals, Chinese & Italian food, and is known to be a practical joker.
Lara holds several world records for high scoring. He has the highest individual score in both first-class cricket (501 not out for Warwickshire against Durham in 1994) and Test cricket (400 not out for the West Indies against England in 2004). He also holds the record for the highest total number of runs in a Test career, after overtaking Allan Border in November 2005. He is the only man to have reclaimed the Test record score, having scored 375 against England in 1994, a record that stood until Matthew Hayden’s 380 against Zimbabwe in 2003. His 400 not out also made him the second player after Don Bradman to score two Test triple-centuries, and the second after Bill Ponsford to score two first-class quadruple-centuries. He has scored nine double centuries in Test cricket, second only to Bradman’s twelve.
Lara captained the West Indies from 1997 to 1999. He was reappointed as captain against the touring Australians in 2003, and struck 110 in his first Test match back in charge, showing signs of him returning to his best. In September 2004, West Indies won the ICC Champions Trophy in England under his captaincy.
In March 2005, Lara declined selection for the West Indies team because of a dispute over his personal Cable & Wireless sponsorship deal, which clashed with the Cricket Board’s main sponsor, Digicel. Six other players were involved in this dispute, including stars Christopher Gayle, Ramnaresh Sarwan, and Dwayne Bravo. Lara says he declined selection in a stand of solidarity, when these players were dropped because of their sponsorship deals. The issue was resolved after the first Test of the series against the touring South African team.
Lara returned to the team for the second Test (and scored a huge first innings score of 196), but in the process lost his captaincy indefinitely to the newly-appointed Shivnarine Chanderpaul. In the next Test, against the same opponents, he scored a 176 in the first innings. After a one day series against South Africa, he cored his first Test century against the visiting Pakistanis in the first Test at Kensington Oval, Bridgetown, Barbados.
On April 26 2006 Lara was reappointed the captain of the West Indies cricket team for the third time. This followed the resignation of Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who had been captain for thirteen months – in which the West Indies won just one of the 14 Test matches they had competed. In May 2006, Lara led the West Indies to successful One-Day series victories against Zimbabwe and India. Lara’s team played Australia in the final for the ICC Champions Trophy and lost.