By Sean Devers
Lara, who later that year scored the highest individual score in a first class-match (501* for Warwickshire vs Durham in England) broke Sobers’ 59-year-old record of 365 with a sensational innings of 375 in the final
test of the 1994 series against England at the ARG after Shivnarine Chanderpaul (19yrs, 219 days) had become the youngest Guyanese and sixth youngest West Indian test player in the second test of that series in Guyana. Walsh also became the first specialist bowler to captain the West Indies in the final test of that series.
Lara’s first century in the West Indies was scored in the second test in Guyana, while Chanderpaul finished his debut series with four half centuries including his unbeaten 75 when he helped Lara to his world record score in the final test.
The next year saw the West Indies lose their first series in 15 years when Australia won 2-1 at home to start a downhill journey for the once invincible team.
FALL FROM GRACE:
From the 1995 home series defeat to Australia, Ian Bradshaw, at age 31, became the 55th player (2006 vs New Zealand) to debut for the regional team. Five debutants played in the 2003 series against Australia, two in the 2003 Sri Lanka series, while 10 other players were given their first test cap in 2004/05 alone. Lara became the first captain to lose three consecutive test matches at home when Australia won the series 3-1 in 2004.
Captains Richardson, Walsh, Lara (twice), Adams, Hooper, Jacobs, Chanderpaul, Sarwan, Ganga, Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Floyd Reifer and Sammy in addition to five WICB Presidents (Peter Short, Pat Rousseau, Wes Hall, Teddy Griffith and Julian Hunte) had come and gone
Hall did not seek re-election due to health reasons and Chetram Singh was elected WICB President in July 2003. He was later forced to relinquish the post due to the ICC’s stipulation that no one connected with any form of public gambling would be allowed to attend ICC meetings. Singh, who held the post of Guyana Cricket Board President since 1992, owns a Hose Racing betting shop in Georgetown Guyana. His tenor as GCB head ended in 2010.
Richardson (suffering from acute fatigue syndrome) resigned during the 1996 World Cup after four years in the job.
Walsh was dismissed after the 3-0 defeat in Pakistan and Lara given the job he had been groomed for since his days at the youth level. After two years of what he called “moderate success and devastating failure” Lara quit before the 2000 series against Zimbabwe and Pakistan and took a break from the game.
Adams was next and although he won at home he became the first captain to lose a series in England in 31 years before being hammered 5-nill in Australia. Loss of form and failure as skipper resulted in the end of Adams’ career prior to the 2001 home series against South Africa.
Adams was at the helm when England beat West Indies by an innings and 39 runs in two days at Leeds in the fourth test of the 2000 series. The only other time the Caribbean side had lost a test in two days was 69 years before in Australia.
Sarwan hit an unbeaten 59 as West Indies made 172 to which England replied with 272 as Ambrose and Walsh took four wickets each.
England, with a lead of 100, then sent the West Indies reeling for 61 as five batsmen made ducks and only three managed double figures. Andy Caddick (5-14) and Daren Gough (4-30) were the architects of destruction for England.
Hooper, the fifth captain in six years, was appointed in 2001 but after the 2003 World Cup Hooper was replaced by Lara. Hooper, hurt by the WICB’s manner in sacking him as skipper, pulled out of the squad for the 2003 home series against Australia days before the start of the first test in his homeland Guyana.
West Indies register record 418-7 to prevent Australia’s clean sweep
After losing the first three tests in the 2003 home series, West Indies spearheaded by centuries from Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul, scored a world record 418-7 (the highest successful fourth innings score to win) to beat Australia on the final day of a nerve raking test at the ARG. Sarwan scored 105 and Chanderpaul 104 after Lara had made 60 but it was Vasbert Drakes (27*) and Omari Banks (47*) who guided West Indies home in mounting pressure on the morning session of the final day which the home team began with 47 needed for the sensational win.
The match was marred by poor umpiring from David Sheppard and an ugly confrontation between Glen McGrath and Sarwan.
With the West Indies gaining the upper hand and the battle becoming more and more intense, a frustrated McGrath reportedly asked Sarwan “What does Brian Lara’s c—k taste like?”
Sarwan replied, “I don’t know. Why don’t you ask your wife?”
This angered McGrath whose wife Jean had recently completed cancer treatment. “If you ever f———g mention my wife again I will rip your f————g throat out,” McGrath reportedly shouted at Sarwan.
Both parties apologized later and although McGrath had started the verbal fight, Prime Minister of Australia John Howard defended the Australian cricketer by reportedly saying that ‘it was an Australian thing to do’.
Another feature of that pulsating match was the fact that Chanderpaul batted with a broken finger (and a bat). Very few people (even those in the West Indies team) knew Chanderpaul’s finger was broken before his innings began. This was to prevent the tourists from getting any psychological advantage in the match and was one of the best kept cricketing secrets in recent times.
West Indies had lost 35 of their 46 ‘away’ matches between 1997 (including losing both tests and five ODI’s against New Zealand in 1999 in New Zealand) and 2003. They were in danger of losing two home series in the same year for the first time if they had lost the second and final test to Sri Lanka in the 2003 home series.
West Indies eventually won that game in Jamaica by seven wickets with Fidel Edwards (a short but powerful Barbadian who produced hostile pace from a slinging action and who was picked by Lara after he saw him bowl in a ‘net’ session) bagging 5-36 on debut.
After their 1-nil win at home against Sri Lanka, West Indies traveled to Zimbabwe and beat the home team 1-nil in the two test series after just holding on for a draw in the first test despite another 5-wicket haul from the Bajan Edwards. Lara’s splendid 191 then gave his team a 128-run victory in the second and final test.
West Indies ended 2003 with big defeats in the first two tests of their four-test series in South Africa despite a double century (202) from Lara in the first which they lost by 189 runs.
In the second test, Gibbs, Kallis and Kirsten all registered tons in the same innings as the West Indies were crushed by an innings and 65 runs on the penultimate day of 2003.
2004 began much better for the Caribbean side as Lara (115) and Chris Gayle (116) in the first innings and an explosive unbeaten 105 from 105 balls with 15 fours and two sixes from debutant Dwayne Smith in the second innings ensured the match finished in a draw as Lara (86) and Sarwan (69) chipped in with the bat.
The fourth and final test was played from January 16-20 and once again the West Indies were back to their losing ways, going down by 10 wickets to lose the series 3-nill.
Gibbs, Graham Smith and Kallis smashed centuries as South Africa piled up 604-4 declared. Gayle (107) and Sarwan (119) scored tons in the second innings when their team was asked to follow on, to end another dismal ‘away series’ for the Windies.
The West Indies returned to home soil for the four test series against England and were soundly beaten in every test until Lara, on another batting paradise in Antigua, broke the world record (for the 2nd time) which was held briefly by Matthew Hayden of Australia who had broken Lara’s 1994 record with his 380.
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