He is a supremely talented left-handed batsman with an exceptional ability to build massive innings. Lara is the world record holder for 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 on 12 April, 2004). In scoring the innings of 400 not out, he became the first man to reclaim the Test record score, having scored 375 against England in 1994 (a record that stood until Matthew Hayden's 380 against Zimbabwe in 2003). The score also meant that he was the second player (after Donald Bradman) to score two Test innings of more than 300, and only the second ever (after Bill Ponsford) to score 400 or more in two first-class innings.
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 and seemed to have finally started their comeback from years of poor performance.
In March 2005, Lara, along with six other senior players, was dropped by the West Indies Cricket Board from the West Indies team over their personal Cable & Wireless sponsorship deals, which clashed with the Cricket Board's main sponsor, Digicel. 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 majestic 176 in the first innings, which was hailed by many as one of his best innings in recent years. After an indifferent one day series against South Africa, he once again established himself as one of the leading batsmen of the modern era when he scored his first test century against the visiting Pakistanis in the first test at Kensington Oval, Bridgetown, Barbados.
Brian was born in Cantaro, Santa Cruz, Trinidad and Tobago. He is 10th in a family of 11 children. His dad Bunty Lara passed away 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 with Trinidadian model Leasel Rovedas.
From an early age, Lara showed precocious talent. His father Bunty and one of his older sisters were first to recognize young Brian's exceptional batting talents and enrolled him in the local Harvard Coaching Clinic only 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. Josephs Roman Catholic primary. Then he went to San Juan secondary, but played no cricket there. A year later, fourteen years old, he moved on to Fatima College. He moved in with his fellow Trinidadian test player Michael Carew in Woodbrook, Port-of-Spain (a 20 minute drive from Santa Cruz). Michael's dad Joey Carew was very instrumental in his cricketing & personal career development. Michael got Lara his first job at the Angostura ™ Bitters in Marketing department. Lara played in Trinidad and Tobago junior soccer and table tennis sides, but cricket was always the path to recognition in Trinidad in those times. Lara wanted to emulate his idols: Gordon Greenidge, Viv Richards and the left-handed Roy Fredericks.
Lara began his cricket career while at school in 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 at an astounding average of 126.16 per innings. Immediately 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 batted nearly a full day and 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, and at the same time suffered 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 'B' team in Zimbabwe, 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 & 6.
Lara loves carnivals, Chinese & Italian foods, and is known to be a practical jokester.
- Lara showed his talent in his 5th Test, striking 277 runs against Australia in Sydney, his maiden Test century. It remains the fourth highest maiden Test century by any batsman. . It was also the highest individual score in all Tests between the two teams, the fourth-highest ever recorded against Australia.
- He became the first man to score seven centuries in eight first-class innings, the first being the historic record 375 against England and the last being the record 501 not out against Durham.
- After Matthew Hayden had eclipsed his Test record 375 by five runs in 2003, he reclaimed the record - a unique feat - scoring 400 not out in 2004. With this innings he became the second player to score two Test 300s, the second player to score two career 400s, the only player to achieve both these milestones, and regained the distinction of being the holder of both the record first-class individual innings and the record Test individual innings.
- He is the all-time leading run scorer for West Indies and the 3rd leading run scorer in all of Test cricket . He also holds the world record for the fastest 10,000 runs, a feat achieved in 111 matches and 195 innings.
- He has (as of June 2005) scored 30 centuries (the most for a West Indian and 4th for all Test cricket), of which 7 are double centuries (surpassed only by Bradman) . He has scored centuries against all Test-playing nations.
- Lara fought many lone battles as the West Indies collective batting strength slumped over the years. He has scored an astonishing 19% of his team runs , a feat surpassed only by Bradman (23%) and George Headley (21%). Lara scored 688 runs (a record 42% of team output and the second highest aggregate runs in history for a three-Test series) in the 2001-02 tour of Sri Lanka .
- He also scored a century and a double century in the third Test in that same Sri Lanka tour, a feat repeated only five other times in Test cricket history .
- A devastating batsman when in form, Lara holds the world record of scoring most runs (28) in a single over in Test cricket .
- He is fourth all-time in the category of most catches in a career by a non-Wicketkeeper .
- In 1994, he was awarded the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Overseas Personality Award. In 1995, he was a Wisden Cricketer of the Year.
- Comfortably averaging over 50 per innings (the benchmark for batting greatness in Test cricket), Lara has often been ranked the number one batsman in Test cricket according to the PricewaterhouseCoopers Cricket Ratings .
- Lara has played some of the most brilliant innings in recent years. Wisden published a top 100 list in July 2001, a distillation of the best performances from 1,552 Tests, 54,494 innings and 29,730 bowling performances. Three innings by Lara were placed in the top 15 . His heroic 153 not out in Bridgetown, Barbados, during West Indies' 2-2 home series draw against Australia in *1998-1999 was deemed the second greatest Test innings ever played, behind Bradman's 270 against England in the Third Test of the 1936-1937 series at Melbourne. On 13 October, *2003, PricewaterhouseCoopers Ratings team published a list of top innings since 1990 under their own methodology. Lara's 213 against Australia in Kingston, Jamaica in 1999 came out to be the top innings. His 375 was placed 8th and his three other innings, including the 153 not out, were not far behind.
Lara's batting average in Tests is over 54 an innings and in One-day Internationals he averages over 42 an innings at a strike rate (number of runs scored per 100 balls) of close to 80. The following four graphs show his test batting average over the years in four chronological sections:
- Lara Career Graph 1.gif
- Lara Career Graph 2.gif
- Lara Career Graph 3.gif
- Lara Career Graph 4 (revised).gif
- The beginning: his first 55 Test innings, from December 1990 to April 1996, with an average of 60.32
- The first drop of his batting form: innings #56 to #103, November 1996 to March 1999, with an average of 36.00
- Then second drop of his batting form: innings #108 to #138, April 1999 to April 2001, with an average of 30.58
- The rise of his form in recent years: innings #139 to #197, April 2001 to August 2004, with an average of 64.93