Cricket. A game which has been part and parcel of the majority Asians. I am no exception to that. There was a time when I used to hate my brother, blocking the TV for the whole day citing an One Day Match. I used to miss all my favourite cartoon shows and Sunday Serials due to that. But that was then, in a country which has adopted cricket from English, it's natural you start following the game, as the time passes. In fact, I started following the game, when I found that if you have to get into a close circle of friends, you need to be either of the two, be a follower of Cricket, or idolize any cine star. Enough bragging about myself, and coming to the biggest news of the World Cup.
This World Cup has been a mixed match of sorts for all people. The ouster of Heavyweights like India, Pakistan out of the tournament in first stage, would have taken the sheen of the competition. But, there were other stars and star teams to watch over. One of them is undoubted the Masterly, Brian Charles Lara, the hope of the whole West Indies.
When others found it hard to score runs, Lara was the one who was rattling Double Centuries at will in all parts of the world. His first International Century was a mammoth 273 against Australia. He followed that up with World record scores of 375, 501, 400*.
The stage was perfectly set for Lara, to have a last hurrah, before his retirement. The opening match against Pakistan, went according to the plan. But, then the failure of the top order, and inability to score wins in key matches, saw the team limp to the bottom of the Points table, knocking them out of contention, and thus in the process maintaining the bad omen of hosting nation deprived of a world cup.
The match against England, their last Super 8, was the time, and Lara announced his retirement, having nothing more to prove in the cricketing world. April 21, 2007 the sad day for Cricket, where it lost one of its long serving member.
Before the World Cup, Lara was indicating on extending his Test Career to the age of 40. But it eventually had to end at a month short of 38, in a career spanning 17 years, amassing 11,953 runs in 131 Tests, and 10,405 runs in 299 ODI's.
When he scored 375, then world record, Lara said. "I will be aiming to beat my record, and I think I can do it one day." He proved it right, when he reclaimed his world record from Hayden nearly a decade later. Such was the confidence and master class of Lara, which was exhibited throughout his 17 year career.
On his last Presentation Ceremony, he asked to the capacity crowd 'Did I entertain?', the wild cheers was the answer. Thanks for all the memories Lara, the last hero of Trinidad.
An Update: Lara recently was in news, as a high-profile recruit of Indian Cricket League (ICL), promoted by Zee Group in India, a 20-20 Championship. But, his first season resulted in a dismal record. He No-showed in the second edition of ICL, citing Injury. Now, It looks like he has chosen to concentrate on his personal life, and retire for good.